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Sunday
Apr032016

The canonisation of Clive Bates, part two

More adulation for Clive Bates, the former director of ASH who is now a leading advocate of e-cigarettes.

Fresh from the fug of Vape Jam UK, Dick Puddlecote has posted a clip of an eight-minute interview Bates gave to a Canadian website.

A feature of Dick's post is a "top rant" in which Clive – a long-term tobacco control activist – imagines himself as a smoker-turned-vaper:

"You told us to quit smoking. You taxed the pants off us; you've bullied us with your public information campaigns; you've racked up the stigma that we felt.

You've tried to stop us using these products wherever we can. You've hit us with massive societal disapproval. Tobacco companies haven't done that, government and public health have done that.

So we've done the right thing. We've got off smoking; we've protected our health; we produce a vapour which doesn't harm anyone; most people aren't troubled by it. Just leave us alone! Just get off our backs!"

"Bravo!" applauds Dick. "Watch and enjoy," he tells his readers, "because this is what advocacy should be like: confident, forthright and pleasantly free of nitpicking and weasel words."

Personally I find it quite nauseous.

I've made it clear (several times) that I admire Clive's skills as a campaigner but that recognition comes with a serious caveat.

In November 2014, for example, I wrote:

Clive is a shrewd, sincere and intelligent campaigner. I have a lot of respect for him but I must point out – not for the first time – that the idolatry (#ImWithClive) that greets his every word is ironic because in my opinion he must take some share of the blame for the culture of intolerance that has swept the nation with regard to smoking and, by association, nicotine.

As director of ASH Clive was no stranger to fear mongering about passive smoking. Few of the allegations made much sense and during his time in charge the threat of second hand smoke was repeatedly debunked.

See The Canonisation of Clive Bates (Taking Liberties).

In January that year, in response to a post Clive had written entitled 'Where is the humility? Where is the empathy?', I also wrote:

Clive is correct to berate public health workers for their lack of "humanity" and "understanding" of e-cigarettes and those who want to quit smoking tobacco.

But what about smokers who don't want to quit, or those whose lives have been changed, sometimes ruthlessly and often for the worse, by smoking bans and other anti-tobacco measures designed to "denormalise" their habit and stigmatise them personally.

Don't they deserve empathy too?

In common with many e-cig campaigners, Clive loves the testimonies of vapers who quit smoking, but where is the "humility" to accept that a great many people enjoy smoking, have no wish to quit, and should be allowed to smoke in comfort, without harassment, in some enclosed public places?

See Where is the empathy for smokers who don't want to quit? (Taking Liberties).

If you can stomach it you can watch (if not enjoy) Clive's interview on Regulator Watch here.

Me? Pass the sickbag.

Update: Grandad and Frank Davis have also commented.

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Reader Comments (15)

Clive Bates arrives at ASH

Green campaigner and marketing specialist to take charge at ASH
16 June 1997

"The new Director of ASH, Action on Smoking and Health, has started work. Clive Bates joins ASH just as the political temperature surrounding tobacco control policy is rising sharply. He comes to ASH having previously worked for Greenpeace as a campaigner and the computer company, IBM, as a marketing specialist."
http://www.ash.org.uk/media-room/press-releases/green-campaigner-marketing-specialist-takes-charge-at-ash

One year later ASH gets a legal opinion on exposing workers to passive smoking under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, long before the FCTC.

"In 1998 ASH obtained a legal opinion from John Melville Williams QC which suggests that the date of guilty knowledge in respect of SHS would be likely to be held by the Courts to be some time in the early 1990s."
http://www.smokefreeaction.org.uk/archive/gsfethompsons.html

Which enabled Deborah Arnott to threaten the hospitality industry with compensation claims in 2004

“ASH has sent a registered letter to all the UK’s leading hospitality trade employers , warning them that the ” date of guilty knowledge ” under the Health and Safety at Work Act is now past, and that employers should therefore know of the risks of exposing their staff to secondhand smoke.”

