Again, it is those mischievous e-cigs doing the exposing.
BRUSSELS — Facing a decision on whether to impose tight restrictions on a booming market for electronic cigarettes, members of the European Parliament received a pleading letter in September that was signed by thousands of former smokers worried that “the positive story of e-cigarettes may be about to come to an abrupt halt.”
The signatures had been collected via a website, saveecigs.com, which proclaimed itself the voice of the “forgotten millions in this debate” — people who had taken up e-cigarettes to stop smoking, and their grateful families.
The website, however, was not quite the grass-roots effort it claimed to be. The text of the letter it asked people to sign was drafted by a London lobbyist hired by Totally Wicked, an e-cigarette company. The website had been set up by a British woman living in Iceland who had previously worked for the owners of Totally Wicked.That is enough. It's all that is needed to jerk the knee of glorious democratic thinkers of our age such as Martin McKee.
So the "army of vapers" not #astroturf then? NY Times looks under the turf #ecigs http://t.co/PGrLHMQvP8
— Martin McKee (@martinmckee) November 10, 2013
You see, a grass roots effort involving millions of consumers is only worth listening to if it is organised by ordinary Joes and Janes themselves.
They are supposed to come together organically; find huge funds to set up web sites and petitions; after - of course - keeping their eyes continually on the impenetrable machinations of EU regulatory bodies buried amongst thousands of EU web pages; and all without any company pointing potentially troublesome proposed legislation out to them.
No enjoying a life for you plebs, oh no. You must be as dedicated to trawling through acres of regulations on every subject you remotely care about as Martin McKee and the public health community - who are paid a hefty salary to do precisely that all day - or you are to be considered an industry stooge, just like half a million public consultation responses on plain packaging can be air-brushed out of political discourse as if they didn't happen..
But, unlike you, the other side are exempt from accusations of astroturfing. Despite, err ...
Among the companies arrayed against the e-cigarette industry were GlaxoSmithKline, the London-based pharmaceutical company, which sells Nicorette nicotine chewing gum in the United States, and Johnson & Johnson, the American consumer products company, which owns the manufacturer of Nicorette gum, patches and inhalers.Now is not the time to draw attention to the billions in fines pharma companies have been served with for fraud and malfeasance, it's irrelevant because they have never lobbied McKee or anyone else in the tobacco control industry. Not. Ever.
Sponsored, yes, but that's OK, because professional tax-sponger McKee and his ilk quite like them, they fit their anti-vape and smoke agenda perfectly.
“Are these people all in the pay of e-cig companies?” said Linda McAvan, an influential member of Parliament’s environment and public health committee. “No. But they have been told by these companies that Brussels wants to take away their product. They are genuinely angry. But their anger has been fed.”What? Consumers are angry about something they were told would prevent them from consuming a product they enjoy? How fucking outrageous! But it's OK, they've been alerted by an e-cig company, so we can just ignore them as astroturf groups.
Their complaints should dribble in weakly, haphazardly, and ignorantly so highly-paid McAvan and her chums can continue making hay with their personal preferences while the spotlight is anywhere but on their dubious and borderline criminal cockroachery. The public actually knowing what is going on is so very inconvenient, isn't it?
This is cognitive dissonance at its most stark. Thousands of vapers have engaged in the democratic process by writing to MPs and MEPs, while state-funded, pharma-sponsored public health pros desperately invent ways to ignore anything someone outside of their influence says.
And they call others sock puppets? Go figure.