Y'see, I'd drafted an article for lunchtime describing how today was a momentous day for this blog as the EU coverage would prove - conclusively and live on the internet - the mantra oft-emphasised here that tobacco control has never been about health. As things panned out, I was too busy battling impenetrable bureaucracy over VAT on vehicle disposals to Zimbabwe to be able to tidy it up and publish it.
Having now read back on Snowdon's live tweets, and having caught the last half hour myself, the smug self-interested clique of one track mind lobbyists posing as 'experts' in Brussels didn't disappoint. They seemed intent on stubbornly pushing plain packaging - for which there is no credible evidence that it will 'help' anyone quit - while studiously ignoring harm reduction avenues such as snus and e-cigs ... for which there is overwhelming, concrete, real-life evidence of success.
Former ASH Director Clive Bates this morning produced an excellent, evidence-based article on why the EU should be looking at lifting the ban on snus. Despite featuring pleas from cornerstones of European tobacco control in the past few decades such as Martin Jarvis and Karl Fagerström, they will be ignored - there is a blinkered agenda to adhere to.
It's never been about health.
On e-cigs, the vaping community has - as it has done before - mounted a valiant defence of the method which helped many thousands in this country to quit smoking. According to Deborah Arnott of ASH, 20% of those who try e-cigs give up tobacco for good which - using recent figures quoted by the BBC of a million UK users - equates to 200,000 people.
At today's proceedings in Brussels, there was little said about them though. Certainly not from the assembled tobacco continuation 'experts' who simply lined up to present their policy-based propaganda. The presentations were posted online here ... not one of them even mentioned snus or e-cigs at all despite important sections of the TPD containing dangerous regulation which will have a disastrous effect on harm reduction options. They did, however, all bang on about plain packaging which isn't included as a proposal in the TPD.
It's never been about health, you see.
Part of the campaign by vapers has been to furnish constituency MEPs with letters explaining personal experiences of e-cigs, along with links to evidence that proves their efficacy. The Ashtray Blog has been keeping an eye on replies and reporting on the current attitudes of MEPs.
It's only fair to comment that MEPs will probably have been very under-informed on e-cigs before reading these letters, but they definitely won't have been any more wise after today since tobacco controllers avoided the subject as much as possible. One tobacco control industry dinosaur for example, from Germany, could only stupidly offer the query "what if you put [e-liquid] in the fridge and it goes in your food?". Yes, she is apparently regarded as an 'expert' by the EU.
However, vapers' efforts have made sure that MEPs are at least aware of the salient points. Or, we'd like to think so anyway. Dozens of vapers will have received a reply stating that only certain MEPs were entitled to attend and ask questions today. One of them was Labour's Glenis Willmott, who also completely ignored all of them and was congratulated by a colleague for - you guessed it - talking about plain packaging.
@gleniswillmott great contribution. Remove the tobacco brand you remove the power of big tobacco. Plain packaging. twitter.com/C_Stihler_MEP/…
— Catherine Stihler (@C_Stihler_MEP) February 25, 2013
It would seem that, no matter how many communications Willmott received from fellow Labour MEPs (or should have done anyway, we will never know), she just carried on with her own ill-judged rhetoric regardless.
Because, as we know, it's never been about health.
Meanwhile, in the US, the FDA - which is tasked with finding some regulatory niche for massively successful e-cigs - has just come under the control of a guy who unashamedly works for the patch and gum peddling pharmaceutical industry. You know, those in direct competition with e-cigs?
Nope. It's never been about health, you're better off just following the money for the real motivation behind these disgusting people.