"ASH and Thompsons are also planning further steps to encourage employees who believe their health has been harmed by smoking in the workplace to seek legal advice on making a claim for compensation."
http://www.ash.org.uk/media-room/press-releases/ash-and-thompsons-tell-employers-dont-say-you-werent-warned-over-secondhand-smoke

Which led to the Smoking Ban

But not only that, this "date of guilty knowledge" threatened the HSE and the government.

“In a legal opinion obtained by ASH, J. Melville Williams QC suggests that not only has the date of guilty knowledge passed for employers, but also for the Health & Safety Executive and Commission."
http://occmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/55/8/583.full

Leading to all those bans in hospitals and captive populations in psychiatric hospitals and prisons.

Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 13:35 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

I find it nauseating too - especially when people who once trashed tobacco control junk science on smoking now use that very same junk science to promote ecigs over tobacco.

Vaping clearly makes former smokers the same kind of hypocrites that they criticise.

Clive is a bully towards smokers and only backs vaping because he can see the day will come when smokers will be forced on to these things.

I would rather continue to enjoy organic tobacco that has lived nicely alongside my own body than put into my lungs some man-made chemicals with warnings on the packet that make tobacco warnings look tame in comparison.

I'd also rather not face the prospect of having a battery blow up in my face or any other part of my body.

I only agree with Clive that thugs like him and the rest of his smokerphobic pals in tobacco control, and new-found zealots in vaping, should just leave us alone.

Leave smokers alone and y'know what? They might just leave vapers alone too.

I'm guessing that message wouldn't sit nicely with Clive or any other vaper who thinks to only way to win favour for themselves is to bash smokers and bash their product of choice.

Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 14:31 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Yes you can stick vaping. Only tobacco will do for me.

Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 16:50 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy Goodacre

"Clive is a bully towards smokers and only backs vaping because he can see the day will come when smokers will be forced on to these things"

You know that isn't true Pat because he told you on Twitter when you stated that you will never give up smoking because you enjoy it. See here. The reason Bates is so in favour of tobacco harm reduction policies is precisely because he doesn't think coercion is an effective or morally acceptable position to take. He argues against 'endgame' wibble at every opportunity!

Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 19:02 | Unregistered CommenterDick Puddlecote

I think you have missed my point completely, Simon. It's perfectly possible to agree with and promote Bates's admirable vaping & snus advocacy whilst still disagreeing completely with whatever he got up to in his former role.

And, as I wrote in the comments at mine just now:

At an event in 2012 at the Guildhall in London (which I attended so heard it first hand), Arnott described Bates's parting words as saying that she should concentrate on tobacco harm reduction and not coercion. She ignored it of course, and was only dragged kicking and screaming to the table by the vociferous nature of the vaping lobby, all individuals.

He is on record on many occasions attacking tobacco control for pursuing policies to do with a stick rather than a carrot.

He is also of the opinion that if you don't want to quit smoking you shouldn't be forced to. He refers to that too in the clip.

He's fairly consistent in agreeing that people who like to smoke are quite entitled to make that choice and should not be coerced.

If the quotes I picked out don't give the impression then what will?

Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 19:12 | Unregistered CommenterDick Puddlecote

Yet he supports the ban on smoking in all enclosed public places which is clearly intended to force many smokers to quit. If Clive doesn't think coercion is an effective or morally acceptable position to take, why would he do that?

Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 19:17 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Clive Bates' reply to my questions on Dave Atherton's blog in 2012

Clive Bates
June 29, 2012

"It’s not a secret – we were trying to get smoke-free public places almost from the dawn of time. Huge volumes of misinformation were produced on all aspects of smoking and passive smoking by the tobacco industry and its bought up and slavish hacks. No surprise surely…?"
https://daveatherton.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/clive-bates-former-head-of-ash-on-snus-hat-tip-chris-snowdon/#comment-41323

With my rather indignant reply underneath.

Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 20:27 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

Here's my take on it. Feel free to disagree, as always. :)

Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 21:41 | Unregistered CommenterDick Puddlecote

It’s a sad thing to witness a once-valued champion of smokers’ rights going the way of so many smokers-turned-vapers and simperingly worshipping at the feet of anyone who mutters so much as a word of support for e-cigarettes, regardless of their previous credentials. Sad, too, to see him leaping to the defence of his beloved Clive in these comments. Does vaping lead one to lose one’s memory, I wonder? Now, that might be a vaping-related health risk that hasn’t yet been explored!

