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Wednesday, 17 November 2010

IS THE ANTI-TOBACCO INDUSTRY'S OUTRAGE JUSTIFIED?

There is much ado these days in the anti-smoker industry about the Federal Government’s decision to suspend the plan for new health warnings on cigarette packages. The outrage of the various anti-tobacco industry representatives has been largely covered by all major newspapers in Canada. The general public’s opinion leans more in favor of the government’s decision than the anti-smokers groups, if we judge by the comments of the posters in the different newspaper forums. Most commentators feel that wasting money on new health warnings when those present already cover 50% of the packages and are plenty explicit, is not a good idea. Keeping in mind that since it is the consumers who already absorbed the millions it cost for the research of these labels and who will ultimately absorb the costs of the tobacco industry’s obligation to change the packages, many are asking for proof that they will work before further millions, public or private, are injected in what they feel is only another piece of useless “straw-man” legislation.

The core argument of the anti-tobacco groups is that from a leader in anti-tobacco policies, Canada has now fallen to 15th when it comes to health warnings. This can easily bring to mind images of some sort of nanny-state Olympics or anti-smoker Oscar Night celebration. Indeed there is just such an awards event: From page 10 of the Report of The Framework Convention Alliance.

The Bulletin also served as the podium for the daily conferring of the Orchid and Dirty Ashtray awards. The former award recognized individual or group of Parties that have made considerable strides in implementing the WHO FCTC since its conception, commendable country position, and/or playing a constructive role during the talks; while the Dirty Ashtray denounced those that played a negative role throughout the negotiations, or failed to meet the obligations of the WHO FCTC.

Never mind if the Canadian society cannot bare further regulation without indignation and revolt, oh the embarrassment if from one time “Orchid Award” winners our Canadian do-gooders ever get the much dreaded “Dirty Ashtray Award” !

For the highly paid anti-smokers who tour the world with our tax money to want to be champions in some global zealot competition, it is par for the course in conducting business to survive in the competitive market of anti-smoking activism. Governments are now slashing the anti-tobacco funding and our do-gooders are desperately struggling to gain back what they consider to be due to them. In our opinion, wanting to be 1st in anti-tobacco activism, is their way of standing out in their pursuit for more grants that will secure them another couple of years of prosperity at our expense in a society that has just about had enough of these insatiable do-gooders.

We are especially surprised that the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has actively pronounced itself in favour of the new health warnings. It is puzzling and alarming that the CMA finds it appropriate to condone the anti-smokers’ outrage and criticize the federal government who seem to be resolved to not give in to the pressure tactics currently being exerted. Perhaps the good doctors and representatives of the CMA have failed to take any notice of this article from one of their American peers, Health Agencies Boast of Dramatic Impact of New Cigarette Warning Labels

Excerpts:

Smokers are already aware of the harmful consequences of smoking and lack of knowledge of the health effects is not a significant factor in explaining why millions of Americans continue to smoke or why youths begin smoking. Research shows that warning labels have a limited impact on smoking behavior.

The real threat to the tobacco industry would have come from eliminating the warning labels on the packs, and thus opening up the companies to devastating lawsuits. Congress chose the weaker approach of requiring mildly stronger warning labels but completely immunizing the tobacco companies from any prospect of serious financial damage in future litigation.

And perhaps part of the answer for the CMA’s position can be found in the following article:

Excerpts:

(Pfizer) is currently on a very aggressive campaign to do more than sell drugs. It is staking out new territory and investing in innovative ways to influence the people who make decisions about healthcare.''
''it (Pfizer) has also established a new “partnership” with the Canadian Medical Association, which represents Canada’s 70,000 doctors who were recently on the receiving end of $780,000 new Pfizer dollars to help educate our physicians.''

We remind our readers that Pfizer just happens to be the maker of Champix and nicotine replacement therapies. Pfizer has a vested economic interest in this matter, and the actions of the anti-tobacco industry appear to be serving those economic interests.

The concept of “doing good” and turning a profit at the same time is one that we can accept in theory, as long as the “good” is being done in an honest, transparent and evidence-based manner. The anti-tobacco industry and the pharmaceutical industry appear very closely linked, and their consistent collaboration with one another is cause for concern. The position of the anti-tobacco industry with respect to the health warnings appears to be far more helpful to the pharmaceutical industry than to the people at large. The general public in this case are correct to follow their instinct and disbelieve the propaganda campaign of the anti-smoking industry and its financial supporters.

One of the most vocal groups against the US health warnings that are also making the news, is one of the largest e-cigarette communities, aka vapers, who are now standing tall beside smokers and their fight for truth, justice and evidence-based policy. They are now seeing clearly that the war against tobacco has turned into an ugly, out-of-control war against smokers and not only do they sympathize with the smokers in a compassionate way, but they are realizing that nothing will stop the zealots in their fight to eliminate electronic cigarettes on absolutely no evidence of harm to either the vapers or the bystanders. We are delighted to have their support on this particular issue.

Logic dictates that if the anti-tobacco industry were primarily concerned by the well-being of the people, they would abandon the wasteful campaign for additional health warnings and actively support truly effective alternatives to smoking, such as the e-cigarettes.

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