Tuesday 5 April 2011

Health Be Damned!

Unfortunately, I have more on my plate than Desperate Dan at present. One of the downsides of being in business is, of course, the financial year end, and you can probably see we're at that point of the year by the massive recent increase in bloody council roadwork activity. Add to this the fact that two potentially large suppliers have chosen this period to issue very lucrative invitations to tender, and that's the daylight hours gone. I'm also signed up for another few weeks of Tuesday evening sports club volunteering, so I've only just enough time to share a rather jolly spot e-mailed by a reader of this blog's tabloid scrawl.

These links are a few years old, but bear with me. You see, there's this guy called Clive Bates, and he's extremely critical of the stance currently taken by the public health industry against smokeless tobacco.

Take this article from June 2006, for example (emphases mine).

What is absolutely amazing though is that there are forms of tobacco use about 10- 100+ times less hazardous than smoking (ie. chewing, sucking - anything non-combustible) - it's the smoke that really kills. Widespread use of these is why, for example, Sweden has the lowest rates of cancer and heart disease in the world. If the world tobacco market shifted to selling more of this and less cigarettes, millions of premature deaths could be avoided over the 21st Century. But true to form, the well paid and comfortably smug public health community refuses to accept this concept and adopts a counter-productive prohibitionist stance - hoping naively that if people have a choice between quitting and dying, they'll choose to quit. Inconveniently, tobacco is highly addictive, so many wont or can't choose to quit and will die. So instead of telling the truth about low risk options, there is a conspiracy to lie and mislead (for example, the US Surgeon General told a barefaced lie about it to Congress). In Europe, we even have a directive (2001/37/EC see article 8 and 2.4) that bans the much lower risk products than cigarettes. If there is a reason to be a Euro-sceptic, then this is one of the strongest - deliberate denial of access to products that are much lower risk to people that are addicted to nicotine.
Pretty strong stuff, I think you'll agree, and exactly the harm reduction drum that is still regularly banged over at Snowdon's place. Especially since the EU is now planning to go further by banning all smokeless tobacco, not just snus - already banned everywhere in the EU except Sweden - which is the product referred to above.

He had more to say on the subject in September 2007.

If you want to say something absolutely jaw-dropping in its idiocy, then you need to cloak it in lots of fake sophistication. And this is what ASH Scotland has done with its new position paper on smokeless tobacco.

No less than 266 references are used to support the truly stupid idea that smokeless tobacco, which can substitute for cigarettes and is far less hazardous, should be banned.

If you put that idea to any normal person they look at you as if you've lost your mind. Only in the insular world of 'tobacco control' do these ideas survive for longer than it takes to express them.
And expanded in the comments.

People like the fools at ASH Scotland and much of the tobacco control Taliban talk as if there is no evidence that smokeless tobacco is a harm reduction effect. Rubbish. Not only are there many studies on this now, but they somehow ignore dramatic proof of concept in Sweden where the smoking rate is the world's lowest and tobacco related disease is the world's lowest.
So just who is this Bates character? Well, if you haven't clocked it already, here's a clue.

Yes, that's right. It's the Clive Bates, former supremo of ASH.

Isn't it interesting how the anti-smoker view differs between those who have crawled out of the pharmaceutical pocket, and those who haven't?


Anonymous said...

Dave Atherton

Jaw drops.

timbone said...

Is this the Clive Bates who said in about 1998 that smoking would never be banned in pubs?

Anonymous said...

Letter to The Publican re. protecting employees from passive smoking
7th June 1999

Dear Editor

Re: smoking in pubs

It is true that the Health and Safety Executive is developing a new Approved Code of Practice to deal with passive smoking in the workplace (Pubs face new smoking bans, Code is a blow, 7th June 1999). All the ACOP will do is provide meaningful guidance on how the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) should be applied to tobacco smoke in the workplace. This law already exists and has no exemptions for the hospitality industry. The ACOP will clarify the law and help publicans comply with it.

A new ACOP would not mean that all smoking must be banned in pubs. The heart of the law is that employers have an obligation to do what is reasonably practicable to reduce their employees' exposure. That could include segregation,ventilation, banning smoking at the bar or other measures. It also means the 'do nothing and ignore it' approach is not an option. The best approach for any pub is to wholeheartedly embrace the Charter agreed by the Government and trade bodies such as ALMR and BII and to do what is reasonable and practical to protect their employees. That is good professional business, and it should not be a cause for alarm, despair or resistence.

Yours sincerely,
Clive Bates

Mick Turatian said...

Inconveniently, tobacco is highly addictive...

This is the myth around which smokers and their opponents seem to coalesce.

Smoking is certainly habit-forming and I occasionally still find myself patting my jacket pocket when leaving the house to check for the reassuring outline of the packet. This two years after quitting after nigh on four decades of smoking.

The idea that smoking is an addiction, a chemical dependency, a disease voluntarily contracted and hence a social aberration places it in an unfortunate category of behaviour where reasonable levels of consideration by the smoker and tolerance by the non-smoker are sadly no longer adequate for the two to rub along together in relative harmony.

Anonymous said...

I've been aware of Bates' stance for several years, after seeing an article about snus in the bmj. As for Sweden: the usual argument is that snus increases the incidence of pancreatic and oral cancers. Probably not true; look at the CRUK European cancer incidences; and recent studies generally agree. Sweden is low for these cancers. Anyway, any small increases are dwarfed by the lowest incidence of male lung cancer in the developed world.
Several years ago I wrote a letter to the Times about this. The next day a letter from Ian Gilmore appeared, stating that snus caused pancreatic cancer. Needless to say, my letter was not published.
Jonathan Bagley

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