Thursday, 7 August 2014

Public Health England's self-lobbying

The Department of Health's sock puppet quango Public Health England has published its response to the Department of Health's plain packaging consultation. Guess what? It supports the policy! Who would have thought?

State-funded self-lobbying really doesn't get any more shameless than this. As if to rub the taxpayer's nose in it, PHE has even published its response on the same government website that is hosting the consultation. See if you can spot the difference between the government 'seeking views' on plain packaging and the 'independent' agency offering its strong support.

Public Health England press release

Department of Health consultation

The response itself is the usual bilge. After dishonestly claiming that plain packaging led to a 3.4 per cent decline in tobacco sales in its first year in Australia (a massive lie, as regular readers know), Public Health England bizarrely claims that the same decline would create savings of £500 million in the UK. This suggests that smoking costs £14.7 billion a year—a figure that I have never heard mentioned by the even the least scrupulous anti-smoking campaigner.

PHE then has the brass neck to suggest that this imaginary reduction in tobacco sales would have economic benefits because...

Retailers earn relatively little profit from tobacco sales. On average, only 7 to 9% of the cost of tobacco is retained by the retailer, compared to 20 to 30% for food and drink products.
...the benefits would be most felt in areas of greater social deprivation; not only reducing the devastating harm caused by smoking and boosting health improvement, but also increasing families’ disposable income

Public Health England neglects to mention the fact that 80 per cent of the price of a pack of cigarettes goes to the government in duty and VAT. Some of this money is then used to set up pointless and vastly expensive propaganda outfits like Public Health England who cry crocodile tears over the cost of tobacco on a government website while calling for the government to be given more power.

Presumably PHE decided not to mention the 80 per cent tax take because its faux concern about money being sucked out of "areas of social deprivation" would be taken less seriously if people were reminded that it is their paymasters in government who are doing the looting. Wise move, really.

Arguably the best reason to stop smoking is that it prevents the state getting its paws on more of your hard earned money. Alternatively, you can continue smoking whilst buying your cigarettes abroad or on the black market which is, of course, what people will do if this ridiculous policy is introduced.

(PS. The press release also includes a quote from our old friend John McClurey, the 'independent newsagent', who must be quite exhausted from giving supportive quotes to the tobacco control industry every time they come up with a new ruse. See here, here, here and here for starts. Nannying Tyrants has his greatest hits.)


Michael Peel said...

Borrowed with thanks for my FB timeline.

Junican said...

The DoH organised an second enquiry on the health aspects of PP (the Chantler thing), but only on the health aspects. Does that mean that the other matters covered in the original consultation still rely upon that consultation? What will this new consultation add to the previous consultation? Is the new one intended to produce different results which overturn the previous consultation findings?

Gosh. It really stinks.

Christopher Snowdon said...


The 2nd consultation is supposed to unearth evidence that has appeared since the 1st consultation. Since the 1st happened before Australia had introduced plain packs, there's a lot of real - as opposed to theoretical, focus group-based - evidence to report, but whether the government will pay attention to it is doubtful. It is obvious that the DoH, if not the government, made its mind up long ago.

Chris Oakley said...

I fear that the government has made its mind up primarily because it is effectively run by the same unelected and unaccountable parasites who ran the last one.

Ring fencing DH spending rather than front line health spending was a major tactical error by the coalition and I for one would applaud if the people who put together the consultation were dismissed for incompetence and gross dishonesty.

One positive is the public response via comments boards, which demonstrates a reasonable grasp of the facts and no support for the policy. Even people who I consider anti-smoking want an end to the ongoing persecution of smokers and fear soviet style shops in which all products are packaged according to the whims of government busybodies or pressure groups.

I note courtesy of Dick Puddlecote that UKIP have publicly come out against the proposal, which is a pretty good indication of where public opinion actually lies.

Sadly, neither the government nor the parasites care what the public think. The politicians don't need to. All they have to do, is to be marginally less odious than those wearing a different colour rosette and not upset the more militant parasites too much.

The plain packs fiasco is a great example for anyone who wants to understand why the vast majority of the public are turned off by mainstream politics and why populism is on the rise.

carol42 said...

I am proud to say that I have never bought cigarettes or tobacco in this country from the day the ban was brought in and I never will. I actually don't know many people who do now, though most buy from white van man not being as conveniently situated as I am.