Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Imperial Tobacco attacks Welsh tobacco control policy

This has been reported on at least three blogs already but top prize to The Big Yin for calling his piece Welsh Rarebit. For rare it has been over the last few years to see tobacco companies leading from the front.

Yet here it is: Imperial's reply to the Welsh tobacco control consultation. Forest dubs it winner of its Plain English Award, and not without reason: it is clearly set out and structured:
  • Good  –there is a tobacco control policy aimed at reducing youth smoking
  • Bad – it has been incompetently conceived and designed
  • Ugly – Welsh tobacco policy relies disproportionately on ASH Wales, raising the question whether improper pressure is being applied by 'the anti-smoking lobbying industry'.
Imperial Tobacco demands transparency in tobacco control, not only regarding the interests and involvement of tobacco companies but of all bodies involved, mentioning specifically ASH Wales and the pharmaceutical industry. The document consistently commends the aim of reducing youth smoking, but maintains that the strategy is wrong. It is wrong in describing smoking as a cause of health inequalities, and rebukes the tobacco control policy for simplistically trying to force a change in behaviour rather than trying to understand the reasons for such behaviour.

It is also wrong because it attacks the legal market in tobacco:
In many communities, where smoking rates are well above the national average, a high proportion of smokers will be sourcing their tobacco from illicit sources and criminal gangs ... Attempts to limit the availability of tobacco from legitimate sources will be undermined by an increase in the supply from organised criminal gangs who will welcome the broadening of the market share.
Addressing also civil liberties, property rights and the self-defeating method of denormalisation as a means of persuading adults to give up smoking, this consultation response makes good reading.

As The Big Yin points out, Imperial Tobacco is not the first tobacco company to start openly opposing official policy. There is so much to be done, and I hope this kind of document will now surface frequently – my way of saying Up With This Sort Of Thing.


Xopher said...

It's not often that you're not first with the news but this response by Big Tobacco is beautiful.
Will it make any difference.... ?
On a level playing field --- of course BUT we're dealing with the institutionally deranged.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the praise and link Belinda.

Yes it is unusual for the tobacco companies fighting back in such plain, and scathing, language and not before time. It'll probably not turn a hair on the Welsh Tobacco Control's substantive and overblown head.