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ASH's credibility goes up in smoke

Further to my earlier post, Minister's links with ASH questioned, Retail Newsagent has published this report:


The National Federation of Retail Newsagents is demanding a formal investigation by Prime Minister David Cameron into the conduct of the public health Minister in charge of the tobacco display ban.

National president Kieran McDonnell has written to No 10 with evidence he says calls into question the actions of Anne Milton and the relationship between government-funded charity ASH and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health and that could even scupper the ban at this late stage.

He writes that Ms Milton’s “inappropriate conduct necessitates a review of the legitimacy of the [display ban] legislation itself.”

The letter backs up questions from Torbay Liberal democrat MP Adrian Sanders to Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley, asking for his comments on Ms Milton’s acceptance of an award at an APPG Smoking and Health event and presenting one to the director of ASH.

Mr Sanders also seeks Mr Lansley’s response to the chairman’s comment at the event that ASH “do a great job in supporting MPs with lobbying their colleagues in Parliament”. ASH receives Whitehall cash on the proviso that it does not directly lobby the government.

In a reply to a Parliamentary question of MP Philip Davies, Ms Milton said: “Action on Smoking and Health has received funding from the government in the past…specifically to carry out defined projects. None of this funding was, or could be used, for lobbying purposes.”

Mr McDonnell said: “We have long suspected that ‘behind the scenes’ dealings have been going on. In the light of these recent statements, I regrettably now see proof of these suspicions, which is deeply offensive to our members, who have campaigned so hard to see the government fulfil its pre-election commitments to bring the debate back to the House of Commons for a free vote.”

Meanwhile, like many of you, I have been enjoying the rumpus over on Liberal VisionASH abuse of public money must end.

As the time of writing there are 107 comments. The author of the post, Angela Harbutt, dealt beautifully with one critic (Woollylib) but my favourite laugh-out-loud moment was her subsequent remark that:

Clearly I was getting over excited… it can happen to a girl you know.. Has a woman never said that to you before Mark?

Anyway, the really remarkable thing is the appearance – in the comments – of some leading anti-smoking zealots, among them Martin Dockrell of ASH (still waiting for your call, Martin), Linda Bauld of Bath University, and Robert West of Cancer Research UK.

It takes a lot to flush tobacco control activists out their comfort zone. Open debate is something they neither enjoy nor encourage. They much prefer their own company, often gathering in small anonymous rooms where they present one another with stomach-churning 'awards'.

I'm not sure they added much to the debate but it is interesting to note their mindset. Linda Bauld, for example, seems to think that the majority of the comments have been written by "representatives of the tobacco industry".

Likewise Robert West comments that "Some of the posts above have all the hallmarks of an orchestrated attack by the tobacco industry which is deeply concerned that the activities of ASH will damage their revenues".

Adding to the sense of paranoia, Martin Dockrell comments that "My views on front groups can be found in Tobacconomics".

Funny, isn't it, how anyone who disagrees with tobacco control's illiberal, paternalist agenda is immediately dismissed as a "front group" or a "representative" of Big Tobacco.

The idea that adults have minds and opinions of their own and like to use them to make informed choices about smoking (and eating and drinking and numerous other things) is anathema to tobacco control activists whose multi-million pound campaigns to rid the world of tobacco are carefully coordinated and orchestrated with military precision.

Anyone who goes off message (even previously respected scientists such as Enstrom and Kabat, for example, whose research, published in the British Medical Journal in 2003, demonstrated conclusively the weakness of the claim that passive smoking is a serious health risk) must be demonised as a lackey of Big T.

Anyway, there's more to be said about Linda Bauld and Martin Dockrell's Tobacconomics but I'll save that for another day.

For the moment it's good to see more people, including MPs in the House, questioning the credibility of ASH.

As Miranda's mother would say, "Such fun".

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Reader Comments (13)

Tobacco control's inflitration of parliament is an absolute disgrace and I'm so glad that Kieran McDonnell is demanding that it be taken seriously.

As for the LV thread, the antis' ad hominem attacks are entirely predictable given the pile of sh*t on which their case rests. Loved the comprehensive, irrefutable smack to Linda Bauld's assertion that all anti-ASH commenters were in the pay of Evil Big Tobacco.

Friday, June 24, 2011 at 9:31 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

This doesn't just end with ASH, either. The so called All Party Parliamentary Group title is misleading. It should be renamed All Party Anti Smoking Group. Of course MP's in the house can join or form any grouping they wish but they do not have the right to mislead and deceive people by attempting to sound impartial when they, by their composition and actions, prove they are not. To me, this is just as much a fraud as Milton and ASH.

