Monday 2 April 2012

Why are we paying for this? (part 4)

Dick Puddlecote has lifted the lid on the government's funding of the pro-plain packaging campaign. Bristol Primary Care Trust has given SmokeFree South-West no less than £468,462.06 to spend on billboard, digital and other marketing to promote a policy which the Department of Health has officially not made it's mind up about (it is, after all, due to launch one of its notorious 'public consultations', so in theory it has an open mind).

And what misleading marketing it is. The billboard above is a typical product of the millions being spent by the DoH on the plain packaging campaign. Notice the unsubstantiated claim that plain packaging will "protect children" (from what? - whatever it is, the DoH has previously stated that the evidence in favour of plain packaging is "speculative") and the false implication that plain packs will be, well, plain, when they will actually be used to depict whatever gruesome image takes the fancy of the warped minds of 'tobacco control professionals' (see below). It is questionable whether such images (a) are more suitable for children to see, and (b) really "make cigarette packs less noticeable".

Doubtless the people of Bristol will be delighted to hear that large sums of money are being diverted away from patient care to fund an advertising campaign for this barrel-scraping exercise. This is just the tip of the iceberg, of course. Dick estimates that the national total could be around £5 million. Undoubtedly it will number in the millions. There are 151 PCTs in England alone, and it seems that a good proportion of them - perhaps all of them - are using taxpayers' money to lobby taxpayers and politicians. NHS Devon, for example, gave SmokeFree South-West £370,000 last year. Like the other 'SmokeFree' groups, SmokeFree South-West provide no public services and exist only to campaign for legislation and influence public opinion.

Perhaps I'm very old fashioned, but I always thought it was the people who campaigned for legislation and the government who listened. As the Department of Health tightens its grip on policy-making, those roles seem to have been reversed.


hyperCRYPTICal said...

Excellent post Chris - I have one yet to be completed after my last ciggie purchasing adventure...

... when completed it is possible I may link to your blog.

Anna :o]

Ivan D said...

I have the misfortune to have to visit Bristol hospitals on business from time to time. Whole areas near the hospitals are festooned with smokefree banners and there is a lady with a smokefree booth who sets up in public areas and hands out advice to all comers. I find it really disturbing and am reminded of newsreels from the Soviet era. It must cost a bit too.

Frank J said...

We're paying for it because this Govt., despite it's initial utterances in opposition, have been levered into complying with our 'treaty obligations' (sic. A Milton) to the FCTC, that pre Magna Carta bit of parchment signed at the behest of one A. Blair. No doubt, in accordance with his character, he'd totally forgotten what it was 3 weeks later.

They are spending our taxes, irrespective of their big words, attempting to make themselves look fair minded and 'consultative' to the country when the decision has already been made for them and by them.

As a life long Tory, never again! They are a bunch of spineless w*****s.

Anonymous said...

Western governments are about to jump the shark.
If they have not done so already.
The edicts coming from the bubble are "beyond humour".
In fact they just get more petty and unproductive with each new piece of stifling insanity.
I do not know whether to laugh or sharpen the pitchfork.

Anonymous said...

Smoking causes blindness? Can't recall hearing that one before.

The old eugenicists wanted to sterilize blind people. They ignored that the vast majority of blindness is unrelated to genes. It results from premature birth or trauma in the womb or accidents in life in nearly all cases. But 'eradicating blindness' went down well with the public so the eugenicists touted that they were out to do that.

Maybe the Antis want us to believe that smokers are extinguishing their butts on their eyeballs. Or on their neighbors' eyeballs.

Anyway, those British packs don't seem very inobtrusive to me. I guess you could call them eye-catching in a stomach-wrenching sort of way. I suppose some kids would like them: the kind of kids who pull wings off butterflies.

Kids are starting to scare me. Anti is out to create new generations of Hitler Youth.

farmland investment said...

Another case of the nanny state run amuck. Step by step it chips away at our freedom, like a frog in boiling water.