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« Brought to book | Main | Whatever happened to the Smoke Free Arts campaign? »

The ugly face of science and health

H/T Dick Puddlecote for drawing this to my attention on Twitter.

It concerns esteemed musician Joe Jackson, friend of Forest, opponent of comprehensive smoking bans, author of the essay Smoke, Lies and the Nanny State (2007), and occasional commenter on this blog.

Unknown to me (before last night) one of Joe's songs (Steppin' Out) is currently being used on a TV ad which is described thus:

P&O Ferries new ad for 2017 sees an animated couple's plain and dull world filled with colour when they head off on a trip abroad.

After travelling across the water with P&O the pair enjoy some sightseeing and shopping for hats at a local market store.

Featuring such appropriate lyrics as ‘So tired of all the darkness in our lives’ and ‘Get into a car and drive. To the other side’, the understandable song choice for this advert is ‘Steppin’ Out’ by Joe Jackson.

Bizarrely someone called Carl Greatrex decided to make an issue of this and directed the following tweets to P&O:

"Extreme views"? Joe's comments about smoking (based on a lot of research) have always been rational, reasonable and well articulated. Judge for yourself – New York Times, Guardian, Spiked.

To suggest his music should be vetoed by an advertiser because of his views on smoking is extraordinary. What next? Should Radio 2 and other broadcasters refuse to play his music as well? (Oops, I'd better not give them ideas.)

Needless to say, within minutes of responding to his tweets Greatrex blocked me so I thought I'd check him out, beginning with his Twitter profile which reads:

Head of Innovation Adoption Yorkshire & Humber AHSN. Supporting the 5YFV & principles of the Accelerated Access Review.

AHSN stands for Academic Health and Science Network. The '5YFV' is NHS England's Five Year Forward View, and the Accelerated Access Review is a government project that "aims to speed up access to innovative drugs, devices and diagnostics for NHS patients".

Beyond that I discovered the following:

Carl first joined the [Yorkshire and Humber] AHSN in November 2015 as a Programme Manager supporting the Clinical Lead Medicine Optimisation on projects across the country with a focus on Yorkshire and Humber linking with the AHSN Network, Strategic Clinical Networks, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Acute Trusts and patients’ groups.

His new role will involve leading a number of projects promoting innovation as well as working across the organisation supporting other programmes focussed on safety and quality, strategic system support and delivering sustainability.

Carl has a wealth of experience both in the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS [my emphasis] including marketing, account management, project management and NHS strategy and policy across a number of disease areas including HIV, cardiovascular, respiratory and diabetes.

His project management roles have included a global project developing pricing and access strategies for emerging health economies and the use of new technologies to support customer engagement within the pharmaceutical industry.

I've posted the advertisement Greatrex objected to below. If he's genuinely suggesting Joe's music should be blacklisted by P&O because of his views on smoking (and smoking bans) that's a new one even to me.

Still, it's a valuable insight into the type of person currently employed by "health and science", someone (note) with a "wealth of experience both in the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS".

I note too that there's nothing on Greatrex's Twitter profile to suggest he is tweeting in a purely personal capacity. Far from it.

His profile states quite clearly who he works for and what his job title is. There's also a link to his employer's website and most of his tweets appear to be work-related.

The question therefore is this. Was Greatrex tweeting P&O in a personal capacity or was he representing Yorkshire & Humber AHSN? I think we should be told.

Update: He has now blocked me, Forest and (I believe) one or two others from reading his tweets. What a plonker.

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Reader Comments (15)

Bullying of smokers and their supporters is public health policy (it is called "denomalisation") so I imagine that he is just doing his job.

Many of us have seen this kind of discrimination coming for a long time - some of us have actively felt it at work and in looking for work. It is forced upon us in leisure (P&O has a lot to answer for in terms of how its treats it smoker customers) and in the health inequalities that have been created for us by people who don't want to "save" anyone. They just hate smokers.

