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« Don't shoot, I'm a smoker! | Main | Wanted: your thoughts on the smoking ban, five years on »

ASH: you're all part of Big Tobacco now

Via jredheadgirl I was alerted to an article in the Kansas Reporter.

The headline reads Congratulations, you are part of Big Tobacco and it begins:

If you oppose smoking bans for any reason — property rights, individual liberty, you like smokers — you’re now apparently part of Big Tobacco.

That article, published on Friday, reminded me of a briefing document written by ASH for the All Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health.

It's entitled Tobacco front groups and third party lobbying tactics and it starts with the following statement:

This document has been prepared by ASH for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health and sets out a summary of information in the public domain at the current time about front groups and third party advocates with links to the tobacco industry and their role in the recent UK legislative process.

It goes on to list the following "Organisations and their links with the tobacco industry":

Adam Smith Institute
Alcan Packaging
Alliance against IP Theft
American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union
Anti-Counterfeiting Group
Association of Convenience Stores
Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers
Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP)
British Brands Group
British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium
British Retail Consortium
Cato Institute
Confederation of British Industry
Confederation of European Community Cigarette Manufacturers
Democracy Institute
European Cigar Manufacturers’ Association
European Communities Trademark Association
European Policy Centre
European Policy Forum
European Rolling Papers Association
European Roundtable of Industrialists
European Risk Forum
European Smoking Tobacco Association
European Smokeless Tobacco Council
European Travel Retail Council
Federation of Small Businesses
Fraser Institute
Freedom to Choose (F2C)
Global Intellectual Property Centre
Independent Retail News
Institute of Economic Affairs
International Chamber of Commerce
International Trademark Association
ISBA (Incorporated Society of British Advertisers)
Leicester Asian Business Association (LABA)
Liberal Vision
London Economics
National Association of Cigarette Machine Operators
National Federation of Retail Newsagents
Nude Brand Consulting
Privacy International
Progressive Vision
Responsible Retailers
Rural Shops Alliance
Save Our Pubs and Clubs
Scottish Grocers Federation
Sinclair Collis
Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue
Transatlantic Public Affairs
The Free Society
TICAP (The International Coalition Against Prohibition)
Tobacco Industry Platform
Tobacco Manufacturers Association (TMA)
Tobacco Retailers Alliance (TRA)
Tobacco Workers Alliance
Union ales Fabricants (Unifab)
UK Travel Retail Forum

The briefing also lists "PR firms with tobacco links" and politicians who have accepted hospitality from tobacco companies.

In a section called 'Astroturfing' it mentions the online magazine Spiked plus a number of individuals including me, Patrick Basham (Democracy Institute), Mark Littlewood (Institute of Economic Affairs) and Chris Snowdon (Velvet Glove Iron Fist).

The gist of the document is that everybody mentioned is either a front group or an apologist for Big Tobacco and anyone who has ever had a meeting with or exchanged correspondence with the tobacco industry is, by definition, a stooge of BT.

In fact, by extension I guess it means that anyone who is opposed to extreme tobacco control measures – comprehensive smoking bans, the display ban, plain packaging etc – is also part of Big Tobacco's "evil" web.

The idea that we have minds of our own and can think for ourselves is obviously beyond ASH's comprehension.

You can download the report here.

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Reader Comments (24)

Pleased to see my name's not on the list.

But for the avoidance of doubt, I did make my case FAO Stephen Williams who I asked for funding to get to Bristol. Still not heard from him tho :>)

I'm guessing they don't want honest opinions or any opinion from the other other side unless they can dismiss it and link it to "dirty Big Bad Tobacco money. "

Frankly, I just wish they'd grow up and stop acting like toddlers stamping their feet in tantrum demanding their own way.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 13:16 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

If I were the head of Freedom2Choose, I'd sue. Just sayin' ;)

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 14:03 | Unregistered CommenterDick Puddlecote

That's a long list of people the consultation will have to ignore under article 5.3, FCTC.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 15:13 | Unregistered CommenterFrank J

Simon - I tried to link to a blog post in response to this but couldn't - as I couldn't the other day on something else - so here it is.

Secret Corporate Lobbying is what ASH does best. It rallies its own employees, paranoid smokerphobics and front groups in other fake charities, and then pretends that this is the "public" view while the real grass roots public fights ASH on blogs such as this only to then be dismissed as being paid for, or supported, by Big T, and then frozen out of any real debate.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 15:34 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Indeed, is legal action possible? I don't know many of the organisations or people there but I know Chris Snowdon is "unsullied" and F2C make a big point of not having any links with with Big T - as much as they would like the cash, they know that ANY link would instantly belittle their argument. But then why bother, when ASH just says you're a Big T front group, anyway?

