Friday 29 September 2017

Martin McKee is wrong about the EU

In the last 18 months, fat socialist toad Martin McKee has been too busy wetting his knickers about Brexit to fully concentrate on his vendetta against vapers, smokers and drinkers. Nothing focuses the mind like a gravy train coming to a halt.

If there is anyone in 'public health' who voted for Brexit, they've kept it quiet. The EU is a perfect fit for the nanny state racket. They are both unaccountable, undemocratic, elitist projects that enrich themselves on the money of their victims.

McKee has teamed up with the overtly political Lancet magazine ('journal' is too respectable a word for it these days) to make the case for a soft Brexit, ie. staying in the EU. I haven't read the article and have no intention of doing so, but I've seen the press release and that was enough.

The NHS has benefitted from €3.5 billion in funds from the European Investment Bank since 2001...

That's less than £200 million a year. The NHS budget is currently £125 billion a year. Elsewhere in the article, McKee says that the £650 million we spend on healthcare for Brits abroad 'is marginal compared to the NHS budget'. Indeed it is. In any case, we are the ones who pay for the €3.5 billion that we 'benefit' from because our net contribution to the EU is a not-at-all marginal £8.6 billion a year. You don't need to be Carol Vorderman to work out that we would have more money to spend on healthcare if we left the EU.

But the main thing that caught my eye was this...

In terms of public health, the loss of the EU’s structures for managing public health pose a range of threats. For example, the UK relies on EU law for its tobacco policies, and the authors warn that without these the UK could become a prime target for the tobacco industry post-Brexit. 

This may play well with Lancet readers but it is simply untrue. The UK does not 'rely' on the EU for its tobacco policies. On the contrary, the EU is generally less draconian than Britain when it comes to anti-smoking, anti-obesity and temperance policies. Let's take a look at the UK's main tobacco policies:

Smoking ban - nothing to do with the EU
Plain packaging - nothing to do with the EU
Display ban - nothing to do with the EU
Ban on tobacco vending machines - nothing to do with the EU
Graphic warnings - now EU law but introduced by the UK years earlier and now superseded by plain packaging (see above)
Ban on smoking in cars - nothing to do with the EU
Advertising ban - nothing to do with the EU although a partial ban is EU law

The only anti-smoking policy that Britain has because of EU law is the ban on packs of ten cigarettes. If you extend it to anti-tobacco policies you could also include the ban on snus, although that only happened because the UK banned it first.

The ban on ten packs is stupid and counter-productive. The ban on snus is even more so. In a few years, member states will also have to ban menthol cigarettes thanks to EU law but that is the sum total of tobacco laws that Britain have had to implement as a result of Brussels. We have brought everything else on ourselves.

It is fair to say that British politicians didn't have much of a say on either the ban on ten packs or the looming prohibition of menthol cigarettes. Most of them seemed to have no idea they had been agreed in Brussels, including the Prime Minister. Whether they want to keep these laws after Brexit will be a decision for them. It will be easy to do since the Children's Bill is an enabling act that gives the health minister power to regulate tobacco without going through parliament. But all the other laws will stay in place even if we repeal both Tobacco Products Directives because they did not emanate from the EU in the first place.

So McKee is simply wrong. As usual.

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