Thursday, 23 September 2010

ASH Scotland, illicit tobacco and an international forum against cancer

Sheila Duffy's main extravaganza of the week was an 'illicit tobacco summit' in Perth (Scotland), which brought together a range of players, including a representative from the Scottish Grocers' Federation, Trading Standards, the Police, Gerard Hastings and Mary Cuthbert from the Tobacco Control division in the Scottish Government.

If nothing else, it is odd to see such people join forces in a bid to overcome illicit tobacco traders: some wish to protect legitimate traders in tobacco, while others seem to be doing everything in their power to denormalise the position of tobacco in the marketplace. It may be little time before there is division in the ranks.

Sheila's latest blog post (here if you would like to comment) reminds us that 'illicit tobacco is not a victimless crime'  (quoting Detective Sargent Allan Orr). Just in case we feel like getting involved. It winds up by pointing out that border controls next year are expected to weaken because of funding schemes drying up. Then, just as we are thinking of buying some tobacco from the corner shop, she chimes in by reminding us that it kills us anyway, even if legit.

No doubt enforcement authorities do face a headache, but it might be of smaller scale if such a large share of the purchase price of tobacco weren't made up of tax. I've suggested diverting ASH Scotland funding towards border controls, as Sheila does paint such a colourful picture of gun-runners throwing tobacco and hard drugs into the mix in small Scottish communities. (Yes, I know those particular controls aren't a devolved issue.)

Sheila adds a blog to her blogroll, from the American Cancer Society. I've yet to look in detail but it seems overly concerned with tobacco control, and prioritising non-communicable diseases. Wouldn't more emphasis on treating communicable diseases save more lives? Of course they can promote their activity, that's natural, but their priorities don't seem to promote maximum societal welfare.

1 comment:

Eddie Douthwaite said...

Reduce Tobacco Tax and it will reduce the Illegal market.