Wednesday 7 March 2018

A Terrified Industry

In September last year Derek Yach, former World Health Organization cabinet director and developer of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) - so basically a tobacco control hero - announced the formation of the Foundation for a Smoke-free World (FSFW). As I wrote at the time, the massed ranks of state and pharma-funded tobacco controllers were outraged at this because it is funded by a tobacco company which has stated that it will have absolutely no input into how the money is spent.

As such, the 'public health' community has expended every possible effort to demonise the FSFW and to intimidate and scare researchers into declining any involvement. Yach is a hero no more, now he is an enemy to be banned from even having an input.

However, in Cape Town today, the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) held a session to discuss the FSFW, and it seems pretty clear they are scared to death of it.

The discussion was very revealing. It wasn't about what the resultant research might look like, or if the research could lead to more people quitting smoking. No, it was solely about what effect it would have on the tobacco control cartel. Here are just a few of the objections, see if you can find a theme.

"It will renormalise industry"

This was something that the delegates felt very uncomfortable about. They have spent decades ensuring that no-one trusts 'Big Tobacco', but now this initiative means that some might see the tobacco industry trying to put its house in order and sell less harmful products. This, apparently, is not acceptable to tobacco control for some reason.

"We haven't got our bans in place yet, it's too early for harm reduction"

Too early for harm reduction? Isn't reducing harm welcome at any time by 'public health'? Well no, because they - in this case tobacco controllers from less well-developed nations - would prefer the policies they have lobbied for take precedence. They'd prefer to bully smokers than smokers be offered something which would render their efforts moot.

"We can't legitimise scientific research"

No, honestly, that's not a typo and I can prove it.

Robyn Koval of the Truth Initiative - described breathlessly as a 'visionary' by some on Twitter - was actually advocating ignoring science because it comes from the wrong people. It doesn't matter how good it might be, they don't even want to consider looking at it. I wonder why that could be? Well ...

"We need to do our own research which helps our side"

Well, well, well. So the tobacco control industry seems to think a lot of research might be coming out the FSFW and they suspect it might not say things that they like. Considering the FCTC and, indeed, the WCTOH conference today, like to downplay the role of THR in favour of legislative bans and restrictions, this might be inconvenient. So they don't want to do responsible, objective science, but instead this American delegate was demanding research which "helps our side". Our own Debs Arnott touched on this too.

"They should pay for tobacco control, we cannot let industry pick and choose what it funds"

Debs is very happy for her and her pals to take 'Big Tobacco' money - just as she is unperturbed about Pfizer being one of the sponsors of WCTOH - she just doesn't want cash being given to researchers in order to seek the truth about THR.  How very dare they? The only research allowed should be by those in her industry who've been peddling junk science - "which helps our own side" - about e-cigs and other harm reduction products for years now.

I feel quite smug for having predicted this back in September.
Rather than welcome a positive initiative from a tobacco industry which ASH and others have painted as irretrievably evil, they have chosen to slam it. This is the same bunch of people who have demanded that 'Big Tobacco' must pay a "polluter pays" levy, it has been a central plank of their demands to government for the past few years. But when just one company does so voluntarily, they jump to condemn it {whisper: could it be that this particular billion is not going to them like the plan they had in mind?}.
There was a brief flicker that THR might be useful, but it was quickly scotched for the most trivial reason.

"THR has a place but industry is making profits from these products"

The horror! So do we take from this that less harmful products are only useful if no-one earns from it? Those with long memories will remember that this is exactly the same reason the TPD's rapporteur Linda McAvan, gave for opposing e-cigs that the likes of Arnott now claim to support.

Then there was the bizarre denial ...

"PMI's data shows iQos doesn't reduce harm"

This was from the irrepressible Glantz. Despite an FDA committee admitting that heat not burn exposed consumers to hugely reduced toxins, and the UK Committee on Toxicity quantifying reduced exposure as between 50% to 90%, the mad mechanic refuses to believe it. And anyway, what does this have to do with the FSFW research? Smacks of desperate obfuscation huh? But the best of all is this.

"The priority of tobacco control is the FCTC, that is harm reduction"

Yep, an organisation which has tried its damnedest to ban e-cigs and advises nations to either ban or strictly regulate them is, somehow, a form of harm reduction.

Now, I did challenge you to find a theme here, did you spot it? Yes! Every one of those convoluted excuses for objecting to research from FSFW had more to do with protecting the tobacco control industry from a loss to their own reputation and funding than any genuine desire to see smokers switching to less risky products.

After decades of producing rotten junk science to order, these parasites are absolutely terrified that someone might be doing proper, dispassionate, scientific research. They bang on about vested interests, but it's clear that whatever comes out of FSFW funding will be the most scrutinised epidemiology the world has ever seen. An entire global prohibitionist industry will be falling over themselves to find fault with it, unlike their own research for which peer review means someone looked at it and checked the authors' names were spelt correctly.

Tobacco control is in panic about what FSFW could reveal. We here know very well that they have lied about tobacco for decades, but the public doesn't. However, their continued insistence on playing fast and loose with the truth on e-cigs and snus could bite them very hard if someone else does science that is actually truthful. They are scared that this would "renormalise" industry because it would show them up as being systematic liars if so. They don't want to "legitimise" what FSFW does - even if it is irrefutably honest - because it could de-legitimise tobacco control. They are jealous that the financial backing they condemn FSFW for taking hasn't been handed to them to fund their lavish salaries and junkets instead (like, I dunno, a shindig in Cape Town paid for by taxpayers) . And they don't like harm reduction anyway because they pay no heed to it and would prefer to use bully boy tactics, so will pretend that THR is a conference which ignores benefits of THR and actively conspires to destroy it.

It goes to prove, yet again, that tobacco control has no care about health at all. To them, it's just a game and a means of feathering their cosy nest with cash. A tobacco company could devote its entire profit to THR and delegates at WCTOH would still criticise. In fact they would criticise more because not only would it destroy their dated ad hom - that they never cease to lazily apply - about industry being untrustworthy, but it would also show that the tobacco control industry would arguably have no further need to exist.

And if all that came to pass, the only people they could blame would be themselves. The only reason FSFW would have need to exist is because the tobacco control industry has been deeply dishonest for far too long. They've peddled fraudulent junk science on important matters so blatantly that they've ceased to be relevant. If they are upset that FSFW has become a threat to their livelihoods, they should scream not at FSFW but at their bathroom mirror.

That's why there were some terrified people in Cape Town today. Because it's never been about health and they are worried their comfortable scam could be in danger of falling apart. 

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