Sunday, 12 April 2020

We're All In This Together ... Except For Some

This week, the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, asked for further help from industry to develop testing for the Coronavirus outbreak. He namechecked a few Titans of industry in his daily briefing which had already downed their usual tools and decided that their talents, and financial clout, could be useful to society in saving lives.

The week before, Hancock had acknowledged the already admirable efforts that the private sector had put in to redirect their ample resources towards tackling the virus, saying:
Many companies are already working urgently to assist us in this and I'm delighted that so many more are looking to step up to this challenge.
It's all hands to the pump and we are all together on this, aren't we? It is so refreshing to see; everyone pulling together in a common cause against a common enemy.

Well, not quite everyone, unfortunately.

On the same day that Hancock said he was "delighted" at the efforts being made, there was one subset of our society which was still excluding themselves from this campaign of working together. You see, British American Tobacco (BAT) had issued a press release - on the very same day - announcing that they were working hard on producing a vaccine. You can read it here.

You would think, wouldn't you, that those in tobacco control would meet to discuss this and decide that now isn't the time to broadcast their childish and insular prejudices to the world. But, I dunno, maybe because communication lines are difficult working for home (I'm being generous) that didn't happen.

Instead, there was a wail of collective outrage from the tobacco control industry, the most vomit-inducing from Wanda de Kanter, a particularly nasty anti-smoking lunatic from The Netherlands.

Yep, in a global emergency, companies she doesn't like should be told to "stop" using their huge resources in an effort to save lives. This, from someone who would call herself part of 'public health'. Note she is not saying that she, particularly, would refuse anything provided by the 'wrong' company if she was on death's door - which is her choice - but that other people who are dying should be prevented from accessing the equipment and that work on a vaccine should cease because she says so.

Considering over 100,000 human beings have died so far, this evil attitude truly beggars belief!

The reference to ventilators is a reaction to a different story broken by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism - an organisation which claims to be the pinnacle of truth in reporting, but currently writes articles to order funded by Michael Bloomberg's puppet, Vital Strategies - about 50 ventilators donated by Philip Morris in Greece.

No-one would have known this story if it wasn't highlighted by the grubby guns for hire of the journalism trade but, sadly, someone far less of a lunatic - and who should know better - chose to chivvy them along by offering this disappointing comment.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, criticised PMI’s motives. “This is a shameful publicity stunt by Philip Morris International, which owns Papastratos and has a 40% share of the Greek tobacco market,” she said. 
“Smoking makes people more vulnerable to coronavirus, and if they get it makes the symptoms worse, meaning they’re more likely to need ventilators. Papastratos makes €1.3bn a year ... In comparison, the donation of 50 ventilators is a drop in the ocean.”
The fact that Papastratos - an affiliate of Philip Morris - had not courted any publicity whatsoever until the Bureau of Incompetent Journalism blundered in, seems lost on some, obviously.

As if that is not bad enough on its own, shall we test this assertion that "smoking makes people more vulnerable to coronavirus"?

Because, you see, it's not true.

Smokers are conspicuously under-represented amongst cases in both China and the USA. An evidence review published three weeks ago found no association between smoking and the severity of COVID-19. Yet every tobacco control organisation - including Public Health England - in the UK has been spewing this fake news from their social media channels for a couple of weeks now.

So, one could argue that the only people using this virus as a publicity stunt are tobacco controllers themselves. Pretty shameful, huh?

In fact, it's worse than that. While we are all working together to defeat the virus, the tobacco control machine is actively trying to nobble any efforts to join with the noble cause as Hancock has been suggesting.

Another Bloomberg-funded sock puppet made a desperate plea a few days ago for governments to refuse help from not only tobacco companies but vaping ones too. Repeating the lies about smoking and vaping leading to increased risks from the virus, they urged governments to "encourage citizens to quit outright and to hold the tobacco industry accountable for the harm caused by its products, including harm related to COVID-19".

Now, I've always had quite a distaste for extremists in tobacco control. They are devoid of empathy, they pervert scientific principles, treat ethics as if they were an inconvenience and are incredibly venal and selfish.

But, I honestly never believed they could be so monumentally crass as to put their own funding and personal dislikes over and above the greater cause of helping as many people to live as possible.

Maybe I'm being unfair and - just as happened when the WHO installed the butcher of Zimbabwe as a goodwill ambassador, remember that? - there are many others in the tobacco control industry who are disgusted by such a cold, heartless and inhumane reaction to companies trying to help lessen the number of people dying during this real public health emergency, but if so they are extremely quiet about it.

If, at some point, BAT did create a vaccine for the virus, I do hope the massed ranks of selfish and blinkered tobacco controllers who find the manufacturer distasteful will refuse to take it. They would be astonishing hypocrites otherwise, and by declining they would leave more supplies for those in the public who value life above stupid and childish ideology.

You may have read often on these pages that I don't believe certain sections of pretend 'public health' actually care about health at all. Well, I think this is case closed, don't you? 

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