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Monday, 28 September 2009

Holyrood Smoking Conference: Same old lies, same pack drill…

…no, I said Holyrood, Scotland, not Hollywood, US of A, or maybe you thought Bollywood?  Oh, I don’t know though, I can see a resemblance to all three!
On Wednesday the 23rd of September the great and the good of Tobacco Control in Scotland met at the Holyrood Smoking Conference organised by Holyrood Magazine at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Edinburgh.  The sub heading of this effete conference was:
Examining the impact and enforcement of the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill.
Freedom2Choose (Scotland) was represented in the audience, especially the question and answer session, as was Forest by their  irrepressible Director Simon Clarke.  Simon has his own account of that day, as published on his blog Taking Liberties, here is but a flavour:
Anti-tobacco speakers included Shona Robison MSP, minister for public health; Sheila Duffy, chief executive of ASH Scotland; Dr Laurence Gruer OBE, director of public health science, NHS Health Scotland; and Eamonn Rossi, chief executive of the Office of Tobacco Control in Ireland.
On the other side, however, we had John Drummond of the Scottish Grocers Federation; David McLetchie MSP, former leader of the Scottish Conservatives; and Patrick Basham of the Democracy Institute.
The result was an event that was far more balanced than anyone could have expected. (Credit here to broadcaster Mark Stephens who was chairing the event.)

 But he also said:
That's the positive spin on proceedings. The bad news is, on the eve of today's debate in the Scottish Parliament on the Tobacco & Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill, only three MSPs bothered to turn up. Exclude Robison and McLetchie, who were speaking, and the number of MSPs present can be counted on one finger.
Attending this fallacious, nay bogus, ‘conference’ is not cheap.
Still, Freedom2Choose (Scotland) rose to the occasion.  In particular about the myth (Tobacco Control’s) about ‘age restricted’ items being sold through vending machines and gave out leaflets whilst there:
Scottish Ministers and senior civil servants disregard the facts but are happy to make decisions that will put 60 Scottish citizens out of work and close 15 companies.
Public Health Minister Shona Robison and her Scottish Government officials have argued that:
“Given the very serious health risks associated with smoking, this is clearly unsatisfactory and we concluded that it is unacceptable for such a dangerous age-restricted product to be sold from a self-service machine.”
Health and Sport Committee convener Christine Grahame told The Scotsman:
"Most members also believe that cigarette vending machines should be banned, bringing them into line with other age-restricted products like alcohol."
Alcohol, lighters and aspirin are all legally vended through machines across Scotland. These products can pose significant health risks yet the Government is singling out tobacco vending machines and wants to ban them under the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Bill. As a consequence, 60 people in Scotland will lose their job and 15 companies will close down.
Cigarette vending machines account for just 0.8% of cigarette sales in Scotland. Banning them will have next to no effect on the issue of underage smoking.
The National Association of Cigarette Vending Machine Operators has invested in a new system to stop under 18s buying tobacco from our machines – anyone wanting to use our machines will have to prove their age and only then will they be allowed to a single purchase activated by a Radio Frequency Control system. This will stop young people accessing tobacco products and avoid losing jobs in Scotland.
Scottish Ministers have not considered this solution fairly and refused to even see it in action. MSPs are being asked to vote without knowing all the options.
As you can see Shona Robison MSP, Christine Graham and their cohorts at Tobacco Control are downright liars or totally inept in their positions  as ‘leaders’ of the people they were elected to govern.  So much so that Freedom2Choose (Scotland) want heads to roll for their lies and/or ineptitude, and they make no bones about it in their press release:

Minister Misleads Parliament and Should Resign

Freedom To Choose (Scotland) demands the resignation of the Minister for Public Health, Shona Robison, for blatantly misleading MSPs in the Health and Sport Committee in Stage 1 of the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Bill.

Here fucking here says I, now what about those deceivers elected to Westminster?


Pavlov's Cat said...

