Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Pretend Harm Reductionists

Having been busy, I only yesterday read an excellent article published by Carl Phillips on Friday. This section in particular is very well drawn on the subject of harm reduction (emphases mine).
But notice that the IHRA/HRI definition — and that of anyone else who really believes in harm reduction — refers to also reducing the “economic” (read: financial) and social costs of drug use. In the case of tobacco use, as with many drugs, the great majority of the financial and social costs come not from the drug use itself, but from government actions. Smoking is expensive because of taxes and restrictions on the free flow of goods. More social harms from smoking are caused by government restrictions than by the act itself. Unlike with illicit drugs, few people are imprisoned or executed over tobacco (though not none), but unavoidable punitive taxes are not necessarily less harmful than rolling the dice on a small chance of getting arrested. 
And yet, many people who fancy themselves supporters of tobacco harm reduction actively support most of those caused harms. They actively support punitive taxes on cigarettes, social opprobrium heaped on smokers, prohibitions against publicans being able to offer smoking sections, etc. Indeed, those individuals often celebrate or advocate for the caused harms because they create further incentives for the only aspect of harm reduction they actually support, switching products. It reminds me of the Orwellian themes of about half the anti-smoking propaganda I see these days: “Quit because it is so expensive and forces you to take breaks from hanging with your friends!” Um, yeah, and whose fault is that? It is the same as those messages of “if you smoke weed, you might lose your student financial aid and future employment prospects, so don’t go saying it is not bad for you!” Needless to say, you will never hear a peep of condemnation of this hypocritical “concern” for users’ well-being from the faux supporters of harm reduction. 
The bottom line is simple: Anyone who supports punishing smokers does not actually believe in tobacco harm reduction. None of those “but for the greater good we need to…” protests changes this. Causing harm is not harm reduction.

This is what happens when you have a colossal state-funded machine which views life solely through the lens of health. Other pleasures and benefits in consuming the products in question are completely ignored, therefore the prohibitionists simply cannot comprehend the huge social and financial damage their rancid policies are causing ... as I have mentioned before occasionally.

... along with others.

But I'd go further than that. You see, tobacco controllers are also often very happy to land body blows on even the one part of harm reduction - switching to low risk products - that they claim to support, as long as it means increasing the harm they wish to inflict on smokers. Pointlessly bullying smokers is considered far more important than supporting products which deliver reduced harm.

The full tobacco control fake charity set is complete when you remember that ASH Wales also "fully welcome" bans on vaping in outdoor, windswept settings for the purposes of denormalisation. No, these are not my words, they are theirs.

And, as far as we know, ASH Wales's logo still proudly and shamelessly sits on a "No Vaping" sign on a beach in Pembrokeshire.

Nothing is too extreme for these people. They will happily throw vaping to the wolves as long as their drive to impose harm on smokers by any means necessary is protected.

No-one, but no-one, in any of the three UK ASH branches can ever claim they are supportive of harm reduction while these vile priorities still prevail. They should be reviled every time they try to pretend that harm reduction is in their future plans. They may believe they are supportive, but - as Phillips rightly says - they betray themselves and reveal the truth every time they stigmatise and inflict harm on smokers with financial punishment, prohibitions and ostracism.

Other tobacco controllers are even worse! Not only are they happy to turn a blind eye to the junk science which is behind the harm visited on smokers, but certain Scottish/Canadian tobacco controllers, for example, also want to extend that harm onto the lives of those who enjoy a drink and those who choose to eat food they disapprove of. And they are far from alone!

As Phillips explains very well, none of these people can ever claim to even understand the concept of harm reduction, let alone say they are supportive of it or are advocates. All the while their only approach is to punish the public for making free choices which 'public health' believe to be wrong they are anything but.

Puritans, yes; prodnoses, yes; prohibitionists, yes; hypocrites, yes; ghastly bullies, yes; repulsive anti-social arseholes, yes; but supportive of harm reduction? Absolutely fucking not!


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