But to be honest, Simon, DP’s blog isn’t really worth checking for items of interest to smokers these days, because he so rarely addresses smokers’ problems – even though these, by anyone’s estimation, are still far, far worse than the mere paltry finger-pointing that vapers’ are currently subject to. Now that he’s not one of us any more I guess we’re just not that important in his view – which is, sadly, a very common characteristic amongst many ex-smokers. His blog now is pretty much all about vaping, and vapers, and vapes, with the odd booze or sugar or obesity story thrown in for good measure. The way it’s going, give him a few more months and his blog will be full of out-and-out anti-smoking stuff the likes of which Bates, Arnott et al would be proud to write themselves. Just watch that space ...

Monday, April 4, 2016 at 1:20 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

It’s a sad thing to witness a once-valued champion of smokers’ rights going the way of so many smokers-turned-vapers and simperingly worshipping at the feet of anyone who mutters so much as a word of support for e-cigarettes, regardless of their previous credentials.

Have to agree, Misty. He’s been wabbling the last few months with mostly threads on vaping. He’s been walking a fine line, just barely containing the urge to spout antismoking slogans for which many a vaper has become notorious. But the last few days the mask has slipped and he’s let loose on smoking in justifying his now preferred vaping.

Maybe his visit to Vape Jam UK had something to do with it. Flashing lights, razzle dazzle, vaping is the way of the future…. a superior product…… look at all the neat gadgetry…. my gizmo has a turbo boost….smoking is for “Neanderthals”. Maybe he was baptized in a vat of e-cigarette liquid, exiting “saved and pure”. What does Dick now have to do with [backward] smokers when he’s seen the light…… the light at the end of the e-gizmo (are there still lights on these gizmos?)?

And surely Dick must have had an encounter with some of the apostles of “harm reduction” such as Clive Hates that have given their blessing to vaping. Yep, mixing in that company, the evangelical zeal, has got to have an effect. And little Dick returned from the conversion conference all excited. “I met Clive Bates. You should hear what Clive Bates has to say. Clive has a solution for everyone. He’s a changed man. He’s really nice, you know”.

Oh, Dick. Come back, Dick. You’ve gone to the dark side.

Looks like DP’s blog is going the same way as Siegel’s – essentially a vaping theme.
SAD.

Monday, April 4, 2016 at 10:10 | Unregistered CommenterJamaica

DP - I didn't see that tweet you posted a link to. Maybe because I've been off Twitter for so long.

I don't trust him and I never will. He did too much damage. Once a tobacco control thug always a tobacco control thug - unless, of course, he's changed his stance and has decided to fight for the right of smokers to be treated as human again, ie - able to meet socially in their own bars, clubs etc, with maybe laws to protect them from smokerphobics who would sack them from jobs just for being smokers, even if they don't smoke at work, maybe even deny them healthcare because they're smokers - all this stuff we now face daily because back when he was with ASH Clive did his best to stigmatise us and worked to bring us to this point.

He'll fight for our right only if and when we go on vaping. Some of us have tried them, and the heat not burn things, but don't like them. Why should we be forced onto one or another if we're happy with what we've always had and always enjoyed and don't have any of the myriad of health problems vapers and tobacco controllers keep pushing that vaping will "save" us from.

It's bollox and you know it.

Monday, April 4, 2016 at 10:28 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

He's fairly consistent in agreeing that people who like to smoke are quite entitled to make that choice and should not be coerced.

Punitive taxation is not coercion. Right.

Monday, April 4, 2016 at 10:42 | Unregistered CommenterTwisted Root

Jamaica. I still consider DP as a friend and so your words hurt even if I understand where they're coming from.

That dick turned vaper doesn't matter a jot as long as he doesn't become so enthused with them he forgets that junk science on ecigs comes from the same junk science on smoking.