Was there nobody from the LVA or the Breweries.
or are they keeping their heads down, thinking any dissent will be punished by the anti-alcohol lobby ( I would imagine that there is considerable cross over in anycase).

Nice to see the Grocers turning up though.

Eddie Douthwaite said...

Before I comment on the conference itself I would like to thank F2C and Freedom To Choose(Scotland) who made it all possible by their joint funding of me as a delegate.

You will be pleased to know that F2C was mentioned by Sheila Duffy ( CEO of ASH Scotland) in her speech saying it was a " Pro Smoking " organisation. She even mentioned the website saying that members were being encouraged to go onto particular polls to influence the voting.

As the first person to comment on her speech I pointed out that F2C was a " Pro-Choice " organisation and also mentioned that Dave Goerlitz "The Winston Man" had become so disgusted with the Tobacco Control Movement that he would be working with F2C,Forces International and TICAP to expose the corruption in their movement. She didn't seem very happy at this point.

Now on to the best bit of all, Shona Robison the Minister for Public Health.Her speech was along the same lines as the evidence she gave to the Health & Sport Committee during the consultation process including the banning of cigarette vending machines. Unfortunately for the Minister the evidence she gave to the H & S Committee in relation to no other " age-restricted" products being sold in vending machines was wrong.

Representatives from NACMO had stated this at the conference before the Minister arrived for her short 25 minutes stay.

On completion of her speech I was the first person to question the Minister and told her that her evidence given to the H & S Committee with relation to the sale of "age-restricted" goods through vending machines was wrong as NACMO had stated earlier that Alcohol,cigarette lighters and aspirin were sold through vending machines.

I asked the Minister whether she would inform MSPs of this fact before or during the Stage 1 debate in the Scottish Parliament on the next day. She did not answer my question but merely gave reasons why the Bill should be supported.

It must have become very warm in the conference room when I asked my question because the Minister looked suddenly very flushed( or was she blushing?).

The one disappointment was that apart from David McLetchie MSP who attended as a speaker, and an excellent one if I may say so, was the absence of MSPs who may have learned something before voting on Stage 1 of the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Bill the following day.

The need for " evidence " in support of a Bill does not seem to be important to the Scottish Government as speaker after speaker admitted that the evidence did not exist but that by introducing the various bans in the Bill the opportunity would arise to " create " such evidence.

I do not think that those delegates attending the conference to support the legislation expected such intense questioning of the policy and evidence relating to this Bill, in fact the absence of any input from them when pro-Bill speakers were under pressure was extremely noticeable.

Another disappointment was the total absence of any media at the conference, but even without them the visibility of F2C and Freedom To Choose(Scotland) was enhanced by our presence.

Dick Puddlecote said...

"You will be pleased to know that F2C was mentioned by Sheila Duffy ( CEO of ASH Scotland) in her speech saying it was a " Pro Smoking " organisation. She even mentioned the website saying that members were being encouraged to go onto particular polls to influence the voting."

That's a bit rich considering ASH and their cohorts have a multitude of web-sites set up for the sole purpose of influencing voting on this very matter.

Here's one, for example.

Does this make Sheila Duffy a hypocritical fucktard? I think it does.

TheBigYin said...

@Eddie Douthwaite: Thank you for giving us a 'birds eye' view of the conference and the responses to your questions, It's hard to write about something when you have never been there.

@Dick Puddlecote: You have pointed out all that F2C, and the writers on this blog, have known ever since this despicable smoking ban came into being, both in Scotland and England. Just look for the words CONTROL and TOBACCO whenever you come across a 'debate' or 'conference' about smoking, drinking or what you eat and you will inevitably see a New Puritan that wants to curb our lifestyle choices. It is time, now, to not mince our words with these people, they cannot be appeased (it was tried once before, remember?)

Anonymous said...

Superb work by everyone involved.
Great fp and blog, also.
Was it just one big sham by those on the other side, because it certainly sounds like it!!

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