Monday, January 9, 2017 at 12:15 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

He'd probably prefer P&O used a Smiths song

Monday, January 9, 2017 at 13:33 | Unregistered CommenterManx Gent

He's been well and truly de-normalised.

Monday, January 9, 2017 at 13:50 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

I think I'll be joining you soon on that blocked twitter list, Simon. McCarthyism is okay so long as you're denouncing smokers? That's just creepy.

Monday, January 9, 2017 at 14:14 | Unregistered CommenterChanah See

Obviously this man is a typical public health bully. Unfortunately i never meet these people face to face.

Monday, January 9, 2017 at 16:17 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy Goodacre

"Dear Carl,
Thank you for your submission. You are clearly a moon, so we will ignore your ludicrous demands"

Seek medical attention. You clearly need it.

P&O Ferries"

Monday, January 9, 2017 at 17:37 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I see the thought police are alive and well. Nothing like having totalitarians in government. Reminds me of the assault on the Hollywood Ten. Next they will create a smokers blacklist and like Dalton Trumbo smokers will need to hide their identity to get work. Sounds like the desire to suppress is back again.

Monday, January 9, 2017 at 19:40 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

Nothing new here.
Smokers have been legally discriminated against and bullied for years now.
It's acceptable in our current society.

I trust that Joe will remain professional about this and am sure he will.

I, for one, will never stoop to the anti's level no matter how many lies they repeat against me. I wouldn't care, but they haven't even met me yet still insist on describing a false picture of me.

At least I can sleep at night.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 0:20 | Unregistered CommenterHelen D

I boycotted P&O many years ago due to their treatment of smokers. My family did also even though they didn't smoke. They were appalled at the discrimination as they realised it was nothing to do with health.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 0:25 | Unregistered CommenterHelen D

One would assume that, for the sake of consistency, Mr. Greatrex has never once enjoyed a song by Bob Dylan, or the Beatles, or AC/DC, or (hell, this list could go on for a long time) any other filthy cigarette smoking musician, since to do so would obviously amount to a tacit approval of tobacco use.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 1:13 | Unregistered CommenterNate

All hail the Mighty Five Year Forward View! Forward comrades to
the Brave Future the nobody sane wants to live in.

What a sac...

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 7:16 | Unregistered CommenterMac the Knife

Having read a lot of his comments and articles, I would imagine that JJ couldn't give a twopenny f*ck what this nonentity thinks or says. This Greatex (or whatever his name is) tosser is just more of the same, and as such doesn't merit any reaction at all. Just another grey, joyless loser.

Where do they find them?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 19:14 | Unregistered Commenternisakiman

If Greatrex had claimed that 'Steppin Out' was infact about Jo's struggle to get onto the Smoking Deck of a P&O ferry, he might have made more impression on them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 10:00 | Unregistered CommenterThe Blocked Dwarf

Dear Mr Clark

Mr Gr8trex seems to have deleted the relevant tweets, so that counts as a direct hit against these anti-smoker thugs.

Onwards and upwards.


Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 21:05 | Unregistered CommenterDP

"Still, it's a valuable insight into the type of person currently employed by ‘health and science’, someone (note) with a 'wealth of experience both in the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS’.”

It is people like him who sit in committees deciding grants & resource allocation in Public Health research. It is people like him who are involved in the peer review process of medical journals in Public Health (more so in this joke of a journal called "Tobacco Control").

The broad public is not aware of how much the funding decisions by these loony puritans conditions and deforms science in Public Health. If a study happens to find anything remotely looking like a health benefit from smoking or sugar or some public health villain substance, the scientists knows it will not be published. This happens every day and has created a publication bias that favours the desired results of the fund providers (public money and pharmaceutics money). No wonder we have so much junk science and disinformation on tobacco, e-cigs, snus, alcohol, sugar, food, anything identified as a sin substance.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 3:51 | Unregistered CommenterRoberto

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