I feel sure he's better than that deep down.

Monday, April 4, 2016 at 13:55 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

Jamaica: "Looks like DP’s blog is going the same way as Siegel’s – essentially a vaping theme."

A while ago, I got a lot of stick from many for writing almost constantly for two years about plain packaging, including from many smokers who commented along the lines of "what do I care what box it comes in or about tobacco companies, talk about something else". Likewise when there was a lot of 'public health' pressure in favour of minimum alcohol pricing I wrote almost exclusively on that for about a fortnight. In the recent past, the 'public health' abuse of power and lies has mostly been on the subject of e-cigs, that's why I write about it.

I'm sure once we know what the next big organised campaign from tobacco control is (because there's sure to be one) I'll be back writing about smoking issues again. But at the moment there is an avalanche of misinformation and lies surrounding vaping, should I ignore it?

As for the idea that I'm "containing the urge to spout antismoking slogans", you appear to be reading what you want to rather than what I say. If you mean that I recognise there is a spectrum of risk between different tobacco and vaping products, yes of course I do, because there is. It's pointless and counterproductive to deny it. Simon also often writes that tobacco carries risks and has also written about the potential for reduced harm products such as 'Heat not Burn' and other innovations like BAT's iFuse. There isn't a great deal of difference.

The other thing I have said dozens of times is that I love e-cigs for their habit of embarrassing tobacco control and showing up their methods as corrupt, mendacious and ineffective. That's the part of Bates's rant that I enjoyed because he does exactly that, ending with "Just leave us alone" (which is almost the same words as on my Twitter profile, coincidentally).

FTR I always check if what I write is compatible with what I believe in (freedom of choice, anti-regulation, pro-free markets), and Saturday's post passes the test.

Misty "It’s a sad thing to witness a once-valued champion of smokers’ rights going the way of so many smokers-turned-vapers and simperingly worshipping at the feet of anyone who mutters so much as a word of support for e-cigarettes, regardless of their previous credentials."

Nice hyperbole but devoid of truth. If someone says something sensible which fits in with the ethos of my blog, I'd be interested to write about it, whoever says it. If they say something stupid, I'll write that they have. I've written both praiseworthy and condemnatory articles about the same individuals before, so nothing has changed.

And as for "Sad, too, to see him leaping to the defence of his beloved Clive in these comments.", erm I'm defending my blog post, or is there some unwritten pro-choice article 5.3 type thing gong on that I've contravened. ;)

Pat "Jamaica. I still consider DP as a friend and so your words hurt even if I understand where they're coming from.

That dick turned vaper doesn't matter a jot as long as he doesn't become so enthused with them he forgets that junk science on ecigs comes from the same junk science on smoking."

Thanks Pat, same back to you :). Yes, of course I do, which is exactly why I love e-cigs, because they put a huge spotlight on the hypocrisy and dishonesty of tobacco control and prove categorically that, for many of them, it has never been about health.

Isn't that precisely what Bates is saying in that denouement? That many smokers have done what tobacco control told them to do ("the right thing" as in what TCI says is right, not necessarily what I think is right) but are still being hounded and should be left alone. How some think this now means I don't think smokers should be left alone too is baffling!

Monday, April 4, 2016 at 15:57 | Unregistered CommenterDick Puddlecote

I don't trust Bates. He's made our lives miserable and he would continue to do so. When he is as evangelical about leaving smokers alone to enjoy smoking as he about leaving vapers alone to enjoy vaping then I might start to see a different light about him.

I know your motives on fighting for Ecigs and that you think showing up the lies about vaping will show up the lies about smoking too but then that isn't what vapers (present company excepted) do.

They push the worst aspects of smoking, and trot out the crap on SHS as if it's true, for one reason only and that is to push ecigs on smokers or those with influence on smokers who can push them to vaping.

If you have clout with that movement, perhaps you could point that out at every opportunity and clamp down on this casual smokerphobia as a means of pushing ecigs.

Push them on their merit and not on what smokers should be doing in the opinions of vapers and smokerphobics like Clive Bates - because he is smokerphobic.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 13:52 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

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