Thursday, 4 February 2016

Government Lobbying Government Spotted In Bristol

ASH organised a massive protest in Bristol yesterday.

What larks, eh?

The reference to "make them pay" is a demand by ASH that the government pass a law to impose a levy on tobacco companies to pay for tobacco control. That is, to steal money from legal profit-making businesses to pay for the likes of miserable, self-perpetuating, tax-draining, anti-social troughers like ASH. Ingenious, huh?
ASH, together with more than 120 health organisations, is backing Cancer Research UK’s call to make tobacco companies ‘Cough Up’ for the harm they cause to millions of UK citizens
Cancer Research UK's call? That's funny, because I distinctly remember seeing it in a report called Smoking Still Kills written by, erm, ASH.
➤ Introduce a new annual levy on tobacco companies, the Tobacco Companies Obligation, to help fund evidence-based* tobacco control and Stop Smoking Services in England.
And who paid for this report? Well you did of course, to the tune of £200k.

Oh, ASH will quibble about this, of course, they always do. They claim that that particular portion of taxpayer funding is not used for their political campaigning, oh no.

Y'see, when they receive the grant from the Department of Health, what they actually do is keep it in a box in the corner of their Hatton Garden office suite. If Debs does some work on the government's "Tobacco Control Plan", she'll dip in and grab a few tenners instead of it being paid out of the payroll; if Amanda Sandford comments on it for the BBC she will fish around in the box for loose change to pay her train fare; and if Hazel Cheesywotsit writes a couple of paragraphs of copy whoever is nearest to the Section 64 box will lob her a wad of notes based on how many words she penned. It's all sectioned up nicely at ASH HQ, nothing is just dropped in the pot with all their other funding. Absolutely not!

I think I must try this with my business one day. When someone asks for a pay rise (because we're doing quite well at the moment) I'll say "ah yes, but the profit isn't being earned on your particular contract, so I should actually be considering cutting your wages instead". I'm sure they'll understand.

No, it's poppycock. Section 64 grants have always been paid to ASH to produce their "Smoking Kills" series of reports, it's just that they are being stung by criticisms of 'government lobbying government' recently so have had a meeting with Cancer Research UK and decided it would be less toxic if the latter was credited with funding it instead. Especially since this one is demanding a levy on tobacco companies to hand directly to ASH and their chums. It's nothing more than an accountancy journal entry, because CRUK have given ASH money for quite a while now, in fact about as long as ASH have been receiving heat about their funding, funny that. The report which demands government steal from businesses to give to ASH is written by ASH, hosted on ASH's website, and the editorial board is dominated by ASH.

Besides, ASH have admitted themselves in the past that they certainly do use Section 64 grants for lobbying [pdf page 46].
Its DH grant for 2008-11 amounted to £572,500 and was earmarked for a project entitled ‘Capitalising on Smokefree: the way forward’. This project was rather non-specific, with the stated aim of ensuring that ‘ASH recommendations’ were ‘acted on by policy makers’. These recommendations included a smoking ban in prisons, higher tobacco taxes and limiting ‘promotional opportunities for tobacco products both on and off the packet.’ Contrary to the DH’s claim that it does not fund external research, ASH promised to provide ‘policy development research, research and analysis for DH, and for other government departments.’ Contrary to ministerial assurances that ‘none of this funding is to be used for lobbying purposes’, ASH specifically pledged to use part of this Section 64 grant for ‘media advocacy and lobbying’.
So, to recap, government dollies up the annual barrowload of taxpayer cash to ASH (every year for 43 years now); they produce a report demanding government pass a law to impose a levy on tobacco companies (to benefit themselves); then trot down to Bristol and drag some kids along to pretend it's not a government lobbying government thing.

No. It is government lobbying government. ASH receive money from the government, write a report recommending a tobacco levy, then lobby government for a tobacco levy. It's not rocket science.

It's also, sadly, not uncommon when it comes to tobacco control liars.

* "Evidence-based"? Pfft!

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