Tuesday 6 September 2016

A 44 Year Monopoly

Via this blog's esteemed mascot, it has been revealed that ASH has yet again been thrown a wad of our taxes with which to bully smokers and generally be a right royal anti-social and destructive pain in the arse.

The figure this year - a regular annual occurrence since ASH's inception in 1972 - is £160,000.

You can view the award letter below.

As usual there are a couple of laughable clauses in the document, most notably ... (emphases mine)
This award has been made under the provisions of Section 64 and may not be used for lobbying or to fund original research and consultancy services must not be offered under this grant. ASH has confirmed that the grant will only ever be used for tobacco control delivery and not for any activity that could be considered as lobbying, nor will it be used to fund research or provide consultancy services.
This is political sophistry of the first water! An organisation like ASH does very little else but lobby, it is exactly what officials and staff at the Department of Health set it up to do in the early 1970s.

This was most evident recently with the monumental lobbying effort Deborah Arnott and her fellow tax-spongers put in to convince politicians to bring in the pointless tobacco control gravy train-perpetuating plain packaging policy. They were in and out of Westminster tapping up MPs so often that they would have felt less exhausted if they'd pitched tents and sleeping bags in committee rooms instead of commuting!

It will also come as a hell of a surprise to vapers that ASH don't involve themselves in lobbying considering the extraordinary and sustained lobbying campaign they have directed towards first trying to get e-cigs banned, and then ensuring Article 20 of the TPD was rammed through in the face of perfectly logical and entirely reasonable objections.

Quite simply, if ASH didn't lobby, there would be no need for them to exist.

You might also be amused to read this condition of the award.
[T]he Department [of Health] has no commitment to renew financial support after the term of the grant;
Well, erm, considering this is the 44th year in a row that ASH has received free cash from taxpayers - without any kind of competitive tendering process as is supposedly required for all government-awarded contracts - we can take that one with a pinch of salt, can't we?

You may have noticed a familiar name signing off the award letter too, that of Jeremy Mean, the former head of pharma-funded MHRA who so nearly succeeded in strangling vaping at birth. Perhaps, then, this part of ASH's grant application appealed strongly to him and his former associates.
"Identify and communicate opportunities for local enforcement to support the effective implementation of the TPD including Article 20 on electronic cigarettes."
Yep, if you thought common sense and a new direction from PHE & RCP towards harm reduction might lead to a blind eye being turned towards the daft TPD regulations, think again. ASH is there to make damn sure any transgressions are properly punished, and promised to do exactly so when they were holding out the begging bowl.

Additionally, since Mean is now Deputy Director of Tobacco Control at the DoH, he could feasibly form part of the UK's delegation to the similarly pharma-funded WHO's COP7 jamboree in Delhi in November. You know, the organisation which currently wants to see e-cigs banned worldwide. Nothing like being given another bite of the cherry, now is there Jeremy?

There really is no other racket quite as blatant as the 'public health' racket.

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