I haven't written much about our esteemed mascot here recently, but he posed an interesting parliamentary question on Tuesday.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will undertake an independent review of the cumulative effect of tobacco control measures introduced by his Department in the last decade before moving forward with a fresh smoking strategy.Well, it would be a good idea wouldn't it? To assess how successful - if at all - graphic health warnings, the vending machines ban, tobacco display ban and plain packaging have been before embarking on more splashes of taxpayer cash on funding even more self-enriching makework for the likes of ASH and their fellow hideous tobacco control industry tycoons.
Nicola Blackwood replied for the government (emphasis mine):
The Department assesses the impact of all proposed measures before laying legislation using standard government methodology. These assessments are set out in Impact Assessments which are scrutinised by the Regulatory Policy Committee before publication alongside the Statutory Instrument. A number of the tobacco measures contain commitments to further review the impact of the legislation within five years of them coming into force.So, Davies asked if there was a plan to study if those policies had been successful after implementation, and Blackwood's reply is that they don't need to because an impact assessment was done before the law was passed.
It's also interesting that Blackwood proudly states that Impact Assessments are scrutinised by the Regulatory Policy Committee, because last I heard the RPC were not at all happy with the IA for plain packaging.
And as for the five year reviews, well we know how 'independent' they are don't we. Because, y'see, Davies did specifically ask about "an independent review" and not fantasy garbage thrown together by the same tobacco control industry grant-gobblers who lobbied for the policy in the first place.
Blackwood continues ...
The 2013 report An Audit of the impact of the Department of Health’s Regulations upon business concluded that there is a robust cost-benefit case for the tobacco control regulations considered and experience shows that initiatives to reduce smoking prevalence work best in combination, with cumulative effects over time.In other words, they haven't actually got a clue if any of those policies were responsible for the decline in smoking. They just did stuff and other stuff happened or, as the report itself put it.
[B]ecause tobacco control measures are mutually reinforcing, it is difficult, retrospectively, to disentangle the impact of single initiatives, particularly when they have been implemented as part of comprehensive strategies, the effects of which have built up over the years.So, government don't really have a Scooby. They have observed a correlation between smoker bullying and declines in prevalence and just assume it must be solely down to their inspired policy-making.
It could be equally argued - in fact, I think there is a far bigger case to make - that the explosion in e-cig use has driven the decline in smoking. But why would government and those who profit from lobbying the government with government cash (taken from us, natch) want to admit that?
That way lies the gravy train graveyard.