Thursday, 22 March 2012

Fairy tale from the World Health Organisation

I found it hard to believe that this was written by the Director-General of the World Health Organisation. How can a leader of the global health organisation write such emotive claptrap from her position of eminence?

Margaret Chan introduces the Fifteenth World Conference on Tobacco and Health.
This conference is being held at a time when we are at a crossroads in our efforts to rid the world of a killing addiction. In principle, the balance is entirely in our favour. In a perfectly sane, reasonable, and rational world, with a level playing field, the anti-tobacco community would surely speak with the loudest voice and carry the biggest stick.
In her world the only thing that holds back a victory of civil society over tobacco, which has unique killing properties, is the persuasiveness, power and wealth of evil tobacco companies. Nowhere does she mention that some of what she terms 'civil society' does not support the global anti-tobacco project. Perhaps most disingenuous is her 'David and Goliath' depiction of civil society, representing the poor people against the filthy rich tobacco companies. Her humble tobacco fighters are in Singapore for a four-day conference at a very humble venue, with the option of a pre-conference preparation period and includes the option of a Bloomberg award for promoting tobacco control through the arts. Scholarships are available for this heroic yet humble effort, from the Bill and Melinda Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and three other bodies (these are available for the youth sections too).

Chan says:
Big Tobacco can afford to hire the best lawyers and PR firms that money can buy. Big Money can speak louder than any moral, ethical, or public health argument, and can trample even the most damning scientific evidence ... 
So if her side won it would be because of integrity and sound scientific reasoning, but if the other side won it would be down to the depth of their pockets.

Her mission is to persuade people everywhere that tobacco companies provide products so injurious to people's health that they should not be encouraged anywhere, and where they exist they should be marginalised to the utmost extent possible – regardless of any benefits they bring to struggling economies, in any way. In the UK, for example, in spite of much reported youth inactivity and anti-social behaviour, it would still be considered unproductive to allow tobacco companies to sponsor  sports activities.  

And doesn't this just make you want to weep:
Members of civil society, 
We need you, now more than ever. 
Experience has shown that, when government political resolve falters or weakens under industry pressure, coalitions of civil society can take up the slack and carry the day. We need this kind of outcry, this kind of rage.
This organisation wishes to elevate the threats of tobacco above any other priorities of national governments. She wants an army of activists orchestrated by the Framework Convention Alliance to raise objections if governments get it wrong. Her closing comments are also instructive:
I sincerely hope that this conference, including the high-level ministerial panel on countering tobacco industry interference, will again tip the balance entirely in our favour.
This conference is our watershed event. I sincerely hope that this event further damages the health of an industry that aggressively sells a health-destroying addiction. 
We can, and must, stop this industry’s massive contribution to sickness and death, dead in its tracks.
Even if she kills off an industry with a 'massive contribution to sickness and death', she will not do away with sickness and death, and seems quite unconcerned with the complex pattern of events that make the poor particularly vulnerable. The anti-tobacco project is run by fanatics who think in terms of black and white ('civil society' good, tobacco bad), even though conditions on the ground are rarely so straightforward.

The latest report from the Framework Convention Alliance admits the movement is in trouble, but does not acknowledge that its simplistic outlook and goals might be responsible. For example it criticises those Parties to the Framework Convention Alliance that have partnerships with tobacco companies, without being at all concerned with the terms of such partnerships. Such countries are Breaking the Rules and get a Bad Mark, regardless. It is the kind of non-negotiable approach you expect from tyrants.


Lyn said...

Margaret Chan and her cronies are SICK!

Everything in life has the potential to kill. For some of us, tobacco helps us to continue living. Without it I and many others would be totally miserable and living a life not worth living.

Butt out and leave consenting adults to make their own choices!

All you are doing, by demonising smokers and the tobacco industry is opening doors around the world for the blackmarket and far more harmful products that will do far more serious damage to health, only second to the damage you idiotic, idealistic morons are doing.


Lyn said...

Further to my comment, above, I no longer trust so called 'scientific evidence' produced by those who wish to take control of the lives of others for their own ends. Too much so called scientists these days only publish skewed results that favour those who pay for the 'research'.

I prefer to trust to my own logic and judgement and what is actually happening in the REAL world, not your fantasyland.

You, at the WHO, blame everything on tobacco, but I see that these days, with smoking being a third of what it was in the 1950's and 60's, there are more people dying of cancer and more children and adults with asthma and other respiratory problems. Therefore, logic dictates, that it has nothing to do with smoking, except that just perhaps, smoking was in some way preventing or minimising these illnesses.

So far none of your silly little games or schemes are working and are not likely to either; we are grown ups and trust our own judgement and have no time for petty little people like those of you in the WHO and your little tag along organisations.