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Time to bin ASH before it trashes another part of the economy

October 25th, 2010 Posted in Uncategorized by

Apologies for the delay in spotting this one, but it has just come to my attention that the ludicrously well-funded ASH Scotland (which has somehow reversed the Barnett Formula, receiving copiously more than its (also over-funded) English partner organisation… but more on this later) has just published it’s latest list of anti-smoking proposals for Scotland…

On the day that David Cameron has promised the business world a “forensic, relentless focus on growth”  my attention has been drawn to an excellent analysis of ASH Scotlands’ proposals by the Tobacco Retailers Alliance. You should check out the full article yourself, but to summarise, they identify two of ASH Scotland proposals that are particularly insane (my words not theirs!) as far as business is concerned.

1. Govt should increase the cost of smoking by 5% above the rate of inflation every year

2.Govt should look at options for introducing a positive award or incentives scheme for retailers who choose not to sell tobacco.

Both options are likely to result in only one thing – an INCREASE in the amount of tobacco that is sold illicitly – depriving the country of tax revenue (which we desperately need in case ASH had not noticed) whilst putting more money and influence into the hands of criminal gangs.  Do these people learn nothing?

Concerning the second proposal specifically, the Tobacco Retailers Alliance points out that for many small retailers tobacco sales accounts for a third of their trade, so the bill for such a policy to the Scottish Government would be stupendous…. So that, frankly is (almost certainly) a dead duck. At least while the country is broke… But don’t expect the drive to eliminate tobacco retailing to stop,  just because the powers that be have no money right now.  Read this and weep …

“…The idea that retailers should be discouraged from selling tobacco, and encouraged to sell other things in its place, is one that keeps coming up and I expect we’ll hear a lot more of it over the next few years. I once asked an official in the Scottish Government just what exactly retailers could sell in place of tobacco – what product would bring a hundred customers through a newsagent’s door every day, give him a profit equating to four Mars Bars per transaction and drive more add-on purchases than any other product category? After a long pause for thought, she shrugged her shoulders and replied, “Apples?”….

This, my friends, is what we are up against – idiotic dogma and evangelism – with no practical understanding (or just perhaps concern) as to the likely real impact of their insane ideas – all of it funded by taxpayer. And when it comes to ASH Scotland…WHAT FUNDING!!!!!  Simon Clark (Director of the smokers lobby group FOREST) highlighted the cost to the taxpayer of ASH Scotland just last week…

In 2008-09 ASH Scotland received £921,837 from the Scottish Government. In December 2009 they received a further £500,000 grant from the Big Lottery to fund a three-year research project into smoke-free homes in Scotland.

“At a time when governments are reviewing public spending we would seriously question the use of public money to fund a group that employs almost three times as many staff as its sister organisation in England.

“How can that possibly be justified at a time when all taxpayers, smokers and non-smokers alike, are being asked to tighten their belts?”

The Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign will need to become the Save Our Pubs and Clubs and Newsagents campaign if ASH  & Co get their way…

.. I am hoping it won’t come to this. I trust that today’s rhetoric from the Prime Minister about supporting business will prove not to be empty words and that this coalition will get off the backs of SME’s (and “big tobacco” for that matter) trying to keep this country afloat.

I also thought that Mr Cameron had called a halt to government departments spending money to lobby other parts of Government..surely Government funding to ASH is all this is ? and should stop now.

And for those that missed it.. and specifically for ASH and other Government meddlars here is a video we highlighted recently pointing out the issues surrounding the illicit trade in tobacco.

12 Responses to “Time to bin ASH before it trashes another part of the economy”

  1. ad Says:

    Why is the taxpayer funding a pressure group?

  2. JJ Says:

    Is it not time for affirmative action now…civil disobedience?

    This crap won’t stop anytime soon.

  3. George Speller Says:

    Here’s how we stop it.
    If smoking was a religion it would be all but impossible to persecute us. A religion will be officially recognised if there are (how many?) reported in the 2011 census. So fill the census in like good citizens, and put your religion as “smoker”

  4. Belinda Says:

    Your link to the original article from the Tobacco Retailers’ seems to be broken. But good to see that the atrocious level of funding going to ASH Scotland is being more widely broadcast.

  5. Belinda Says:

  6. Stephen Hoffman Says:

    I totally agreed.At the moment the Way Ash is working is as an arm of the department of health. It has to stop.

  7. Julian Harris Says:

    Belinda – thanks for the link, I’ve corrected it in the article.


  8. Eddie Douthwaite Says:

    Sheila Duffy CEO of ASH Scotland being questioned by the Health & Sport Committee in the Scottish Parliament:-

    ASH Scotland funding by Scottish Government 2008/2009 £938,000 ( 90% of their funding), Col 2010 of link below.

    “Mary Scanlon (Highlands and Islands) (Con): The ASH Scotland evidence is highly critical of the funding of the lobby groups from which we heard last week. We asked all the lobby groups where their funding came from and I think that we are aware of how they are all funded. It is only fair that I ask you where ASH Scotland’s funding comes from.

    Sheila Duffy: ASH Scotland is a registered Scottish charity, so our accounts are publicly available and audited. In common with the national

    Col 2010

    charities that deal with drugs and alcohol, we receive substantial funding from the Government. Because of that, we are reviewed periodically by the Government, which commissions an independent review to look at our cost-effectiveness and funding. I can certainly give you a breakdown of our costs for the previous financial year if that would be helpful.

    Mary Scanlon: I do not really want to know your costs; I just want to know where your funding comes from.

