Friday 29 April 2016

Meanwhile in Brussels...

So the Royal College of Physicians have put out a non-prohibitionist report on e-cigarettes, which was nice. It would have been nicer if they'd said something along the same lines when the EU was plotting the destruction of the vaping industry, but it's better than nothing.

And yet the fact remains that the EU's regulations on e-cigarettes (and tobacco) will come into force in three weeks time and there's nothing anybody can do about it. Nor is there much anybody can do to stop the European Commission meddling in our private lives in other ways. Events of the last fortnight have demonstrated once again that the EU has an unquenchable thirst for lifestyle regulation. 

Last week, I mentioned that the EU's latest Health Commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, has decided it is his job to make people drink less, whether they want to or not.

'I am in favor of reducing the use of alcohol in the EU; not only alcohol-related harm, but also use.'

This week, Andriukaitis upped the ante on his control freakery when he expressed his desire to stamp out e-cigarettes...

'I personally believe that electronic cigarettes must be regulated as strong as possible because from my point of view it is a danger for public health.' 

And then on Wednesday, he attended an EU debate on tobacco lobbying at which nobody from the tobacco industry - nor any of its customers - were invited to speak. Politico's report gives a good flavour of the censorious paranoia of the public health racket in Brussels.  There is a full video of the 'debate' online which is pretty hard to stomach since it involves tax-sponging prohibitionists taking soft ball questions from puppet NGOs like the European Public Health Alliance, but it is a valuable reminder of the cult-like echo chamber in which these people live.

The topic under discussion was Article 5.3 of the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which 'public health' scoundrels like to pretend prohibits tobacco industry employees from talking to politicians. They want this extended and strengthened so that the only voices heard in the debate are their own.

I've said before that I would prefer politicians to listen to consumers than to lobbyists, but that idea never seems to occur to EU officials, let alone to anti-smoking fanatics. Lobbying is nevertheless a necessary evil and if you are obsessed with using the law to stop one side sharing their evidence and opinions it strongly suggests that you are not very confident in your own evidence and opinions.

Furthermore, if you are a special interest group with an extreme agenda - in this instance, ending all tobacco use on planet Earth - it is important for democracy that other perspectives to be heard, even if they are financially motivated.

The anti-tobacco elite does not see it this way, of course. They do not see themselves as a special interest group at all. At one point during the debate Pascal Diethelm made an unintentionally amusing attempt to distinguish 'bad' lobbyists from (his own) 'good' lobbyists, saying...

'If you defend the public interest, you are not a lobbyist. You are someone who defends the public interest.'

No, Pascal. You are someone lobbying for a special interest, like every other lobbyist.

Students of the slippery slope will not be surprised to hear that the 'public health' racket wants the principle of Article 5.3 extended to everybody who disagrees with them. At 1 hour 17 minutes, Roberto Bertollini says...

'The FCTC is a sort of model, in my view, for other areas where we do not have an international treaty of the same value but we have interference of vested interests in "public health" policies. I'm thinking about sugar and nutrition and alcohol and other areas. [The FCTC is] a model - a first case - which could become, hopefully, a practice more extensively used for all the other issues of concern for "public health".

So there you have it. Silencing your opponents, crushing e-cigarettes and forcing down alcohol consumption. All in a day's work for the lifestyle regulators. And with unelected bodies like the WHO and the European Commission onside, they've found just the way to do it without having to bother with all that pesky democracy stuff.

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