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« Dear, oh dear, Cecilia, what have you done? | Main | Outdoor smoking bans: Tories in turmoil over creeping prohibition »

The ugly face of tobacco control

According to ASH:

Tobacco companies are notorious for the damage they cause to the environment through deforestation, pollution, and littering. Wood fires are needed for the process of drying tobacco leaves, leading to the loss of one tree for every 300 cigarettes. Greenhouse gases are released into the air when cigarettes are smoked, and heavy metals and toxic chemicals end up in the water supply from littered cigarette butts.

To highlight these claims the taxpayer-funded lobby group has launched what it calls its 'Polluter Pays Spring Campaign':

This spring ASH is running a campaign to coincide with the annual shareholders meetings of three of the largest tobacco companies in the world: Imperial Tobacco, British American Tobacco, and Philip Morris International. In line with the 'Polluter Pays Principle' we’re calling on governments to make Big Tobacco pay for the damage it does. Help us share this message over the next few months. We must #MakeThemPay.

Truth it, it won't be Big Tobacco that pays for any additional levies that are imposed on tobacco companies. As ASH knows full well, the stakeholder that will ultimately pay is the consumer. (Cue crocodile tears from tobacco control campaigners bemoaning the fact that more smokers are being pushed into poverty.)

Anyway, the first of the three shareholders' meetings ASH is targeting took place yesterday in Bristol, home of Imperial Brands. The trade press and business media have had plenty to say on the subject, mostly along the lines of 'Imperial Brands says on track to meet forecasts' (Reuters), but I've seen no mention of ASH's 'Polluter Pays' campaign.

What I did spot, late last night, was a series of tweets from anti-smoking campaigner Cecilia Farren who attended the meeting. Two in particular stood out.

The first read:

Attended Imperial Brands AGM. Imps staff + board outnumbered the 27 shareholders inc 2 anti-smokers!

Now, how many times have we been told that tobacco control activists are anti-smoking not anti-smoker? (They're on your side, remember, helping you quit the evil, addictive weed.)

Well, in what I can only describe as a Freudian slip, Warren has openly admitted that she is "anti-smoker".

But the comment that really demonstrated the ugly face of tobacco control was the catty tweet about the CEO of Imperial Brands:

I was shocked by how much older and more stressed Imperial Brands CEO, Alison Cooper, looked today at the Imps AGM. Must be the guilt wearing her down.


I can't say I'm surprised though. In December 2010 Farren appeared on the Today programme and accused the tobacco industry of conducting a "terror campaign".

In September 2007 she attempted to 'name and shame' me at a tobacco control conference in Edinburgh:

During the Q&A session in the main auditorium, Cecilia Farren, founder of GASP, a self-styled "smoke-free action website", got hold of the roving mike and asked that anyone associated with Big Tobacco should be invited to stand up for all to see. For some reason, she felt the need to name me personally, implying that I had somehow sneaked in to the conference and was lying low. In her words, "I have never known Simon Clark to be so quiet."

The paranoia of some anti-smoking campaigners never ceases to amaze. Needless to say I was more than happy to jump up and introduce myself to the 400 delegates (who were looking a bit bemused). I just wish they had asked me to address the conference from the stage!

I bumped into Cecilia later and thanked her for the "free publicity". She wasn't happy.

Three years later, after hearing her performance on the Today programme, I wrote:

She embarrassed fellow tobacco control campaigners that day and listening to her now I'm sure she's embarrassed a few more.

Leopards don't change their spots. Nor, it seems, does Cecilia Farren.

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Reader Comments (4)

Oh well, if we are allowed to be personal, then Cecilia Farren looks like a wrinkled rag with huge ears and no character. If that is what not smoking does to one's skin and demeanour, then gimmie another packet of smokes.

Yes, that is awful isn't it. I just wondered how she would feel if someone picked on her appearance. Perhaps because I am a woman like her, I am allowed to be a bitch about a fellow "sister".

She is clearly antismoker or more accurately, smokerphobic. What a vile woman who makes a nice little packet out of the tobacco issue and hate campaign she is running against people not the product. Of course she wants consumers to pay more. How would she be able to earn a few quid to support her business without us.

Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 13:45 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

First "slut shaming" and "fat shaming". Now, "old and haggard shaming".

Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 15:35 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Bagley

Wood fires are needed for the process of drying tobacco leaves, leading to the loss of one tree for every 300 cigarettes

Not since WW2 they haven't.

"Before this year, virtually all the flue-cured tobacco produced in North Carolina was cured in direct-fired curing barns. A burner that burns natural or propane gas is attached to each barn. This burner heats the air in the barn, curing the tobacco.

Tobacco was not always cured this way in North Carolina. Boyette said that before World War II wood was the preferred fuel for curing barns. A wood fire burned just outside the barn.The heat and combustion gases flowed through a flue, usually made of brick, that snaked across the floor of the barn, then rose up through the barn."

Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 16:31 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

Hah, going by your new post, hypocrital Farren is not against chopping down trees if it suits her personally.

Why don't people wake up to this awful arrogant hate monger who couldn't care less about anyone but herself... And she has the cheek to call smokers selfish.

Friday, February 9, 2018 at 10:48 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

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