Wednesday 20 April 2016

The Fix Is In For E-Cigs In Oz

I've consistently said that e-cigs show up tobacco control industry corruption brilliantly, and here is another fine example.

If you've ever doubted that fact, just get a load of this from Australia!
Last year the federal health department, on behalf of the Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs – senior bureaucrats advising federal, state and territory ministers on drug issues – commissioned a policy review on the regulation, sale and marketing of e-cigarettes with or without nicotine, and the practice of “vaping”. 
The department determined the tender brief, called for tenders and recommended (that is, chose), the successful tenderer.  It happened to be a consortium of the School of Public Health of the University of Sydney and the New South Wales Cancer Council. 
For nearly a year after the tender was finalised, with no fanfare, the review went underground. Lately, word’s gone quietly went round expert circles confirming consultations are happening.
That's great! We like consultations don't we boys and girls?

Except that we're not allowed to contribute, nor are the citizens of Australia!
The Prevention Research Collaboration at the University of Sydney has secured Australian government commissions to look into policy options to “minimise the risk associated with marketing and use of electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems”. They are running a closed consultation with “relevant organisations and technical experts in ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems), tobacco control or public health.” A background paper has been written. 
Note those words. Closed consultation. Minimise the risks of electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems. Relevant organisations and technical experts.  The unmistakable message is that vaping is in the dock, and the presumption is that e-cigs with or without nicotine are as risky to health as tobacco products.
And who exactly makes up this 'expert' committee which is accountable to no-one but themselves?

Why, committed anti-vaping lunatics, of course.
Unsurprisingly it mostly comprises public health academics believing in prohibiting and banning and “social marketing”, not kindly disposed to giving new alternatives to tobacco the benefit of the doubt while evidence continues to accumulate. 
Simon Chapman needs no introduction.  The goateed guru of tobacco control, media public health go-to person and spare-time Twitter troll is no friend of harm reduction, being stridently protective of his patch. He has picked fights with, and ridiculed, pro-vaping research, researchers and advocates from the Lancet and British Medical Journal to social media. 
Project lead Becky Freeman is his protégée and self-described “established authority on the potential of the internet to circumvent tobacco advertising laws”.  Blyth O’Hara is an expert on physical activity, nutrition and obesity, who has tweeted enthusiastically in favour of a sugar tax on the poor. 
Scott Walsberger “leads a passionate (NSW Cancer Council) team to reduce the burden of tobacco on the people of NSW”.  Bill Bellew boasts of his “Leadership…in capacity building for evidence-informed policy around the spectrum of public health issues…through tobacco control and other population health strategies”.  Adrian Bauman is a “world-leading” obesity expert with strong World Health Organisation connections. 
And James Kite is NSW president of the Australian Health Promotion Association which, in its submission to the Leyonhjelm Nanny State inquiry, said: “Based on current evidence, it appears as though E-cigarettes are harmful (though not as harmful as tobacco cigarettes), are attractive to younger people, and have more of a ‘gateway’ effect (introducing young people to tobacco smoking) than a quitting effect.”  His views seem pretty decided.
As a wise commenter points out under the piece, "If anyone has difficulty getting their head around the evil of big government, here is your case study".


Now, compare and contrast the UK's consultation on plain packs, which in 2013 didn't just accept contributions from the public (who were overwhelmingly opposed) but also from the Australian government, and even delayed the deadline to ensure their biased views were included!
Anne Milton, then Health Minister, said on July 5 that the Department of Health’s three-month consultation was to be extended until August 10 to “make sure everyone who wants to contribute can”.  
That same day an Australian official in the Department of Health and Ageing wrote to the Department of Health requesting a two-week extension to the July 10 deadline so that Australia’s Minister for Health could sign off the submission.  
“We are currently going through the clearance process for the submission at a time when several of our key ministers are absent on leave or work-related travel, during a break in the parliamentary sitting period,” correspondence released under the Freedom of Information Act reveals. “I am sure that our Health Minister, the Hon Tanya Plibersek, MP, would welcome the opportunity to personally sign off the submission, if at all possible. To achieve this, we will require an extension, due to her short absence.  
“Accordingly, would you or the relevant area responsible for the consultation, be willing to approve a two-week extension until Tuesday 24 July? Alternatively, can you suggest a timeframe that would be acceptable?”  
Later that day, an e-mail was sent by the Department of Health’s tobacco programme manager to the Australian Government, and others, explaining that the deadline had been extended.
Surely, then, the Australian exercise will return the favour and include evidence from UK organisations who have concluded that e-cigs are a pretty good idea like - ooh, I dunno - Public Health England?

Well maybe, but considering Simon Chapman is one of the world's biggest junk propagandists against vaping - and was exposed in FOIs to be fatally conflicted in properly evaluating the PHE report - what do you reckon will happen?

The fix is in the bag in Australia, isn't it? Tobacco controllers have taken hold of the levers and will no doubt produce a load of bullshit junk to ensure e-cigs are permanently demonised Down Under. Who needs the public and due process when you have vile public-hating prohibitionists like Chappers pulling the strings, eh?

This kind of grubby, fraudulent and corrupt modus operandi has been a staple of tobacco control activity for decades, of course. The advent of e-cigs, though, has shone a 1000 watt spotlight under the rocks where these odious parasites operate.

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