As reported by Simon Clark and picked up by The Sun (see below), the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking has been sending e-mails to the Department of Health at a rate of one e-mail every three days for the last five years.
This is appalling on a number of levels. ASH—an ostensibly private pressure group—is the secretariat of this APPG, ie. it is run by ASH. When ASH formed the APPG in the 1970s it gave it the more telling name of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health. The 'and health' bit was later dropped, but it remains ASH's presence within parliament.
All Party Groups are not forbidden from lobbying, but they were never intended to be pressure groups. They are supposed to be small societies for MPs who have common interests or expertise, not puppet pressure groups for external private interest groups. They are certainly not supposed to be lobbying at the astonishing rate that ASH's sockpuppet APPG has been doing. The 592 e-mails sent by the APPG in the last five years do not include e-mails sent by ASH itself, which may well number in their thousands (see The Dark Market for an idea of the scale of ASH's prolific e-mail output). Factor in the many other state-funded 'public health' groups that are active in this area and it becomes obvious that the government is being bombarded by prohibitionists on a daily basis.
ASH is still heavily funded by the Department of Health. How much longer are taxpayers going to be forced to pay these zealots to lobby their own bosses?