Thursday 19 July 2018

ASH are in charge

Public health minister Steve Brine tweeted yesterday about a parliamentary debate on the Tobacco Control Plan that is being held today.

This makes it sound as if it was the decision of Brine and his department to organise the debate but an e-mail circulated to MPs on July 4th tells a different story:

As you may know, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) have applied for a Backbench Business debate for late-July, to note the one-year anniversary of the Tobacco Control Plan (TCP) and discuss its vision for a ‘smokefree generation’. I wanted to let you know that the debate has been secured, for three hours in the Chamber, and should be on 19 July 2018. 

The full e-mail is below...

Isn't it interesting that a tiny pressure group can get a parliamentary debate whenever it feels like it? This is only possible because ASH are, in effect, part of the government. The Department of Health outsourced tobacco policy to these extremists many years ago. When ASH says 'jump', the government asks 'how high?' As I have mentioned before, it is no coincidence that ASH's Deborah Arnott is seen grinning behind Brine in his Twitter photo.

As it happens, there are some tobacco issues that need to be discussed in parliament. The Tobacco Control Plan specifically mentions the possibilities that Brexit opens up. It would be nice to see some MPs talk about their plans to legalise snus, or repeal the Tobacco Products Directive, or allow Juul to be launched in Britain (a low nicotine version hit the market this week; the real thing is illegal under EU laws). They might also discuss reforming the advertising laws to allow reduced risk products such as IQOS to make themselves known to smokers.

Alas, I suspect that the debate will mostly be about money. ASH have virtually run out of policy proposals since the government implemented everything they could think of. They now exist to keep themselves and their fellow travellers in work.

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