Monday 27 August 2012

Simple Simon's slippery slope

Dick Puddlecote has had endless fun with (ASH Director) Deborah Arnott's hostage-to-fortune refusal to accept what she calls...

"the “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false." 

Barely a day passes without some anti-alcohol or anti-lemonade zealot paying homage to the anti-smoking crusade as they walk down the furrow ploughed by tobacco control, and yet the likes of Arnott still defiantly—some would say dishonestly—insist that there is no slippery slope.

As I mentioned last week, talk Down Under has turned to full-on prohibition but even that is not enough to make the champions of non-smoking sections on aeroplanes admit that we have been sold a lemon.

Interviewed on that very subject, protester-turned-quackademic Simon Fenton Chapman said:

Look, if the slope is slippery, it's the most unslippery slippery dip I've ever seen in my life. We started banning tobacco advertising in 1976 and there has been no other commodity where there has been anything like a serious move to do what we've done with tobacco. And that's because there are great big differences between tobacco and all other commodities.

So, you know, the comparisons with hamburgers and chocolate bars and alcohol and such with like that, they're just really don't stack up.

Presumably Chapman has never heard of the Australian government's own Preventative Health Taskforce, which has, since 2009, been calling for...

Advertising bans on junk food and alcohol

I guess that doesn't count as a "serious move to do what we've done with tobacco" and we should also ignore ABC News when it says that the plan to ban alcohol advertising in sporting venues is "similar to the method used for tobacco laws more than 20 years ago". And when a national medical journal calls for a total ban on alcohol advertising, saying: "Surely the time has come to treat alcohol in the same way as tobacco products?" we must turn a blind eye. After all, the great man has told us for years that the slippery slope is a myth. In an article written in 2003 he said:

Arguments used to avoid, delay, and dilute health warnings

Within the four strategies outlined above, the industry has used six main arguments to oppose the introduction and strengthening of warnings:
  • tobacco warnings are the start of a “slippery slope”

Elaborating on the first of those six arguments, Chapman wrote:

”Slippery slope”

In pre-warning days, when arguments could be couched in incredulity that tobacco should be singled out from other consumer products, the industry used “slippery slope” or “thin edge of the wedge” rhetoric, arguing that the policy would inexorably bleed into other product areas.

“The precedent is one which could easily come to affect other industries. For instance, a number of medical scientists claim that butter and milk are dangerous to the health of some people. It is recognised that drinking too much liquor or reckless driving are hazards to life... can we expect all these products to carry a ‘danger’ label ...?”

This argument appears to have quickly lost momentum when the dire predictions of rampant warnings never materialised.

No danger of alcohol being given a "danger label" under Chapman's watch, then. Why, that's crazy tobacco industry "thin end of the wedge" rhetoric! So we should definitely ignore the sounds coming from the Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies this month:

"DEMON drink" is the new health battle-ground, with higher taxes, drinking ages and graphic warnings similar to those on tobacco products touted as ways to fight alcohol-related birth defects and other issues.

But perhaps we should not condemn Chapman for the sins of others. He can't help it if a few of his 'public health' colleagues speak out of turn and he was still on diplomatically defensive form when he spoke to the Guardian earlier this year. On that occasion he was insistent that his latest ruse—plain packaging—would definitely not be the start of another slippery slope:

He derides any idea of plain packaging for alcohol, because it would antagonise people unnecessarily...

He "derides" it, you will note, not because he thinks it is wrong, illiberal, authoritarian or excessive, but because it would be politically unacceptable in the current environment. A little more softening-up required before the public will fall for that one, I fancy.

There is, however, less softening-up required to push some of his other erstwhile "unique-to-tobacco" policies down the slope...

...but backs restricted opening times for pubs and clubs, graphic warnings on labels and tougher controls on licensing.

Didn't take long, did it? Graphic warnings were first used on cigarette packs in Australia in 2006 and then, as now, we were told that there was no slippery slope that would lead to other products (eg. alcohol) getting the same treatment. If six years is considered a reasonable interlude, we can expect the sociopathic sociologist to be calling for plain packaged alcohol in 2018. The way things are going, it could well be sooner.

Here's a guy who squeals in indignation at the suggestion that his latest anti-smoking ruse will be rolled out to other products while simultaneously calling for his last anti-smoking ruse to be rolled out to other products. What kind of collective amnesia is the media suffering from to take such a fellow at face value?

Meanwhile, the news that Tasmania is contemplating Simple Si's next-but-one anti-smoking ruse of total prohibition had him rushing to Google to find any sliver of evidence to show that prohibition could be anything other than the fiasco...

Of course you're not supporting prohibition, Simon. Perish the thought. That would be a "myth", just like the slippery slope.


You can watch Chapman defending Prohibition on Australian TV here. James Patterson of the IPA makes the counter-argument. After five minutes, Chapman realises he's losing the argument and so does the usual trick of playing the man instead of the ball. Viva academia!


Ivan D said...

I think that "Slippery Simon" has a nice ring to it. He is a very disingenuous man but as long as he stays one step ahead of the truth then I suppose the pay checks keep coming. Let's face it, the collective intellectual might of the current Australian government is unlikely to expose him.

I am sure that it is possible to claim "success" for prohibition if you look at carefully selected statistics and ignore massive collateral damage. That is a standard public health industry approach of course. Honesty is not.

SadButMadLad said...

Yes, prohibition worked. But only during the prohibition. And only a little bit because those who really wanted to could still drink. And at what cost? Huge amounts of crime. But then Simple Si believes that the means justifies the end. To stop one person smoking is worth a large level of crime and jailing lots of people.

His campaign against a minority is the same as previous campaigns against other minorities such as blacks and gays. It is the imposition of his values on others using the power of the state.

JohnB said...

“Th..lippery th..lope! Th..lippery th..lope!!” screams the Strine Simple Simon Crapman. “There’th NO th…lippery thhhh…lope”.

The antismoking zealots’ credo:

People agree with us because we’re right. People disagree with us because we’re right.

How do you reason with such folk?

Here’s Simple Simon debating the Tasmaniac “endgame”. Poor Simon doesn’t understand too much science or history, hijacking both to push his antismoking fixation/hatred. When the debate isn’t going his way, the Strine “shenanigist” – the master of blather - degenerates to statistical “death tolls” and smears, and, of course, refers to those who smoke as just “nicotine addicts”.

Anonymous said...

Here we go AGAIN!
Heart attacks among non-smokers fall by a QUARTER in German city after ban stubs out passive smoking

Read more:

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX “The precedent is one which could easily come to affect other industries. For instance, a number of medical scientists claim that butter and milk are dangerous to the health of some people. It is recognised that drinking too much liquor or reckless driving are hazards to life... can we expect all these products to carry a ‘danger’ label ...?”

This argument appears to have quickly lost momentum when the dire predictions of rampant warnings never materialised.XX

So, this twat has never heard of the "fat tax" in Denmark then, Whereby the Danes are actualy running shopping trips over the border into Germany, Sweden, Holland, to buy butter, full milk, full fat bacon, etc at prices they can afford?

Or the fact that Sweden is already "watching the situation closely" to see if they can follow suit?