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Government-funded anti-smoking quangos funded by other government-funded quangos – agree with the Government – SHOCK!

March 24th, 2010 Posted in UK Politics by

Here we are knee deep in debt and all I see is a lot of government money – money we cant afford – being spent to shore up Government plans for more interference. Well this is just too rich for me..

And its not as though the money was spent on research, attributed to the Government. Oh no that would be too straightforward. No this bit of political manoeuvring is just about as devious as any I have seen in a while.

Widely credited as “a report from the Royal College of Physicians”, a document was released today concluding  that the  “acceptability” of smoking must be changed (don’t you just cringe when that kind of language is used ?) and  that .. the easiest way to do this is a blanket ban in cars and vans, parks and play areas.

Naturally the media pounce on this explosive news. The illustrious Royal College bestow their views and we must all jump. We have to “save the kids” after all.

But look beyond the headlines and what you see is Government sponsored documentation that states X (a lot of kids suffer from asthma) and concludes that something completely disproportinate and over the top MUST be done … a blanket ban on smoking in cars and vans – not just those carrying children you note – and a ban on smoking in open spaces such as parks.

Er? How did they make that leap ?

The answer is fairly clear…. The government has already stated that it is  “looking at ways to go further to reduce the 9,500 children admitted to hospital every year as a direct result of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke“.  Andy Burnham, Health Secretary has also confirmed his  “commitment to virtually eradicate the health harms caused by smoking..(and).. halve smoking by 2020″ 

So now the Royal College of Physicians is concluding that banning smoking in cars, vans and open spaces is the way to go. Surprised? Don’t be.

Look at who has funded this piece of research. Cancer Research UK and the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies (UKCTCS). What is the UKCTCS you may ask. A group of universities that develop ways to reduce numbers smoking. Aah but who funds the UKCTSC? Well, primarily this seems to be the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)  which is in turn primarily funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) and MRC (Medical Research Council  a tax-payer funded organisation dedicated “to improving human health”) …You see where I am going with this ? You cant move more than an inch in any direction and this report from the Royal College of Physicians has Government money oozing from every orifice.

And who is one of the primary authors quoted ? Martin Dockrell, director of policy at the vocal anti-smoking group ASH (funded by the Department of  Health no less) . Dockerall, by ASH’ own admission, “specialises in using research data to make the case for policy reform”. If that doesn’t send alarm bells ringing out about the intention and validity of this “report” then I don’t know what does.

And lets not ignore the fact that the real agenda here is to “eradicate” smoking (as Mr Burnham has stated). John Britton leads the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies (and who sits on the board of trustees of ASH) and is the principle author of this report who has gone on record stating…. “This report isn’t just about protecting children from passive smoking, it’s about taking smoking completely out of children’s lives. Adults need to think about who’s seeing them smoke.” 

Well they should have thought about that before they banned smoking in the one place where kids would not see smoking – in the pubs!

And if you want further evidence - Britton’s explanation for why there should be a blanket ban on smoking in vehicles – should suffice… “even drivers who never had child passengers should get out of their cars before lighting up for reasons of road safety” Hmmm road safety expert as well are we? I can’t actually find his credentials to speak on road safety but I am sure they are there – somewhere.

So what we have here is Government-funded anti-smoking quango’s working with other Government anti-smoking quango’s,  being funded by other Government quango’s all agreeing with Government published aims. Anyone here really expecting all those institutions, relying on Government cash, to conclude anything else?

5 Responses to “Government-funded anti-smoking quangos funded by other government-funded quangos – agree with the Government – SHOCK!”

  1. Geoffrey Payne Says:

    I think the opposite is true.
    Historically it has been scientific research funded by the tobacco industry that claimed that smoking doesn’t damage health that has since shown to be false, whilst government funded research that said otherwise has proved to be true.
    If government research lacks credibility, I would expect the editors of the scientific journals like Science magazine to speak out. Thus far they have not.
    So I trust the research that says that secondary smoking damages health. And of course Libertarians have their own agenda to disagree with this, not on the grounds of science, but because there is no libertarian solution for tackling this problem. Better therefore to claim the problem does not exist in the first place.


  2. Angela Harbutt Says:

    Geoff you are so last decade x


  3. tim leunig Says:

    The ESRC does not require or expect, explicitly or implicitly, its researchers to agree with govt. Indeed, the vast majority of ESRC funded projects are critical of govt. See, for example, the Public Services Programme, chaired by Christopher Hood (or my own paper on railways within it).


  4. angela Harbutt Says:

    Tim. You may well be right that the ESRC doesnt expect its authors to agree with govt all the time….. But the ESRC did not write this high profile report that has been splashed around the media so widely – they just helped fund the organisation that did…..

    My point was a more general one.

    (…and try telling the recently sacked Prof Nutt from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs that the fact that he disagreed with govt had no bearing on his sacking and see if he agrees with you..)


  5. Karin (Berlin-Germany) Says:

    @Geoffrey,

    Who tells us that these studies (proofing the harms of tobacco use) are correctly and are not issued not only to change peoples social behaviour but also peoples “addiction” to democracy with all the personal freedom we are losing since more than a decade?

    It may sound absurd but already about 70 years ago the ruling nazis in Germany explained that “smoking is a an obsolete libertarian habit what needs to be eradicated”.

    Surely smoking can increase your risk for having more or less severe diseases. But this is risks is not that high as announced in the media as they almost don’t publish the real risk level. When leaving close to very traffic streets you almost have the same risks to develop the same diseases.

    When non-smoking activities started in Germany as well many smokers and non-smokers suspected already that this would be the beginning of a never ending campaign to forbid and ban what ever people could be “addicted” to and they foretold that the next would be restriciting and/or banning
    alcohol.

    Anti-alcohol campaigners have already claimed the FCTC a masterplan that can and should be used as aa well working design to restrict and/or ban the use of alcohol according to same rules and using findings of anti-smoking studies to pronounce this to the public. And they are urging now the need of a FCAC.

    Last week WHO released a 24-paged paper with rules and regulations to reduce the harm of alcohol. This paper is not yet bindingly for the 193 states which has signed it and it suggests to increase prices for alcohol and to reduce opening times of bars and pubs. But it is only a question of time when this paper becomes mandatory to all signing states. Especially in the EU this paper will become “mandatory” because the EU uses WHO non-mandatory papers to create restrictions, bills and regulations that all EU states have to adopt in national law.

    Back to democracy. Bars and pubs (and specially pubs) are known as places where people could and still can discuss almost political issues. But when de-democrating the society it is of course a drawback to have such places. And to use health as a topic for various restrictions and bans is the most easiest option to achieve accordance.

    We have so many studies proofing that smoking and drinking harms profoundly that as a result to this we should be extincted since centuries.


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