Sunday 14 January 2018

Public Health Minister Endorses Government Lobbying Government

As mentioned by Simon Clark yesterday, ASH spent this past week trying to whip up a frenzy about the 'NHS Pledge' that is seems to have organised as part of its role with the Smokefree Action Coalition.

You can see a copy of the 'pledge' here, it is basically yet more bullying of smokers and is based on the usual tobacco control industry truth-bending nonsense. However, the briefing note that accompanies it contains a direct call for help from the NHS to lobby the government in favour of policies advocated by state-funded organisations like ASH.
There is further action that is also needed to regulate the tobacco supply chain to ensure children cannot purchase tobacco and to further control the illicit market. Currently no licence is needed for the sale of tobacco. NHS organisations can support calls for full licencing of the tobacco supply chain from manufacturers to retailers to help further drive down smoking prevalence. 
NHS organisations can also support calls for the tobacco industry to pay to address the harm they cause. Tobacco companies collectively make an estimated £1 billion in profit in the UK alone while playing a major burden on the NHS and other public services. In the US companies are forced to pay a fee based on the number of cigarettes they sell which is used to fund tobacco control work. The same policy introduced in the UK could provide sustainable route to fund efforts to end the smoking epidemic.
In fact, the citation for the first paragraph is a report written by ASH.

This 'pledge' been signed off by the public health minister, Steve Brine, the very same person who is ultimately in charge of signing off the government's annual grant to ASH.

It is a condition of the grant that fake charity ASH receives every year that they are not allowed to lobby politically, yet here they are organising a 'pledge' of which one of the items in the briefing notes states that NHS trusts signing it will "support Government action at national level".  That's all well and good but those paragraphs above talk about licensing of tobacco sellers and applying a levy on the tobacco industry, neither of which is current government policy. So this is blatant political lobbying, and ASH are co-ordinating NHS organisations to promise to pester the government for more restrictions from government; more stigmatisation of smokers; and more funding for anti-smoking NGOs like ASH.

This is effectively Brine shovelling money to ASH in order to produce reports asking for more regulations and more money to be shovelled to, you guessed it, ASH and their equally tedious and obnoxious chums. Now, I don't know about you, but it doesn't seem right for NHS organisations - another arm of the government considering they are funded and run by centrally-granted money - to be lobbying, or to be encouraged to lobby, for ASH's demands by ASH and a government minister.

The 'NHS pledge is just yet another example of government lobbying government by ASH. Instead of signing this off, Brine should be telling ASH they are in breach of the terms of their grant and removing it from them.

Remember when a former Conservative minister condemned "government lobbying government"? It seems a world away now a fellow Conservative minister is lending the full weight of his endorsement to it and tweeted how "delighted" he was to do so. 

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