Friday 18 December 2009

The Godber blueprint

In Velvet Glove, Iron Fist, I suggested that the 5th World Conference on Smoking and Health (1983) was a turning point for the anti-smoking movement. I said this for several reasons. It came in the wake of the first passive smoking studies when there was an unprecedented thirst for action. The language used there was unusually aggressive, particularly towards the tobacco industry. There was open talk of prohibition. And the policies decided upon at that conference set the template for the next three decades. 

The list of those who spoke at the 1983 conference reads like a who's who of the anti-tobacco movement, both then and now. John Banzhaf (ASH) and Stanton Glantz (Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights) both took to the stage, as did Takeshi Hirayama (author of the first epidemiological passive smoking study), Roy Shephard (author of 'The Risks of Passive Smoking') and James Repace (author of an early passive smoking study). Other familiar faces included Michael Pertschuk (of the Federal Trade Commission) and Paul Loveday (president of GASP).

Some of those who spoke at the conference would not make their mark for many years. Konrad Jamrozik, for example, was there. His mathematical howler would form the basis of claims about the death toll from secondhand smoke in the run-up to the English smoking ban. Nicholas Wald was also present. Wald's meta-analysis of passive smoking studies become a powerful weapon for pro-ban opponents in the UK and would heavily influence the SCOTH committee (of which he also happened to be a member).

The 1983 conference represented the coming together of a distinct 'club' which would have tremendous influence in the years ahead and continues to do so today. Few people realise how small this club is, or that they are working from a plan devised decades ago.

Although the 1983 conference was a turning-point, the wheels had been turning throughout the 1970s. Vincent-Riccardo Di Pierri has recently been going through the documents to show the particular influence of Sir George Godber - who was Britain's Chief Medical Officer from 1960 to 1973. Godber was a fervent anti-smoker at a time when such views were unfashionable in Britain and was regarded by his peers as one of the leading lights - arguably the leading light - of the global anti-tobacco community. 

In his thorough review of the various World Conferences on Smoking and Health, Di Pierri identifies what he calls the 'Godber blueprint' which anti-smoking activists have been following ever since. The blueprint encompasses the denormalisation of smoking and the criminalisation of smoking everywhere outside the home. Even today, most anti-smoking groups would not publicly call for such a draconian approach and yet, as Di Pierri shows, Godber was advocating these hard-line policies as far back as 1975 - and his peers were agreeing with him.

I have written about the slippery slope before, most recently with reference to John Banzhaf. Indeed, Velvet Glove, Iron Fist is - as the title suggests - all about the slippery slope. Few outside the anti-tobacco circle would have agreed with the Godber blueprint in the 1970s. Many would have found it fanatical, excessive and illiberal, which is probably why we didn't hear much about it at the time. And yet we have moved much closer to Godber's final goal thanks to a gradual softening-up of the public accompanied by a little voodoo science. 

At every turn, the public is told that the evidence is leading the policy, but there is every reason to believe that the policies were set in stone many years ago and that these policies have been leading the evidence. It is clear from the documents that plans to deal with passive smoking, for example, were being drawn up long before there was any evidence of harm.

Pour yourself a drink and have a read of Di Pierris' article. It's a long one, but worth it.


Dick Puddlecote said...

I downloaded the whole thing earlier today. It's incontrovertible proof that lies have led the agenda for decades.

A brave politician would read it and ask some pertinent questions ... it's just a shame such a person doesn't seem to exist anymore.

The Godber Blueprint can also be deemed responsible for the current denormalisation of alcohol. Not only are the same methods being used, but researchers have been advising the government for the past year to push the 'passive drinking' meme as a proven way of changing attitudes without the need for science.

Hmm, maybe I'll write about that soon.

timbone said...

When I read "Velvet Golve, Iron Fist", one of the many things that stood out to me was this: Epidemiology is a method of studying the possible cause of an epidemic. In the case of passive smoking, there was no epidemic, but certain people felt there should be one, so epidemiology beacme a method of creating an epidemic.

Did God create man or did man create God?

Anonymous said...

I believe that the clique exposed in the Climategate scandal have copied the anti-smoking agenda, almost play-for-play.


RickDP said...

You’re right, Chris. 1983 was a critical demarcation point. As repugnant as the original blueprint [that has been reiterated in numerous World Conferences] is the militant activism and media ‘spin’ introduced by Chapman at the 5th World Conference – his presentation in questionable 'tactics' was very popular. The emphasis also went entirely to ETS ‘danger’; it was the only way forward for the antismokers. It is just another tactic to advance the antismoker blueprint. From that point there have been numerous manuals instructing in information/media/politician/public manipulation, fully exploiting antismokers’ recognized, although unmerited, credibility with the media, politicians, and the public.

The antismokers are really bigoted information manipulators, the emphasis since 1983 being on political activism and media advocacy. They demonstrate the dangerously deranged belief that they have an open license to contort information in whatever manner that they believe advances the blueprint. So, it is not just the blueprint, but the unethical ‘tactics’ and ‘strategies’ to advance the blueprint that are as deluded. Producing and promoting propaganda under the pretense of scientific credibility is fraud. The antismokers have wreaked havoc the world over and have built a substantial, unelected, highly-funded bureaucracy based on this fraudulent conduct.

On the point of ‘the slippery slope’, the crusade could only venture down the slippery slope because the blueprint can only be reached through orchestrated small steps. The antismokers knew exactly where each step was heading. Their denials of the slippery slope at various points are blatant lies – amongst many lies.

Anonymous said...

I agree. What I often wonder is why our society of the past 20 years or so has become so susceptible to these kinds of charlatans and where/how it can all end?

Even declining temperatures and snow-storms blanketing the entire Northern Hemisphere doesn't seem to have mortally wounded the Climate Scam gravy train. What in the World does it it take?

Vocal EK said...

The Godber Blueprint sounds an awful lot like The Overton Window. "It's a way of describing what the public is currently ready to accept on any issue, so you can describe how best to move them toward what you want.
"The ends of this long line represent the extreme possibilities. At this end of the scale is the unthinkable, and all the way over at the other end is something else you can't imagine ever happening, but in the opposite way. If we were talking about the government, it would be too much liberty at this end--which would be anarchy--and a complete top-down Orwellian tyranny at the other end, or no liberty at all. Those in-between points are milestones along the way.
"Use airline security as an example. Forty years ago people could pull up to the airport a few minutes before their flight, be treated with courtesy and respect, present no ID, just a ticket, and then get on the plane with just about anything in their pockets and their bags. Today that's unthinkable, right? It seems like we could never go back to those days.
Now at the other end of the spectrum, let's make the passengers arrive four hours early for the security line, allow no carry-ons, enforce a mandatory strip search, full body X-ray, a cavity probe for everyone, and you have to stay in your seat the entire flight with a stun bracelet on your wrist in case you try to get up to go to the bathroom--which of course no longer exists.
"If you suddenly had to go through everything I just mentioned, you'd give up flying, correct? And with no security at all, you'd also never set foot on an airplane. So your Overton Window is somewhere in the middle, within this box. But my goal is to get you to accept those radical things over there, one step at a time." The Overton Window, a Thriller by Glen Beck.