Sunday, 16 January 2011

Professor in Public Health claims Dutch government swayed by tobacco lobby

Thousands of licensees united to campaign against the smoking ban in the Netherlands, which was never fully enforced before recently being scrapped for bars without employees. The change to the law was made by the incoming Coalition government in the Netherlands, and endowed Professor Marc Willemsen blames the tobacco interests of the Defence Minister for the policy change. Over twelve hundred publicans voice their opposition to the ban in campaigns, and yet the tobacco industry's influence on a single cabinet minister over-rides all other considerations.

To Professor Willemsen, Minister Hillen's presence on the Cabinet as a lobbyist tobacco undermines Dutch compliance with Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. This is meant to protect health policy from tobacco industry influence. Or, perhaps, to ensure that anybody with any (alleged) interest in tobacco, however peripheral, is excluded from discussions of tobacco policy. The fact is that no lobbying interest should dictate government policy, and while it might not be unreasonable to have laws or guidelines on lobbying, excluding interests from lobbying at all is not reasonable or rational.

Professor Willemsen alleges that 'the tobacco industry has strategic connections in government circles', although it isn't clear that he has evidence of financial interests in tobacco for anyone other than Hillen. No other minister is specified in his blog post. It's arguable whether Mr Hillen's presence on the Cabinet made any difference to the outcome of the Dutch licensees' rebellion. No one asks which Cabinet ministers get freebees from Big Tobacco's rivals in the nicotine market: Big Pharma, or whether such influence is improper.

Professor Willemsen's solution? He 'argues for confrontational campaigns which clearly show the damage smoking causes to the body. He also favours higher duties on tobacco and a less prominent location for tobacco products in supermarkets'. None of which has much relevance to smoking ban policies. As for tobacco in shops, its position behind the counter means that it is out of the reach of pilferers and easily accessible to shop staff. Nothing could be more sensible.

More on the Dutch story here.

Professor Willemsen's recipe for success


Dick Puddlecote said...

Comments not allowed. What a surprise!

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear and all that. ;)

Anonymous said...

Willemsen is eminently qualified to comment as his degree in psychology clearly gives him greater insight than the rest of us into conspiracy theories and how they can be used to make a case even in the face of hard evidence to the contrary. I am sure that this paid anti-tobacco scrounger will surface again as his industry needs unprincipled lying scum like him in order to survive.

Michael J. McFadden said...

Willemsen is stating nonsense and I'm sure he knows that. The Dutch government backed down from its full ban in the face of the pub campaign organized by Wiel Maessen. The presence of a single member of the Cabinet who might arguably have some tobacco connections is probably far less relevant than the numbers of Cabinet members who've had financial and/or lobbying connections with ASH and the big pharmaceuticals pushing their NicoGummyPatchyProducts.

Excellent blog articles F2C! Keep at 'em until we get the Scottish government to join in with the Dutch!

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

Eddie Douthwaite said...

The time is right for the "Framework Convention on Tobacco Control" to be given it's rightful place in history:


Anonymous said...

Amazing how Willemsen interprets the softening of the bans as if true public opinion did not come into it at all.
They do not acknowledge public opinion unless they rig it themselves.
They show their true colours when they feel their only defence is to smear.
Publis opinion is not on their side and they know it.