Monday, 24 October 2011

Florence, the mosquito, and the tobacco industry smear

Ever since the First World Conference of TICAP (The International Coalition Against Prohibition) held in Brussels in 2009 I've wanted to know about Florence Berteletti Kemp – the woman whose complaints to the European Commissioner threatened to disrupt the Conference.

Any Dutch readers will appreciate that this video is really about Edith Schippers, the Health Minister of the Netherlands (or Minister for Tobacco, as her opponents would have it). My Dutch language skills enabled me to enjoy only Ms Berteletti's contribution, as it is in English.

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Berteletti starts at 20.30 mins into the video: 'Well, if you're dying of malaria you're hardly going to invite a mosquito to resolve the issue at the policy table.' Anti-smokers have a thing about mosquitos. Sheila Duffy doesn't see the point in fighting them because they don't have expense accounts and are naturally less serious a threat to human health than the tobacco industry.

Florence won't have them at the policy table. I suppose this is because she doesn't believe in engaging with her opponents. Mosquitos however are now acknowledged as the carriers of malaria. If they were any good at talking, perhaps deals could be done at the policy table that might eradicate the malaria problem.

The health problems associated with smoking are a different matter as they are all multi-factorial in nature. Saying on the one hand that tobacco kills x-billion more than road accidents and wars and is best only speculation – rendered more inaccurate by a refusal to engage with the tobacco industry. Nobody is suggesting the tobacco companies write health policy without the participation of public health interests, but excluding them entirely as a matter of policy is equally unwise.

Since I don't know Dutch I missed most of the video, getting only the mosquito and Florence Berteletti's disappointment with the Dutch government for its failure to espouse tobacco control policies (33.25). A Dutch tobacco industry representative is interviewed in the video, but I don't know to what extent he has influenced Schippers. The Dutch licensees' campaign to overturn the smoking ban was not, of course, funded by tobacco companies. The 'fearless anti-tobacco warrior' Stanton Glantz took the trouble to interview Wiel Maessen, campaign organiser (and director of TICAP) in order to understand how the legal challenge to the smoking bans came about. Maessen stated that he had paid a large part of the costs, including all the advertising costs, personally.

Berteletti, in common with the likes of Stanton Glantz, has a mission to associate the interests of smoking ban opponents with the tobacco companies. She has invented a reason not to discuss malaria with mosquitos and extends this to exclude tobacco from the discussion of any health issue, in spite of blaming tobacco for all health issues.

For Berteletti, and anti-smoking policy-makers everywhere, nothing is negotiable.

1 comment:

Pat Nurse MA said...

Florence Berteletti-kemp - the one person who opened my eyes to the fact that the EU is a dictatorship. She alone pushed me to UKIP and a very strong anti EU stance.

I hope MPs vote against tyrants like this who make rules and regs in spite of the alleged voter in Europe.

She did derail the conference. She lied about it. She is unelected but had the power to stop citizens of Europe meeting in their own parlt with one phone call to her unelected buddy President Pottering.

I'll always be grateful to her for showing me how awful the EU is - but I hate her with a passion because her prejudice and interference killed Gian Turci.