As Oborne says, Hastings "looks and sounds to me much more like a political campaigner than a neutral, independent expert." And so he is, but if you think that Hastings is a fringe nutter, you're only half-right. He is not on the fringes of the public health scam. He is the lead author of the WHO's review of the impact of food advertising on children, he is the lead author of the UK government's review of the plain packaging evidence and he is the lead author of a review on the impact of alcohol marketing on young people. In each and every case, he departs from the economic evidence and portrays marketing as extremely powerful and deeply pernicious. This is hardly surprising considering his virulent anti-market political beliefs, but these beliefs are not unusual in the world of public health. They are quite typical.
Frank Davis makes some good points about the man:
I watched the YouTube video of Professor Gerard Hastings embedded in the text. It was one long emotional rant (he seemed like he was about to burst into tears) against not just smoking and drinking and fatty food, but against marketing, big business, inequality, profit, everything. Here was someone who had looked at the world around him and did not like it one bit, and desperately wanted to make it into a better world. He wanted to completely reconstruct it. For him, public health was not just about smoking and drinking and fatty food: it was about absolutely everything, and he wanted Public Health to be running absolutely everything.
A century ago he would have been a bomb-throwing anarchist, like Gavrilo Princip. But now people like him are professors of public health, paid handsomely to interfere in everyone’s lives.
For more on Hastings, see here and here.