She takes issue with Lord Faulkner's view that tobacco companies have undue influence with politicians by pointing at the raft of recent legislation restricting smoking, and points instead to the disproportionate influence of tobacco control.
If there is a need for transparency – it is a need for government to come clean on just how much public money is being spent on Tobacco Control and just how far the tentacles of Tobacco Control have reached into government health policy. It might not be a bad idea to also get a truly independent body to evaluate how effectively this money has been spent. In August 2010 Eric Pickles MP announced that the government was going to stop "government lobbying government". This must surely apply to Tobacco Control.She points out that like many of us in the population, her campaigning has so far been voluntary.
What drove me to campaigning? A richly funded and politically active health lobbying industry that has agitated constantly to price out of reach, limit access to, or otherwise bully people into ending consumption of, things deemed undesirable or unhealthy.She has accepted payment from Forest to undertake a campaign against plain packaging.
Perhaps not surprisingly, her piece was published with Lord Faulkner's response immediately below. It has since been edited, but the original read as follows:
For Angela Harbutt to compare "Big Tobacco" to organisations devoted to improving public health is laughable, but hardly surprising from someone who admits to being funded by FOREST, an organisation set up by the Tobacco Manufacturers Association to promote the interests of the tobacco industry.Leaving aside the point that Angela Harbutt has not been paid for her previous five years of campaigning, rendering the point he makes inaccurate, Lord Faulkner somehow also has the belief that Forest was started as a tobacco industry front group. Its actual funding from tobacco companies is listed on the front page of its website. Simon Clark of Forest wrote to the PoliticsHome website pointing out the error, and clearly His Lordship has no evidence for his belief (other than that it is received tobacco control wisdom): hence the corrected version.
All that is left to Lord Faulkner after his attack on Angela Harbutt are (1) the somewhat pointless supposition that not smoking would save many hundred thousand lives, (2) the assertion that it is important that universities participate in studying the causes of disease (is that what happens in universities party to the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, which seems to have a loaded name) and (3) the suggestion that tobacco is the only consumer product that kills when used as intended. That old chestnut – never mind the fact that alcohol, salt and now sugar are catching up fast.
Does that mean that the health lobby will be fighting within itself for resources soon? That will show them as the one-trick ponies they are.
EDIT: background to latest edit of Lord Faulkner's response.