Thursday 3 January 2019

A Short History Of Pharma-Bought Influence

If you have half an hour to spare, you could do worse than watch the two excellent films by YouTuber Grimm Green embedded below

Long-time readers here will remember the history of anti-smoking legislation and how it developed from an aspiration in the 1970s with the Godber Blueprint. Specifically:
The 3rd World Conference on Smoking and Health (“The Worldwide Campaign Against Smoking”) was held in New York from June 2 June 5, 1975. 
Sir George [Godber, raging anti-smoking UK CMO,] noted that the means by which smokers could be encouraged to quit, was to : “foster an atmosphere where it was perceived that active smokers would injure those around them, especially their family and any infants or young children who would be exposed involuntarily” to secondhand smoke. 
In other words, the perception of harm to others would have a far greater impact on convincing smokers to give up the habit than merely harping on the long term health risks to smokers themselves. It would also make it easier to convince the public that discrimination against smokers was justified, not just for their own good, but to protect the health of those around them.
This was a gift to pharmaceutical companies who were peddling their ineffective - but highly lucrative - nicotine patches and gums without too much success at the time. The long search for junk science to back this dream began after that conference and anti-smoking legislation has become exponentially more hysterical ever since, with pharma interests encouraging it every step of the way.
At every turn, the public is told that the evidence is leading the policy, but there is every reason to believe that the policies were set in stone many years ago and that these policies have been leading the evidence. It is clear from the documents that plans to deal with passive smoking, for example, were being drawn up long before there was any evidence of harm.
Scroll on to today and we see exactly the same misdirection and junk science being targeted at vaping products, and exactly the same big industry actors throwing billions at hungry 'public health' researchers to produce it.

In a well-referenced piece of investigation, Grimm Green takes you through the history of how Big Pharma bought the 'science' from those days and continues to do so today. Every time there is a threat, there they are, a massively-rich global industry paying huge sums to corrupt the public's understanding and buying off politicians to install legislation which favours their products.

Ask any MEP, for example, and they will tell you that pharma lobbyists swarmed the EU during formulation of the Tobacco Products Directive in 2012, yet anti-smoking orgs concentrated hard on complaining about those from the tobacco industry who were outnumbered about 20 to 1.

If you've ever wondered why the tobacco control industry seems completely unconcerned about conflicts of interest arising from pharmaceutical grants yet strangely will scream at any hint that a researcher has even had a cup of tea with someone working for a tobacco company, well it's because many of the most powerful players in the tobacco control industry are trousering huge sums from the former, as Green highlights. Hardly any surprise, then, that there was indecent haste by tobacco controllers in the early years of e-cigs to kill the insurgent technology off as swiftly as was possible, it was only a groundswell of activist vapers who headed it off. But the corporate struggle goes on to this day, with the US being the focal point for a rearguard action to try to demonise anything that threatens pharma sales as the burgeoning e-cig market is doing very well.

Don't believe me? Well, take a pew and watch both parts of this. A short history of how Big Pharma has paid for 'science', legislation and - ultimately - global public perception in the smoking and nicotine debate, none of which has anything to do with health, but lots to do with a manufactured market spat over nicotine driven by big stinking corporate profits.

Once again, as I have revelled in many times before, new nicotine products are revealing the corruption and cant that had previously gone unnoticed in the war against tobacco. A spotlight is increasingly being shone on the unrepentant cockroaches in the tobacco control scam like never before. Long may it continue.

With the direction of travel heading towards acceptance of safer nicotine alternatives for those who choose to quit, it's fair to question the true motivation of those last die-hard defenders of 'quit or die', don't you think?

H/T @Twigolet