Friday, 18 May 2012

Lansley's Health Department ensures tobacco control rules the day on plain packaging

Thanks to Dick Puddlecote for this. You can access the evidence, a pdf of the Impact Assessment, from this post.

The Department of Health will appoint three panels of ten internationally-renowned experts in tobacco control for the provision of 'subjective judgments on the likely impact of standardised packaging'. The reason given for this is 'the lack of quantifiable evidence on the likely impact of standardised packaging, given that no country has yet introduced this measure'. Because of this there is a need get people to give their judgement on the issue.

In any sane mind, the absence of quantifiable evidence on the likely impact of a measure would be a good reason to exercise caution. Instead, the Department of Health has used this lack of evidence as an excuse to empower experts who all take exactly the same view of the issue as they do. Humble mortals cannot be trusted to reach a reasonable view in the absence of quantifiable evidence, but these experts can!  

It gets better. Discussing the qualifications of these individuals to be included, the document reads:
The latter two requirements suggested by Hora and van Winterfeldt (impartiality and lack of an economic or personal stake in potential findings) are considered impractical in this area, and so instead we will include a description of the participants’ employment and expertise for transparency.
Having a personal stake in the issue is no reason for excluding people from the panel. This is an outright admission that tobacco control personnel do have a stake in the issue. But if having a stake in the issue is now acceptable, where are the experts from actual tobacco companies? Or any of the long list of tobacco control stooges?

Well, one reason for their absence of course is that Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention of Tobacco Control says that these people's views have to be kept out of the process. Another is that suitability for inclusion seems to include a string of publications, as evidence of expertise. Publications are one of the chief products of the tobacco control industry: funding of this area seems to come from a bottomless wallet.

The Department of Health document uses the word 'transparency'. In plain view, they have shown us how clearly they have stacked the issue in favour of the policy they want, and have already spent thousands of pounds promoting.

Write to your MP about this. This is Monty Python territory. It's a reserved issue and will affect the whole of the UK. I have just written to my MP about the authorship of the so-called 'independent academic review' of evidence on the plain packaging issue. When he responds with a reply from Lansley I will take it further.

The Department of Health Consultation is here. Please respond in full. I can only agree with DP here:
... I still think it's important to respond to it in some way, preferably in detail. It doesn't take long and the more responses ignored, the more rigged the process is seen to be. They airbrushed out 25,000 from the tobacco display consultation, even after lying to parliament in the preparation. Our job is to keep being awkward and making them jump through ever more corrupt hoops.

1 comment:

Dick Puddlecote said...

Thanks for publicising this a bit more. 'Monty Python territory' is a good description, it's corrupt but also almost funny that they can expect anyone to take such a transparently biased consultation seriously.

I'm glad you agree with me that it's still important to play the game, it's only by doing so that their mendacity can be exposed.