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Government should protect us from the vested interests of tobacco control

Interesting if not unexpected response from the Department of Health to a question by Conservative MP Philip Davies.

Davies asked the Secretary of State for Health "if he will make it his policy to require that organisations which engage with his Department on tobacco control issues disclose whether they are linked to or receive funding from (a) the pharmaceutical industry and (b) the public purse".

In response, public health minister Anne Milton replied:

The Government are under obligation to protect [my emphasis] tobacco control from the vested interests of the tobacco industry, under The World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Our policy on this is set out in Chapter 10 of 'Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A Tobacco Control Plan for England'. This does not extend beyond the tobacco industry and the Department, as with all other policy areas, engages with a wide range of stakeholders including the pharmaceutical industry, organisations in receipt of funding from the pharmaceutical industry and organisations in receipt of funding from the public purse.

In other words, the Government is admitting, without embarrassment, that it consults with groups that receive funding from the pharmaceutical industry – a "vested interest" if ever there was one – and the public purse (which takes us back to our Government Lobbying Government report).

It won't surprise you to learn that the "wide range of stakeholders" the Department of Health "engages with" doesn't include the tobacco industry or consumer groups like Forest.

In the words of one observer, "It seems that Milton is openly acknowledging that DoH is lobbied by organisations funded by DoH, and they are happy to speak with some ‘vested interest’ groups but not others.

Nothing new there, but what a way to run a country. Worse than MPs expenses, in my view.

As for the Government's "obligation to protect tobacco control from the vested interests of the tobacco industry", doesn't the Government have an obligation to protect consumers from the vested interests of the pharmaceutical industry?

There's a campaign in there somewhere.

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Reader Comments (22)

Didn't Patricia Hewitt end up as a consultant for Boots the Chemist? Yes she did.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 11:39 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Well, you're not exactly open about who pays your salary are you? Partial truth well hidden away on your website.

Pot. Kettle.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 11:43 | Unregistered Commentersimon (nsc)

Forest is regularly introduced as being funded by the tobacco Industry. I've never heard Prof John Britton, a trustee of ASH UK introduced as having received money for conducting trials of Varenicline (Champix). See Competing interests at the end of this

Here is ASH Uk's glowing review of Varenicline

I agree that Forest could make the information more prominent. I was surprised it didn't appear in "About Forest". Obviously, whatever your viewpoint, the most important aspect of any published claim is who paid for it and who stands to benefit.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 12:40 | Unregistered CommenterJon

If you have any interest in the smoking debate you'd have to be living on Planet Zog not to know that Forest receives donations from tobacco companies. If I had a pound for every time it's been mentioned on TV or radio I'd be a very rich man.

"Partial truth well hidden on your website"? On our website, in answer to the question 'Who funds you?' on the well-visited FAQ page (in the About Forest section), it states: "Most of our money is donated by UK-based tobacco companies". Pretty clear, I think.

PS. Most first-time visitors go to FAQs. That's why we put it there.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 13:06 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Whoever pays Simon's salary one thing's for sure, it isn't the taxpayer unlike some I could mention.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 13:23 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

My take on it Simon. I tried to post a "response is on my own website" link but it hasn't worked so I post it here for anyone interested in reading what I think!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 15:10 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Simon nsc

In my book an organisation accepting funding from an obvious interested party is only to be expected.

Government keeping tobacco at arm's length while quite openly inviting competing interested parties to lobby them is not acceptable. They are admitting that they don't mind being lobbied by vested/corporate interests at all and are quite indifferent to the charge of competing interests (for which read hypocrisy). All they want is to marginalise tobacco interests and the corporate interests that stand to benefit from this sidelining of tobacco are free to bribe them as much as they like.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 15:12 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

Simon (nsc) - thank God someone funds Forest - but it isn't scrounging tax payers money or as corrupt as ASH the political lobby group that fraudulently describes itself as a "charity".

Forest being funded by the tobacco industry is an old a tune like the one the Tories keep playing on still blaming cuts on Labour. This is direct competition between Big Pharma and not so Big Tobacco and the Govt is illegally giving an unfair competitive advantage to one rival over another.

Tax payer and corrupt Big Pharma funded ASH cannot take the moral high ground anymore so why not just shut up Simon (nsc) - the smokerphobe ASH troll who pretends to be a smoker meaning nothing he says on this site is of any relevance because he is in the pay or support of a direct competitor to Forest funders.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 15:51 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Liked your post Pat especially:

And I thought Tories were for free market competition and not about making laws that allow one competitor to prosper at the expense of a rival.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 16:33 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

Tobacco Control is a world wide epidemic and the control centre is at

Who are Globalink?, They are run by the World Health Organisation from Geneva: WHO ARE THEY?

IP Location: Switzerland Geneva World Health Organization
Resolve Host:
IP Address:
Reverse IP: 38 other sites hosted on this server.

World Health Organization WHO Headquarters
address: 20 Avenue Appia
address: Geneva 27, Geneva CH-1211
address: Switzerland

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 17:03 | Unregistered CommenterVlad the Impaler

Apologies Simon, I know it is common knowledge who funds Forest and that no attempt is made to conceal the facts. I looked at "About Forest" and didn't think to go to FAQ.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 17:38 | Unregistered CommenterJon

""In response, public health minister Anne Milton replied:
The Government are under obligation to protect tobacco control from the vested interests of the tobacco industry, under The World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.""

Believe or not, the 'WHO Framework Con on Tob Control' was signed by an official of the Foreign Office (info that I have obtained by Freedom of Info Act).

