Friday 7 September 2018

The secrecy and paranoia of the WHO

With the WHO's anti-nicotine COP8 conference on the horizon, Harry Shapiro has written a timely article about the way the fanatics who run this shindig have weaponised Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. I'd nearly forgotten about them excluding Interpol from the conference in Delhi on the grounds that it is some sort of tobacco industry front group...

As originally written, Article 5.3 simply required Parties to protect their tobacco control policies from tobacco industry influence. Period. Even the subsequently published Guidelines to 5.3 broken down into four Principles only required Parties to have ‘accountable and transparent’ dealings with the industry. But these ‘Guidelines’ have morphed into Holy Writ, turning the whole enterprise into something resembling a fundamentalist Doomsday cult seeing conspiracy and ‘interference’ at every turn. There is now FCTC lore which has become insanely over-interpreted to mean that there should be no contact whatsoever not only with the industry, but with any organisation or individual that has any links whatsoever with the industry in any capacity. This manifests itself, for example, in the COP meetings which unlike for example the Climate Change Framework meetings, will not allow entry to industrial interests or any organisations that do not agree with its views. Any NGO wishing access has to be a member of the FCA while, on the grounds that somebody from the evil Empire might just hear what is going on, the public and the media are also pretty much excluded from the whole event and from reading the deliberations of the meeting. This is taken to ludicrous lengths by refusing access to Interpol because one of the world’s major law enforcement agencies has been working with the industry to combat the illicit tobacco trade. The FCTC Secretariat, clearly intoxicated with power, is now even trying to dictate to the Parties by attempting for a second time to push through a new rule which would exclude any delegate with links to state-owned tobacco industries. Even the Parties have been pushing back on that one.

But cloaking a publicly funded and therefore publicly accountable agency in secrecy is bad enough, but for a global public health agency to put millions of lives at risk in the service of rampant self-aggrandisement is another matter altogether. Because the WHO persists in the fallacy against all the evidence that safer nicotine products are just a ruse by Big Tobacco to renormalise smoking, wherever possible, the agency along with its NGO allies, invokes 5.3 to effectively close down any debate on the matter by simply accusing advocacy and consumer groups and any professionals engaged in tobacco harm reduction as being Big Tobacco stooges.

Do read it all.

No comments: