Sunday 10 April 2016

The Canonisation Of Clive Bates, Part 3

Last week I posted an article which fit nicely in with this blog's ethos of pro-choice, anti-regulation, free markets and a deep hatred of 'public health'. Unfortunately, it was deemed beyond the pale by Simon Clark of Forest because it featured a fierce anti 'public health' rant from Clive Bates.

This was unacceptable, apparently, because of Bates's past. Much like 'public health' and their quoting of industry documents from the 1960s, unbeknownst to me there is also now a rule on our side which dictates that because Bates was formerly (13 years ago) paid to advocate for ASH, nothing he ever says again can be praised. Even if it involves telling 'public health' to "Just leave us alone! Just get off our backs!", an exhortation which is so close to the attitude I have towards 'public health' that I could even be forgiven (I would have thought) for installing it as the blog's motto!

I did try to explain why I was so enamoured with Bates's rant, but it wasn't good enough. The fact that I even did that apparently meant that my "credibility is shot", that I am now "not one of us anymore", and "just barely containing the urge to spout antismoking slogans", because "[Bates] is not to be trusted by smokers".

So it's curious that a letter to the Times written by Bates was enthusiastically reproduced by Forest Eireann - an offshoot of Simon Clark's Forest - the other day.

What's more, another offshoot of Forest - Action on Consumer Choice - also retweeted Forest Eireann's approval ...

... despite it containing another Bates denouement which, one assumes, won't be well received by many of Simon's  readers.
These products are still very new, so whether they will appeal to smokers is unknown. E-cigarettes are already very popular and a much safer alternative to smoking, but they still only appeal to a minority of Britain's 8.8 million smokers. What if these heated tobacco products persuade more committed smokers to give up the cigarettes? That would be for the market to decide, but it would be very good for public health
Director of Action on Smoking and Health 1997-2003
London SW12. 
Now, I'm happy to follow these unwritten rules but it would be interesting to know when it is acceptable to quote Bates approvingly, and when it's not.

Or maybe canonisation of Bates by Forest-funded organisations is OK, just not from blogs like mine which are written entirely in my spare time on a voluntary basis, I dunno. Not trying to cause a row here, I'm just genuinely confused.

I rather think that there might be some tobacco companies who will be just as confused too, seeing as some are toying with the idea of heat not burn technology, while others are shunning it entirely and focussing on e-cigarettes.

So, is Bates to be blackballed and never to be spoken of in polite pro-choice circles when attacking 'public health' over e-cigarettes, but fine to be applauded for advocating smokers switch to harm reduced products as long as they still contain tobacco?

I think we need to know.

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