What do the following have in common?
- Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive, ASH
- Professor Simon Chapman, Sydney University
- Stephen Williams MP, Chairman, APPG on Smoking and Health
- Fiona Andrews, Director, Smokefree South West
- Dr Gabriel Scally, Regional Director of Public Health
- Betty McBride, British Heart Foundation
- Andrew Lansley MP, Secretary of State for Health
They are all listed as Supporters of Plain Packs by Plain Packs Protect, the publicly-funded campaign that wants all tobacco products encased in "standard" (ie grotesque) packaging.
A letter has been sent to the Department of Health requesting a response to the following questions:
1. Is it appropriate for the Secretary of State for Health to be listed as a supporter of plain packs (by a campaign that receives public money) in the middle of a public consultation on the issue and before the DoH has published its report on the consultation?
2. What action will the DoH (or the Secretary of State) take on this matter?
Like Chris Snowdon (and others) I am quite sure that Lansley is (or was) ignorant of the fact that he is being represented in this way by Plain Packs Protect. Nevertheless, it is easy to see how statements he has made would lead people to the conclusion that he is a supporter of plain packs.
Then again, how stupid (or arrogant) of Plain Packs Protect to list the Secretary of State for Health as a supporter before the consultation has closed. They really aren't very bright, are they? Another own goal, I think, for this increasingly error-prone operation.
Plain Packs Protect appears to have removed Heath Secretary Andrew Lansley from its list of "supporters". (I imagine there was some frantic activity behind the scenes late last night or early this morning!)
We are still waiting, though, for a response to our email that was sent to the Secretary of State's office at the Department of Health yesterday following a phone call to a member of Lansley's staff.
Thankfully we have a screen grab of the offending entry (see above) - which has also appeared on several other blogs - and you can rest assured that it will be circulated as further evidence of the flawed nature of the consultation and the lengths to which the tobacco control industry will go to buy the public's support.
PS. Thanks to Jay (see Comments) for pointing out that PPP has added this sentence to their Supporters page: "These comments have been taken from the public domain and do not necessarily represent an endorsement of the Plain Packs Protect campaign."
No, but it certainly looked like that – as was the intention – until they got caught out. Pathetic.