And so it seems that because an official of the Foreign Office signed this thing, the United Kingdom is forever committed to upholding Tobacco Control. UTTERLY, TOTALLY COMMITTED.
Nothing can be done to free ourselves from the commitment - except withdrawal from the Treaty. The UK is committed to do whatever the WHO Tobacco Control Committee says - or withdraw from the Treaty. And that goes for all the signatories to the Treaty.

Did the signatories (and, in particular, the person from the Foreign Office in the UK) know what they were signing up to?

Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 1:25 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

The FCTC is simply an excuse. It's something to hide behind, typical NuLab, lobby for it and then blame it. It's disappointing that this 'coalition' is continuing the very same grubby conduct of its predecessor and ignoring what its supposed to stand for, freedom of choice and respect for private property, particularly the Tories.

We don't have to comply with all of it. Its not a Law. We can behave like others, especially the French and discount bits we don't want or like.

Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 7:18 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

This link is an eye opener to the Pharma orruption in the USA

Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 8:12 | Unregistered CommenterBill Gibson

Interesting Junican.

What did Holland do then?

I thought I had heard that they have rescinded their smoking ban, or is that wrong?

Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 9:42 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

Belinda -


"And I thought Tories were for free market competition........................."

Well - to put it rather more accurately, small-government conservatives such as myself (with a large dose of Classical Liberalism thrown in) are very much in favour of free markets: the more 'capitalists', the better. And this is why we insist upon rigorous anti-monopoly laws ('anti-trust' laws in the States). If corporations (whose current legal status badly needs to be reviewed) are allowed to run rampant, then - sooner or later - the Big Fish will gobble up all the Small Fish, until you end up with virtually no 'competition' at all. As, in fact, Karl Marx predicted (of old-style capitalism).

This is what happened with Reagan's 'de-regulation' of the media sector back in the Eighties: the fifty-plus corporations that then existed have now been reduced to five or six. Imagine what that means for those of us who expect to see (at least some) critical and accurate reporting of current events ! Reagan, of course, was a faux-conservative (and used to be known as 'Red Ronnie' in the early days of his political career), and the reflexive 'anti-Republicanism' of the Left served merely to deepen his cover. And there are many more like him in today's Establishment - the one that got rid of Margaret Thatcher (with her intolerable Euroscepticism and wretched belief in individual freedom and responsibilty).

The corporate thugs that now infest all parties - managerial, globalist, eurocentric - are corporatists to the core. Consequently, they care as little for the commercial freedoms of the small businessman as they do for the social freedoms of the individual. Competition is as welcome to them as it is to the Mafia.

At the levels of power-concentration we are now witnessing, there is little to choose between the corporatism of the multi-nationals (and the quasi-political trans-national agencies such as the World Bank, the IMF, and the United Nations) and that of Soviet Communism.

Either way, the self-selecting Elite benefits at the expense of the Many. Collectivism versus Individualism. That is to say:

Collectivism for Us. Individualism for Them.

And bottom-feeders like Milton and bigger fish like Cameron and Blair are merely there to serve the needs of even hungrier creatures further up the food-chain.

People like you and me are just the barely-visible pond organisms, I fear.

Everyone really needs to get into the habit of seeking to discover the Real Agenda behind the Public Rhetoric. They are rarely the same. Once that is understood, the apparent 'paradoxes' become less, er, paradoxical: 'Labour' getting into bed with Big Business, and the 'Tories' supporting measures that would have made Stalin blush.

“Do not adjust your set. WE are in control !”

Time to switch it off – and look elsewhere for the Answers, perhaps ?

Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 13:16 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Junican -

The UK's rescinding a treaty ?

Wouldn't be cricket, Old Boy ! That's the sort of behaviour you'd expect from Johnny Foreigner. You'll be asking us to leave the European Union next (ha ! ha ! - only jokin', don't you know).

Chin-chin !

Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 13:30 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

A quick reminder that comments should be limited to a maximum of 300 words. What is it about this blog that encourages people to be so long-winded?!!!

Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 14:27 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Perhaps we should be looking along the same lines as Holland. Was the ban here not introduced to protect bar staff from the so called effects of shs? How would they argue that it must be smokefree, here if there was just an owner and no staff?

Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 15:12 | Unregistered CommenterJon


Holland changed their mind about applying the ban to small, proprietor owned bars.

I do not think that the Treaty is actually specific about where and when the ban should apply. I think that Ms Minton is spinning a line. Typical political speak. Instead of saying 'The Gov ARE under an obligation...', she should have said 'The Gov HAVE ACCEPTED an obligation (to back Tobacco Control)'. Of course, she really does not know what obligations the UK has - she just parrots the advice of the Health Zealots in the Health Dept.You know, do you not, that she is great pals with the dreaded Arnott?

Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 22:43 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Thanks Junican.

Don't all politicians and their ilk spin 'lines' or should that be LIES?

No, I was not aware that Ms Minton was pals with the diabolical Arnott.

I am easily confused at the best of times and do find that all this 'political speak' confuses me more, so do find it hard to weadle the actual facts out of what they are trying to say, so you and others here are a great help in putting me straight.

Wonder when the politicians will realise that plain speak could be far more beneficial to them in the long run than all this spin business?


Friday, May 13, 2011 at 11:16 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

I am not the Jon who posted at 15.12. I am the Jon who has been posting for several years, once under anon and for at least a year, under the name Jon. Please can the new Jon choose a different name? One possibility is NewJon, or perhaps Jon2.

Friday, May 13, 2011 at 13:15 | Unregistered CommenterJon

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