If I was any of these people I would make a big legal song and dance about this, like the Carr organisation did when ASH said the "Easy Way to Stop Smoking" method didn't work. Anything to get them in Court and expose them for the persistent liars that they are.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 16:35 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

I just read the ASH report. The 'shock horror' paranoid tone of the report is laughable to say the least! I was half-expecting a mention of the Lizards from the 4th Dimension!
So it seems that everybody, including shop workers, people in the manufacturing industries, advertising, packaging, in fact a good chunk of the working classes, trade unions, even volunteers doing some leafleting for their local MPs - all are in the clutches of Big Tobacco.
If Tobacco Control have their way, that's an awful lot of people who will end up on the dole.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 16:36 | Unregistered CommenterJocelyn

Good lord, I've just looked at some of the names on that list (admittedly, the ones I was familiar with jumped out first).

But the CBI?
The American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union?
The Anti-Counterfeiting Group?
The Association of Convenience Stores?
The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers?
The European Travel Retail Council?
The Federation of Small Businesses?

They REALLY HAVE just made a list of every organisation and trade body that has ever said their asinine ideas are stupid and pointless and just tarred them with the "Big Tobacco" brush.

You would really hope that this list alone would wake up any MPs as to what a bunch of deluded, self-serving liars these people are. But then again, as this was prepared for the All Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, most of whom are members of ASH anyway, I suppose that is a forlorn hope.

Democracy, eh? You gotta love it!

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 16:42 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

Same old story,ad hominem attacks when lack of solid arguments exist.

Even if a study comes from the tobacco industry,it must checked for its scientific merits and nothing else

That's just to disillusion people with lack of knowledge on the subject to consider everyone who opposes on the issue linked to the tobacco industry

Perhaps equally we shouldn't be accepting WHO's FCTC since they have collaborated with Big Pharma

PS The same happened with ANR & FORCES

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 16:50 | Unregistered CommenterDimi Karagian

Kerching, kerching, kerching! Please let the lawsuits begin, one after another, as the so-called "stooges" sue for defamation of character in ASH's efforts to constrain free speech and debate. Since ASH is funded by government money, maybe a case can be brought for defunding based on this latest attempt at character assassination of theirs lest the politicians wish to be associated with criminal liars.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 17:23 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Mr A: You forgot the union, Unite.

Yes. A massive union with over a million members is merely a front group for tobacco interests now.

ASH must be so rattled by the increase in voices against them (commensurate with their increasingly pointless and deluded policies, so to be expected), that they've completely lost the plot. :)

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 17:34 | Unregistered CommenterDick Puddlecote

I just wish that big T really had the power and influence that ASH invents because if it did then ASH wouldn't exist.

These hysterical claims from ASH do, however, show just how desperate ASH is in scraping the barrel to find new lies about Big T to throw at Govt.

I also alerted my MP Karl McCartney to this defamation and said I think he should sue as he has never accepted tobacco funding, has never lobbied on behalf of Big T - although he has raised issues with Lansley and Milton on behalf of a concerned consumer constituent which I thought was his job - and he's explained fully in the public domain about those tickets.

I think all of those on the list should unite and take legal action against ASH. Threat of legal action and bullying of employers before the ban worked for them in scaring companies into acceptance of their ideology.

It's time that the law was used to protect people instead of bullying them and defaming their characters and ASH has no right to its privileged position in the DoH where it is paid to invent such lies.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 17:40 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Can,t it just be proved that they plain cuckoo.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 17:45 | Unregistered CommenterSheila

I'm just wondering what I'm missing here.

'This document has been prepared by ASH for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health and sets out a summary of information in the public domain at the current time about front groups and third party advocates with links to the tobacco industry and their role in the recent UK legislative process'.

What role might that be...I'm confused. You see hasn't the government only ever involved the tobacco control movement when bringing in further legislation?

Whenever were any of these organisations or individuals asked to give any evidence to the Select Committee on Smoking and Health about plain packaging or about the smoking ban in general?

That alone is a complete lie...and if I were Chris Snowdon, I most certainly would consider legal redress.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 18:13 | Unregistered CommenterAlanP

I can't post officially on behalf of F2C, but as its (volunteer, unpaid) Committee Secretary I can tell you personally that neither it nor I have ever received one penny or payment in any kind of any sort from Tobacco or any related industry. Not even a glass of beer. Not even a canape has passed my lips.

Unlike ASH staff and most of its trustees, who seem to do all this lobbying while being handsomely paid from the Tobacco-Control Industry and therefore have a personal financial interest.

I bet the people who wrote and published those smears got paid handsomely for their work.

This is a defamation and slur on my character and could be financially detrimental to my reputation and business. It's also a huge slur on my hard-working committee colleagues, on F2C's members, and on all the others listed who had the temerity to question them.

Angry? Too damned right I am. But I'm also too poor to sue them.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 18:50 | Unregistered CommenterLysistrata

I would have thought there was enough groups listed to take group action against ASH, it would only need one case against them to discredit them once and for all.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 19:51 | Unregistered CommenterTony

Actually Dick, I did see Unite, after I posted. I even did a quick Google search to see what solitary statement got them blacklisted by ASH as being Big Tobacco stooges. Couldn't find anything though, apart from a few pages on Unite's website supporting No Smoking Day.

Then again, as hopefully they are all learning now.... there is no placating a zealot....

