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« Police and criminals | Main | Evolution not revolution »

Plus ça change 

Travelling to Brussels today (although I am currently struggling to get to London because of "signalling problems").

Tomorrow we're hosting a small drinks party to mark the official launch of Forest EU.

Venue is The Staff 42, a smart bar restaurant just yards from the European Parliament.

By coincidence May 31 is also World No Tobacco Day and to mark the occasion the Brussels-based Smoke Free Partnership - whose members include ASH and Cancer Research UK - is organising its own event in the European Parliament.

Entitled 'Tobacco: A Threat to Development' it's a lunch reception and 'policy debate' hosted by Linda McAvan MEP, chairman of the European Parliament Development Committee.

Join us with high level speakers including Health Commissioner Andriukaitis and representatives of the WHO, the World Bank and international tobacco control advocates to discuss the importance of tobacco control to sustainable development.

However, unlike the Forest party, which has an open door policy, the Smoke Free Partnership 'debate' is far less welcoming.

Please note: the tobacco industry and those representing tobacco industry interests are not invited, in accordance with the Article 5.3 FCTC. All registrations will be screened.

Inevitably perhaps this is the response Forest EU director Guillaume Perigois got after he applied to attend the event:

We regret to inform you that we are unable to confirm your registration to World No Tobacco Day 2017 Policy debate. Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us by replying to this email.

Naturally Guillaume replied (as suggested) in order get a more detailed explanation for his exclusion - and five days later he's still waiting for a response.

So instead of lunch with Linda McAvan and her chums Guillaume will have to settle for drinks with like-minded supporters of individual freedom (and a handful of curious observers), which is some consolation I suppose.

It does however demonstrate what we're up against - a wilful refusal by tobacco control advocates and their allies in government to engage with anyone who doesn't cling to the current anti-tobacco orthodoxy

This is nothing new, of course. Older readers may recall a meeting I attended in Brussels in March 2008. Hosted by DG Sanco (now DG Sante) it was described as a meeting of "EU experts, civil society and social partners to support the Commission's Impact Assessment on the forthcoming initiative on smoke-free environments".

There were approximately 20 people present including representatives of tobacco control and Big Pharma and it kicked off soon as the meeting began.

One of the leading anti-smoking activists present immediately singled me out and said that unless I was removed from the meeting she would leave. Others nodded their heads in agreement.

The most shameful thing though was not the behaviour of the tobacco control zealots (which I half expected) but the response of every other person around the table who looked sheepish and said nothing to support me.

Rarely have I witnessed anything so spineless or self-interested and the experience (which I actually quite enjoyed) has driven me on ever since.

You can read the full account here.

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Reader Comments (2)

What's there to debate with a bunch of fascists and mercenaries? I see that in your 2008 article you mention the Pfizer guy wasn't happy...lots of billions in fines paid and people killed (through Chantix at the very least) since then. Wonder how happy he would be to meet you now...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at 15:13 | Unregistered CommenterVlad

Sadly no surprise, tobacco controllers eschew dissent and loath democratic process and transparency. If the let you or any one the view as an enemy in there will be proof of their corrupt practices and malicious intent. Beyond that, they might have to address data that questions or invalidates their ideology and world view. Cults can't handle that type of potential threat to their internal cohesion. The real tragedy is that governments allow these abuses to occur!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at 21:02 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

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