The canonisation of Clive Bates, part two
Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 10:43
Simon Clark

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.

Article originally appeared on Simon Clark (
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