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« Whatever happened to the Smoke Free Arts campaign? | Main | It's a mystery »

Nick Hopkinson, Louise Ross, Linda Bauld, Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all

Today's Guardian reports:

More than 1,000 doctors, including heads of royal colleges and public health institutions, are calling on the prime minister to publish the latest tobacco control plan without delay.

In a letter to Theresa May, the senior doctors say the plan is essential to drive down smoking rates, which are highest and most damaging to health among the least well-off. The plan was due to be published last summer.

See Doctors urge Theresa May to publish anti-smoking strategy (Guardian).

The letter was coordinated by Dr Nicholas Hopkinson. “What we want is a smoke-free future,” he told the paper.

Support for mass media campaigns is needed, he says, as well as the continuation of policies on the cigarette pricing and tobacco smuggling. Spending on media campaigns in England has dropped in the past five years from just under £25m in 2009-10 to £5.3m in 2015, although evidence shows they help people quit.

“It is absolutely clear these interventions work. It is just keeping up the momentum and making sure there is a high priority to this,” he said. “There are 9 million smokers in the UK, and smoking is increasingly associated with inequality – it is quite a bit higher in the poorer parts of society.”

It didn't surprise me at all that Hopkinson was behind the letter. It's his modus operandi.

In February 2013 he was chief signatory to a letter in The Lancet that called on healthcare organisations to sever all links with PR companies lobbying on behalf of the tobacco industry.

A few months later he got 150 "health professionals" to sign a letter to the Telegraph demanding the introduction of plain packaging.

In May 2016 he wrote a letter that was reported as follows by the Observer:

More than 1,000 healthcare experts, including 57 professors, have signed an open letter calling on some of London’s most respected cultural institutions to abandon their financial links with big tobacco.

For some reason the Guardian didn't include a link to Hopkinson's latest letter but you can read it in full here (The need for a new Tobacco Control Plan: an issue of justice).

You can also read the full list of signatories. The Guardian, naturally, focussed on the fact that the letter had been signed by "more than 1,000 doctors, including heads of royal colleges and public health institutions".

In fact, a number of signatories are not doctors at all but long-term anti-smoking activists or researchers. Notably they include Deborah Arnott (ASH), Andrea Crossfield (Healthier Futures, formerly Smokefree North West) and Ailsa Rutter (Fresh, formerly Smokefree North East).

Other familiar names include Professors Anna Gilmore (University of Bath), Simon Capewell (Faculty of Public Health) and Anne McNeil and John Britton (both UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies).

Oh, and let's not forget those darlings of the vaping community, Linda Bauld (CRUK) and stop smoking service manager Louise Ross.

Frankly, the only person who's missing is Old Uncle Tom Cobley.

It's worth pointing out too that most if not all of the 1,000+ signatories are beneficiaries, in some way or another, of taxpayers' money so a more obvious example of government lobbying government is hard to find.

The question is, how does Nick Hopkinson do it? How does he get "more than 1,000 healthcare experts" to sign such letters?

Last year he ignored our polite request for information about his signature gathering methodology and today he responded to a similar query with the following tweet.

Naturally we responded with one or two of our own:

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Reader Comments (6)

Bullying the poor to save their own fat salaries.

Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 12:49 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

Don't you just tire of these interfering knobheads. Why can't they leave us alone?

Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 16:17 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy Goodacre

When tobacco controllers disingenuously feign concern about the cost burden of smoking on low-income people (a burden created by the tax increases for which they are constantly agitating), it is more slimy and dishonest than "Big Tobacco" ever was on its worst day.

Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 18:38 | Unregistered CommenterNate

So 1,000 imposters support a plan of controlling activities they disdain and they are all on the public dime... Their plan is no more than a blueprint for persecuting smokers

Well, some of us (actually quite a few) reject their call for a
smoke-free society.

Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 18:54 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

The Orwellian use of language - 'healthcare experts' for what in truth should be 'anti-smoking fanatics'...

Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 22:34 | Unregistered CommenterAna

Reading this article in the Guardian it’s clear that these people aren’t demanding to see the latest tobacco-control strategy because they want to know what the Government is proposing to do. What they actually want to know is how much money they’re going to be promised in it – they give themselves away in this respect by shoehorning in a convenient little link to the way smoking rates (shock! horror!) rose after funding cuts in the States, but dropped again once (phew!) funding was restored. That’s their real concern. A “smoke free” future? Don’t make me laugh – they’d all be out of a job!

It starts to make me wish that the worst predictions of the pro-EU lobby will come to pass after Article 50 is triggered. I’m starting slightly to hope that it does create a worldwide financial meltdown; one so severe that governments around the world, including our own, simply won’t have any money for “extraneous” projects of any kind – anti-smoking or otherwise – and that public services will be pared back to the bone so tightly that only the most vital and essential of services, i.e. those which they are obliged by law to provide, e.g. schools, hospitals, the police, roads, defence, council housing, some social services, welfare for the genuinely needy, and public works such as sewage systems, street lighting and refuse collection, will be able to survive, and there simply won’t be any money left for anything else. I’m beginning to think that then, and only then, will we start to see these nasty, interfering, State-funded bullies withering on the vine as they rightly should have done many years ago, if we'd only had a Government - just one - with any sense of what's fair and reasonable and what's not.

It almost certainly won’t happen – Remainers have developed something of a penchant for doom-laden over-exaggeration over the last six months – but if it does, and it makes the government less inclined to throw money around on unpopular “causes” which are long past their sell-by dates, then that must surely make it a good thing that the Out vote pipped them at the post in June. We can but hope ....

Friday, January 6, 2017 at 2:04 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

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