Saturday, 2 October 2010

Signs of the times: Tobacco manufacturers excluded from conference about illicit tobacco

Signs that tobacco control is out of control include the following:
  • ASH Scotland hosts a 'unique illicit tobacco summit' (Perth, 21 September);
  • It bars tobacco manufacturers from making any presentations, and even from attending as delegates;
  • It issues a press release (and a blog post from Sheila Duffy) without even mentioning the exclusion of tobacco companies;
  • No one protests, except the tobacco companies.
The irony is compounded by ASH Scotland's support for measures guaranteed to give illicit tobacco suppliers another slice of the tobacco market every time they propose raising taxes on tobacco, and with their support for the tobacco display ban legislation. It's not as if ASH Scotland supported the consumption of genuine tobacco: at the end of her blog piece Sheila declares that tobacco kills whether duty-paid or not. It is very unclear what she is doing fighting illicit tobacco, except trying to keep the tobacco companies out of tobacco policy.

I'm not suggesting that there should be no tobacco polices or tobacco control, but excluding tobacco companies from control of policy discussions about illicit tobacco will lead to badly informed outcomes. By all means health officials can be involved too. One policy interest should balance the other. The point is that the health department and its appendage ASH Scotland shouldn't dictate  the terms of involvement in national policy-making by excluding the industry whose product is at the heart of the discussion.

How disappointing that none of the other participants at the Perth Conference didn't see fit to protest at tobacco manufacturers being barred from even attending the conference: or weren't they told?

1 comment:

Eddie Douthwaite said...

Just like the three monkeys.