Monday 29 April 2024

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill echo chamber

When I mentioned the ludicrously one-sided Tobacco and Vapes Bill committee last week, I speculated about who would be called to give 'evidence'...

We shall see who gives oral evidence next week. I would guess it'll be Debs from ASH plus someone from the Department of Health, a local public health director and one of the other sockpuppet NGOs like FRESH.

The list has now been published. Sure enough, Debs will be first up to speak tomorrow morning alongside Sheila Duffy (ASH Scotland) and someone from Cancer Research UK (which funds ASH). Ailsa Rutter (CEO of FRESH) will appear in the afternoon alongside local public health director half-wit Greg Fell and a host of prohibitionist academics including Robert West, Linda Bauld and Ann McNeill.

On Wednesday, the MPs will be treated to the thoughts of England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty plus the chief medical officers from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. A couple of NHS mandarins are also on the bill. Anna Gilmore will make her inevitable appearance in the afternoon.

It doesn't stop there. They've also got someone from the godawful Local Government Association and various representatives from big charities, including Age UK for some reason (perhaps they will be talking about what happens when only pensioners are allowed to buy tobacco). The general secretary of the teachers' union NASWUT will also be making an appearance. 

The only person who vaguely represents the private sector is Adrian Simpson of the British Retail Consortium. He is also among the small handful of speakers who are not funded by the state. There will be no one representing smokers and no one making the case for personal freedom, although they have found space for an obscure PhD student, Laura Young, who wants to ban disposable vapes.

You just have to laugh, really. The Chinese Communist Party makes more of an effort to appear pluralist than this government. The only consolation is that the prohibitionist MPs will be stuck in this echo chamber listening to the same clichés for two solid days. I hope it feels like a lifetime.


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