    Sheila Duffy: Ninety per cent of our funding comes from the Scottish Government; 2 per cent comes from the national health service; 6 per cent comes from other charities such as the British Heart Foundation; and 2 per cent comes from self-generated income and donations from individual supporters. A condition of the public funding that we receive is that we may not use it for campaigning and lobbying. That activity is funded from our earned and voluntary income.

    Mary Scanlon: You said that 90 per cent of your funding comes from the Scottish Government. How much is that in cash terms?

    Sheila Duffy: In 2008-09 it was £938,000, which went to support a great deal of project work in areas such as inequalities in relation to tobacco, youth development work, partnerships and the development of training for smoking-cessation services.

    Mary Scanlon: So, ASH Scotland is receiving nearly £1 million from the Government to fund it to lobby the Government.

    Sheila Duffy: No. Under the terms of the funding, we may not use it for lobbying.

    Mary Scanlon: You receive nearly £1 million from the Government.

    Sheila Duffy: We receive that funding to deliver objectives that are in line with national policy. We are clear and open about the work that we do and the funding that we receive. That is not true of groups that are funded by the tobacco industry. There is no clarity about the tobacco industry—

    Mary Scanlon: We heard from those groups last week; they got a good grilling from us all. You are being given nearly £1 million in order to support the Government’s national policy on smoking.

    Sheila Duffy: I must take issue with that statement, because the money that we are being given is to support objectives and outcomes that are in line with national health policies, including—

    Mary Scanlon: Which are determined by the Government. The Government determines national health policies and it gives you nearly £1 million to lobby on those policies.

    Col 2011

    Sheila Duffy: I must be clear about the point that the public funding that we receive may not be used for lobbying purposes. It is for delivering services and projects that are in line with public health policy in Scotland.

    Mary Scanlon: So, of the nearly £1 million, how much is used for lobbying? Can you give us a rough guesstimate in percentage terms?

    Sheila Duffy: I have not looked at the exact percentage, but a really tiny percentage of direct spend goes on lobbying. That work tends to be shared with other health charities whose aims are similar to ours.”

  9. Dave Atherton Says:

    All-Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health and ASH are quite shameless on their incestuous relationship.


    Mr Stephen Williams MP, House of Commons, London SW1A OAA. Tel: 020 7219 8416


    Action on Smoking and Health provides administrative support to the group, including sharing of information with members of the group, the occasional provision of briefing material at meetings, and occasional funding of receptions.

  10. Dave Atherton Says:

    The All Party Smoking Group’s mission statement includes “ assess the latest medical techniques to assist in smoking cessation..”

    Let me I ask you what is the most successful way of giving up smoking? Pharmaceutically funded nicotine replacement therapy is very unsuccessful with a quit rate of less than 5%. While Allen Carr’s Easy Way Organisation has a peer reviewed 53%. If you put Allen Carr into ASH’s search engine, no references are made to this company.

    I will let your boss Ms Arnott tell you how successful it is.

    27th November 2007

    Today Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), the public health charity has apologised to Allen Carr’s Easyway Organisation for unfounded comments made by its Director in November 2006.

    In November of last year, Deborah Arnott, Director of ASH claimed that specific success rates quoted by Allen Carr Easyway were “plucked out of the air” and “basically made up.” She made these comments whilst on the BBC Radio 4 “PM” programme during a piece concerning the death of Allen Carr, founder of Allen Carr’s Easyway organisation.

    Deborah Arnott’s comments referred to two independent studies conducted by eminent experts in the field of smoking cessation which had already been published in peer reviewed journals indicating a 53% success rate for Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking Clinics after 12 months.

    Following a complaint by Allen Carr’s Easyway International, Deborah Arnott and ASH now acknowledge that it was wrong for Ms Arnott to have made the comments relating to the 53% success rate and have issued an unreserved apology.

    ASH has agreed to pay the legal costs incurred by Allen Carr’s Easyway.


  11. Jane Says:

    It is the YouGov polls that are persuading Governments that everyone is happy with the smoking ban.
    Peter Kellner is the founder of YouGov polls and involved with ASH as well as being married to Baroness Ashton (Labours puppet MEP)
    Kellner delivers the poll results that ASH want him to and he then presents them to the Government.
    ASH is funded by the pharmaceutical companies as well as the taxpayer and in order for more funding they have to continue to spew out anti-smoking propaganda.
    The pharmaceutical companies earn $billions from ‘smoking cessation’ products and must keep the anti-smoking frenzy going.
    People, you are being stitched up left, right and centre.
    Break ASH and then you will see £billions being put back in the NHS that is now being spent on the anti-smoking bandwagon.

  12. ian Says:

    It seems hard to fathom why the government are so steadfastly pressing for plain packaging. These are the likely outcomes:

    If less people smoke there will be far less tax revenue coming in with the reduction in healthcare costs which will surely follow not kicking in for generations.
    The government will be sued for, or have to give compensation to the tobacco companies
    Smokers will buy more illegal cigarettes
    Retailers will have additional costs involved in the time taken for staff to find the brands smokers ask for when they are all the same.
    People will simply resort to putting their packs into cases such as these like I’ve done.
    Retailers will also find it harder with re-ordering when all the packs are the same as experienced in Australia
    And all for what? It’s not as if it’s 1950 and everyone thinks smoking is safe. Everyone is aware of the dangers of smoking. If people want to smoke, let them.

    I won’t be surprised if they make it illegal in 5 years when they realise that plain packaging isn’t reducing the numbers of smokers

    That’s my rant over, I’m off for a fag.