Sunday 22 April 2012

Astro-turf group breaking the law in Liverpool?

An amusing headline from the Liverpool Daily Post...

Merseyside anti-smoking campaign criticised for giving away cigarettes

Considering how keen the anti-smoking movement is to keep people smoking and help the illicit trade, it was only a matter of time before they cut out the middle-man and started pushing cigarettes on people directly. In this instance, they were sending packs of fags out to politicians and journalists, apparently in the belief that they don't know what cigarette packs look like.

A Merseyside taxpayer-funded charity is promoting an anti-smoking campaign – by giving away free cigarettes.

This is a rare example of the media telling readers that plain packaging campaigners are, almost to a man, funded by the government. This is certainly outrageous, but for the Liverpool Daily Post, the outrage comes from what they have been spending their money on.

Tobacco Free Futures sent out the packs as part of its campaign about how packaging is alluring to children and can lead them to become hooked on smoking. The charity said it had only sent packs out to a small number of people in the media in the North West to try to highlight the dangers of smoking [how does that work then? - CJS] to “people with influence, including MPs”.

But the move has been slammed by leading city politicians, who are demanding answers of the city’s Primary Care Trust – and Westminster – as to why public money was being put into the pockets of big tobacco firms.

Since more than 80% of the cost of a pack of cigarettes is tax, this is more a case of taking from one pocket to put into another than it is of enriching Big Tobacco.

Why public money is going into the pockets of lobbyists in the first place would be a more pertinent question. As the article points out, this wing of the Department of Health has form when it comes to campaigning on the taxpayer's shilling.

The Liverpool PCT has been at the forefront of anti-smoking campaigning, even calling for films which featured smoking to be given an 18 certificate in local cinemas.

That much we knew. You may recall the astro-truf group D-MYST is based on Merseyside.

But there is a much bigger problem with all this that the article fails to mention. It is, I am quite sure, against the law to give unsolicited cigarettes to people. This means that Tobacco Free Futures are not just being profligate with your money, they are also engaged in a criminal activity.

Perhaps the Liverpool constabulary should be notified?


Ann W. said...

There are only two things that a charity in Canada is prohibited from doing an illegal activity or a partisan political activity.

Now if a charity purchases cigarettes on native land they have broken the law, they have done something illegal.

"Although cheaper than a latte at Starbucks, my deal was no bargain compared with the one Cynthia Callard,
the executive director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada,a registered charity, obtained on a recent trip to the
Tyendinaga Reserve, near Belleville, Ont. “We bought 200
cigarettes [the equivalent of 10 small packages], in a plastic baggie, for $8, as opposed to about $80 in a store.”

But it gets better.
The standing committee on finance and economic affairs will now come to order as we continue this afternoon's hearings.
Our first deputation is from the Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, if you would come forward, please. Good afternoon.
You have 10 minutes for your submission. There may be up to five minutes of questioning following that. I would ask you to
identify yourselves for the purposes of our recording Hansard.
Ms. Cynthia Callard: On the basis of that, we believe that at least 10% of the cigarettes sold across Canada are illegal.
This is why we brought packages of illegal cigarettes to you today, to show how easy it was, how much of a threat they are.
Each of those bags of cigarettes contains the same number of cigarettes that are normally in a carton of cigarettes.
Each of those costs about the same price as a package of cigarettes. In other words, these cigarettes are
eight times cheaper than regular cigarettes.
Mr. Prue: First of all, what does one of these cost? You said it's the same as a pack. Was it about 10 bucks?
Ms. Callard: We purchased them on one reserve at a number of stores today. Ten dollars was the cheapest we paid and
$15 was the most we paid.

Anonymous said...

Criminals! Put them all in a smoke-free gaol!