Wednesday 26 July 2017

Pharma Company Values Profits Over Health

It's been a very busy couple of weeks in Puddlecoteville, so like yesterday this is another I've had in my drafts just waiting for a time to write.

You see, I've long believed that e-cigs carry the potential to expose the lies and hypocrisy of tobacco control, but the extent to which they are doing so has exceeded even my wildest hopes. Those vacuously opposed to vaping are screaming like stuck pigs at the moment as they see their mendacious house of cards about to come crashing down, and seem to be happy to throw their integrity down the drain.

But this complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority is a delightful surprise.
1. Johnson & Johnson Ltd, who understood that only factual content was permitted on marketers’ own websites for unlicensed nicotine containing e-cigarettes and their components, challenged whether the claim "small and mighty" was a promotional claim, and therefore in breach of the Code. 
The ASA challenged whether the following content was also promotional, and therefore in breach of the Code: 
2. the video for the Vype Pebble starter kit; 
3. the claim "VYPE PURPLE ePEN STARTER KIT +1 PACK OF PREMIUM CARTRIDGES For £19.98*. *Ends Tuesday 28th March"; and 
4. the claim "Buy 5 Get 1 Free".
This is quite remarkable. Those with long memories will know that J&J have funded anti-smoking campaigns for many years now, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. But, it would seem, this supposed health-focussed company is now doing all in its power to derail what mounting evidence shows is a safer alternative to smoking.

It is nothing but a naked nobbling of the opposition to protect Big Pharma Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT, useless patches and gums handed out at exorbitant cost to the NHS) profits from the huge threat of competing vaping products which the public buys voluntarily.

It is often said by tobacco controllers that tobacco manufacturers should be ignored by legislators because they value profits over health. Here is an example from the WHO.
"effective tobacco control and the commercial success of the tobacco industry are fundamentally incompatible"
Yet, when they move into the WHO's stated goal of harm reduction (article 1(d) of the FCTC),  here we see a large pharmaceutical player blatantly trying to silence a competitor in order to protect their own profits and hang the consequences. And doing so on a technicality in a regulation that their industry lobbied furiously to install.

During the shameful TPD process, tobacco controllers made great play about lobbying by tobacco companies, but they will know very well that MEPs were swarmed by exponentially more pharmaceutical lobbyists desperate to protect their failing products from a new innovative technology. There is little care about health from pharma in this charade, only profits, yet the tobacco control industry is happy to take funding and sponsorship from them.

And here we have J&J (marketers of Nicorette) openly playing games with health and - quite revealing - having to do so in their own name because they are perhaps running out of pliant front groups and other useful idiots to keep their influence in the background.

There are a lot of very scared entrenched people around at the moment, desperately trying to cling onto their fast-disappearing power, so keep up the pressure. They're buckling.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention (if you were of the opinion that J&J's complaint was actually well-meaning instead of appallingly cynical) that these ads were all over the London Underground three years ago. It must really boil their bones that e-cigs are not only still around, but thriving despite their best efforts.

We wait with baited breath for the tobacco control industry's condemnation of J&J prioritising their profits over the harm reduction potential they are trying to kill. 

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