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 20:20 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

March 2011

"Unite has significant numbers of members in BAT, JTI and Imperial, the three major tobacco companies in the UK. "

"The industry employs around 6,000 people directly in production and distribution of tobacco products many of whom are skilled manufacturing workers. The tobacco industry is also a major client of the print and logistics industries where Unite also has significant membership interests."

That would probably do it.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 21:05 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

If anyone wanted to create a list of Tobacco Control front groups a good start would be the list of around 250 'Stakeholders' who were sent copies of the Smoking Ban consultation but I'm sure many more new recruits will have been funded during the past 5 years.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 21:57 | Unregistered Commenterchrisb

Rose2 said:
' "Unite has significant numbers of members in BAT, JTI and Imperial, the three major tobacco companies in the UK..."
...That would probably do it.'

Yep, you're spot on there Rose2; and a bloody good researched reference. Ignore the workers' interests as well as the consumers'. Even though the union is set up to represent their members' interests. All these views are tainted and can be ignored.

We know their endgame already: a totally smokefree world.

It's part of the WHO written plan. As are anti-pleasure receptor injections on the way there. And nicotine only being available on prescription.

You know, I think we should challenge ASH and our government more directly about their views on this endgame, as well as on this temporary tiny diversion about ASH's imagined Big Tobacco links with people and organisations who disagree with them.

Are we or they more frightened to acknowledge that those are the WHO's currently politically unacceptable plans?

I think we should be told.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 23:41 | Unregistered CommenterLysistrata

@ chrisb.

Indeed, I shudder to think how many paid drones there are beavering away in Tobacco Control. If I remember correctly, the sham consultation document on tobacco displays that ignored the shopkeepers' submission was sent to only members of TC (ASH, Smokefree Kigs, D-Myst, Smokefree Northwest, Smokefree North east etc etc etc) and it got 80,000 signatures!

Clearly, tax-payers' money well spent!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 1:07 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

Wow! This really is hysteria of the highest order and it speaks volumes as to how worried ASH really are. What a list! Surely even our slow-off-the-mark politicians could only read it as the rantings of some extremely desperate people who - although I'm sure they'd never admit it in public - are very, very worried about their future funding.

The most surprising one to me is Unite. I thought that all the trade unions were solidly behind the smoking ban, so it's encouraging to see that at least one might - some time and some place - have had the temerity to whisper that it "might not be quite such a good idea." I'll have to investigate further and, if that's the case, I'll switch my membership from my present pro-ban union to Unite instead!

Tobacco control is clearly extremely worried about something ...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 1:20 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

Swarm effect

"We created a coalition around our key messages. A smoke-free steering group was set up involving major health and medical organisations in alliance with the Trades Union Congress, individual politicians, local government officers and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

They ran their own effective campaigns, but remained committed to an agreed strategy originally drafted by Ash. Networks of campaigners can be provided with key resources and a sense of direction without ever being told what to do. It's called the "swarm effect".

Let's not forget the ASH assured everyone that business would improve after the ban and accused every study that said it would be a disaster of being somehow in league with the tobacco companies, so union participation in this social engineering project should have been risk free.

GMB demonstrates for total ban
Thursday 24 November 2005

"Hospitality workers from the GMB union make a point about the dangers of second-hand smoke at a protest outside a Gala casino in London last week.

The protesters were marking National Lung Cancer Day (17 November) by donning gas masks and calling on the Government to introduce a total ban on smoking in public places that doesn't exempt private members' clubs and pubs that don't serve food.

About 100,000 workers in hospitality will still be exposed to second-hand smoke under the Government's plans."

They even appear to have strong-armed GMB sponsored MPs over the "free" vote.

MPs urged to vote for total smoking ban

“Unions and public health officers are urging MPs to back a total ban on smoking in public places, including pubs and clubs. The calls come after the government’s decision last week to allow Labour MPs a free vote on the smoking ban proposals in the health Bill (Risks 239).

The TUC has already called for a ban without exceptions. And last week GMB organiser Mick Ainsley, whose union organises casino workers, said: ‘We are writing to all GMB sponsored MPs to remind them that the issue here is not about a smoker’s individual choice, it is about the right of workers not to breathe in secondhand smoke.’

Of course after making the terrible mistake of trusting ASH and losing so many members jobs for them, one problem was loss of face.

The GMB in 2009.

"Britain's pubs survived two world wars. They cannot survive being made to be cash cows to pay off the debts of the property companies and brewers that so clearly don't have the interests of pubs and consumers at heart."

Understandably, it seems that no one wants to admit that they are in any way responsible for the ensuing catastrophe.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 9:14 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

Sorry if I missed it on other posts (am wearing post eye op patch),did they mention anyone who has funds invested in tobacco companies either directly or via their pension funds.... Said Fund Managers being also then, worthy of the list, as are any companies that supply the tobacco companies with anything, from machinery to loo roll .... ? If you're gonna be paranoid, at least make a comprehensive fist of it !

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 19:43 | Unregistered CommenterD'babe

They obviously forgot my mate 'Pete', a total non smoker but someone who can see his job disappearing in the near future! I wonder just how many 'Pete's' there really are?

Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 10:15 | Unregistered CommenterPhil Johnson

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