Friday, June 24, 2011 at 9:36 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

If being an adult who enjoys the legal 'conumption' of tobacco products makes me a "front group" or representative of the tobacco companies, then guilty as charged - even though I am just a hard working woman in my 50's who just wants the freedom of choice to pursue any legal activity, whatever that may be.

There is time enough for nannying if and when I reach the stage of dementure that requires such treatment!

Friday, June 24, 2011 at 10:07 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

While I'm generally cautious about the power of blogs - to really get a debate going in the wider world, the mainstream media needs to pick it up. The Sunday papers or the Today programme remain vital - however, I do think ASH are rattled. The Guardian is reporting the government has ditched the COI (quite right) and as the cuts dig deeper the fake lobbying charities must fear for their future.

Friday, June 24, 2011 at 12:12 | Unregistered CommenterMark Butcher

I forwarded Chris Snowden's excellent "Dark Market" report to the National Federation of Retail Newsagents yesterday morning, although I had to use the website as there is no direct email to Kieran McDonnell. I hope he got it - the multiple FoI requests paint a picture of ministers actually being unable to make decisions "without consulting Deborah" and it also highlights the repeated lies of ASH about the costs of tobacco displays, despite repeated promptings from the suppliers of the quote.

I do hope he got it...

Friday, June 24, 2011 at 15:07 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

" recent months I have been accosted a few times in the street by people objecting to me smoking and on one occasion spat at for doing so. I know from conversations with other smokers that this is not unusual."

You may have read this in the Guardian Mark. It seems the Smokerphobia created and encouraged by the anti-smoker industry is leading to open physical attacks on smokers. If that's something that Milton and ASH are proud of then it goes against all they have ever said about concern for smokers health.

As Bauld says on LV, the ban was never about health but social culture change and to achieve it, they must also encourage the above attacks on people who smoke. That Govt supports this is outrageous and corrupt.

We should have another GE now, Milton should be sacked and Lansley should come out and tell us what his plans are for those of us who will be in that 18./5% minority he is aiming for.

Friday, June 24, 2011 at 15:12 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Sorry? Ash 'credibility', I wasn't aware they had any...

Friday, June 24, 2011 at 17:13 | Unregistered CommenterMac McCubbin

My favourite comment in the Liberal Vision link is this. An absolute gem which should be up on the largest billboards:

"Over70 Says:

I have read all of the above with interest and in some cases amusement, all the studies for and against trotted out, lets be honest studies can prove whatever the person or organisation wants at the time.
Lets take real life for a change, I was brought up in the 1940,s and then 75% of the population smoked, every where you went there was smoke including Doctors surgeries and Hospitals, the upstairs of buses was a fog of smoke as were cinemas, yet smokers and non smokers existed in peace with each other, gradually over the next 30years smoking rates declined, and as they did so rates of Asthma, chronic Bronchitus and Cancer have increased especially in the young.
Yet the generations that lived in a perpetual fog of not only Cigarette smoke but also the thick smogs that at times blanketed our cities from burning fossil fuels on fires, are the longest living Generation on record.
I think that speaks volumes in itself, and it is a fact, not some number crunching by Epidemiologists or biased pseudo scientific studies done by those with vested interests. But pure honest observed facts from a survivor.
I say survivor because if the facts trotted out in favour of the lethal effects of Second hand smoke were true, there would be no one alive over 55."

Saturday, June 25, 2011 at 0:52 | Unregistered Commentertimbone

I saw this also on Liberal vision, and it was refreshing to say the least, that "Over70" brought Reality into the debate, gave it a perspective that the Academics in their Ivory towers never could.

I share timbone's view it is a real GEM

Saturday, June 25, 2011 at 12:03 | Unregistered CommenterTony

Likewise, Tony.

"Over70" hits the nail square on the head with his comments.

Well said, Over70

Saturday, June 25, 2011 at 13:37 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

your article is great!-Dolce & Gabbana straight jeans

Monday, July 25, 2011 at 3:20 | Unregistered CommenterDolce & Gabbana straight jeans

your article is great!-Dolce & Gabbana straight jeans

Monday, July 25, 2011 at 3:21 | Unregistered CommenterDolce & Gabbana straight jeans

Let's cut off all government funding to these shill groups, then see how long they last with voluntary funding. We'll still have the problem of 'private endowments' such as the Woods-Johnson foundation, but that's another story.

Friday, December 8, 2017 at 11:19 | Unregistered CommenterScott Ewing

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