Stanton Glantz Interviews Wiel Maessen

The following is a partial transcript of a telephone interview of Wiel Maessen, the President of Forces Netherlands and President of Forces International, by Stanton Glantz and an assistant earlier this year. If necessary, I’ll edit this post to make corrections. I’ll comment on it later.

Ass: We wanted to get your perspective on the smoking laws in the Netherlands.

WM: First of all you should know something about my background. I have a background of science and statistics, so I am able to interpret any science that comes out on the subject. One of the main things that happened here in Holland was that we effectively broke the information monopoly by the anti-tobacco lobby, not only for the media but also in politics. Until 2007 – 2008 the only information the media and politics got was from the anti-tobacco lobby, and I think we effectively managed to break that so that the other side became known, and also the criticism of the information from the anti-tobacco lobby became known to the media, to the public, and to the politicians. That was one of the major things that happened there, I think.

SG: So – this is Stanton Glantz – we’d like to get your perspective on the history of the issue as it evolved, particularly the smoking law which has been under debate for the last few years in Holland.

WM: Well, first of all, that smoking law was set up very shoddily, and it was vulnerable to law suits. It was very badly written, and it gave our lawyers all possibilities to fight it. And our judge’s verdict was that we are right in many cases. So that was one of the main things. The opposition already started in 2007 when three smokers’ rights organisations started an action against the smoking ban which was planned to go into effect in 2008. We campaigned, collected 100,000 signatures against the smoking ban, and that was achieved by doing some quite interesting things like a ship going all through Holland visiting cities, city centres, bars, sent in petition lists, gave them to the bar owners, asked them to get them signed by their customers, and that brought up those 100,000 signatures, which is pretty much for Dutch circumstances. The signatures were real signatures, so there were no digitally collected ones, and it generated a carpet with the size of 300 square metres of signatures. All the paper rolled out in the parliamentary buildings was a great view for the press, and they made pictures of it, and it was very impressive. So that’s one of the things. It all originated in smokers’ rights organisations, not at the bar owners themselves. The bar owners themselves were joining later when the same smokers’ rights organisations started a website and started to collect bar owners and ask them to pay 250 euros per year to help us fight it in a legal sense in a political way.

SG: Can you give us any idea how many bar owners made that requested contribution?

WM: Some 1200 out of 5000 concerned.

SG: Was that the major source of financing for the litigation?

WM: Yes. I paid a bit out of my own pocket. In fact, I paid for the advertising campaign myself. I’m a millionaire, you know, so I can do that.

SG: Are you really a millionaire, or are you just..?

WM: I’m a multimillionaire.

Ass: OK, I’m going to stop the recording… [pause]

SG: So you mentioned that there were several smokers’ rights groups formed a few years ago.

WM: Well, mine started already 11 years ago, so I am on the file already for 11 years. I know everything about it.

SG: Can you tell us a little about the history of the other ones, when they were formed, who formed them, how and why?

Ass: Just to make clear, yours is Forces. That’s the one when you’re talking about ‘mine’.

WM: That’s right. I’m president of Forces Netherlands. And now also president of Forces International. And the other one is out of the old SmokePeace group, which was a pan-European group set up by the tobacco industry. But money that went in there has nothing to do with our fight, because it was quite another organisation. And the third one was a political party called Party Against the Nanny State, and that’s pretty unoperational at the moment.

SG: And when was that created, and who created it?

WM: That was 5 years ago or something. It was a grass roots organisation like Forces is too.

Ass: Was it a European level one or a country level political party?

WM: A country level one.

Ass: Were these in coalition with KHO?

WM: Well, not really a coalition. They just supplied the people who did the organisation of it all, and there were also some independents involved.

SG: Can you explain a bit more. I don’t understand.

WM: Yes. What don’t you understand?

SG: Just how the organisations were formed and how they related to each other.

WM: They knew each other for quite some time, because of course on the internet there are many contacts. There is a very large network of smokers who are fighting smoking bans, and that is not only nationally but also internationally. So you see many people coming back on the internet on several places, and there you organise yourself, and set up the organisations. At this moment our actions are already having effect in the rest of Europe because we are now really connected to organisations in the UK, in the Middle East, in Belgium, in France, in Germany. It’s one big network, and it’s gaining strength every day.

SG: You mentioned in terms of the lawsuits that you prevailed in some of them. But my understanding is that ultimately you lost at the supreme court. Is that correct?

WM: Yes, but the lawsuits did not end yet. Because there are two waiting in the queue for the final verdicts. One is on the criminal law side, and the other in the administrative law side. One is about the competition aspects of smoking bans. The other is a verdict on ventilation as a solution.

SG: And how are those different from the the cases the supreme court has already ruled on?

[Discussion of lawsuits].

SG: And then there was an article, an exposé, was that the name of it?

Ass: Gideonsbind?

WM: That was an obscure article. One that was not really correct. The title above the article didn’t cover the contents of the article. They had only proven that one of those smokers rights organisations, that they received money from the tobacco industry, but they concluded in the title that the bar owners organisations were the ones that received the money, but that was not true. There never went any cent to the bar owners. They all paid themselves, or I did.

SG: If you leave aside the headline, which is often written by someone different from the one who wrote the article. If you look at the substance of the article itself were there any errors in that, or was the reporting in the article accurate as far as it went?

WM: I don’t remember that there was anything that was not true…

[discussion of article]

WM: I’ve worked on the article. I also received the journalist talking with me. And what I discovered was that they really were trying to prove that the tobacco industry was behind this opposition, and that’s the tactic I now see that you are trying to achieve.

SG: No. No. The comments you made were critical of the headline. And I’ve certainly seen lots of headlines which didn’t quite fit with the article they were headlining. The thing we’re interested in … is there anything in the article itself that you think was inaccurate ..?

WM: I don’t remember that there was anything in the real article that was not right. But there was no news in it…

[Discussion of relationships between organisations]

Ass: The minister of health has recently granted an exemption for bars 70 metres squared and under that are owner or family-run. Has Save The Small Bars been involved in lobbying for that exemptions?

WM: Of course. I already said that our fight was both on the legal side and on the political side. We are happy that after the last elections there is a real classical liberal government right now which is very ideologically based and says that people have the right to run their business as they think they should do it. So we have a majority in parliament right now. We are not even happy with the current exemption. We want more and will be fighting further on that. So nationally and internationally we are very busy on that. I have all my time for myself, don’t work any more, so I haven’t really pushed at all.

SG: Do you have anything more you’d want to say about the current government or the current health minister. Have you had any direct relations with the current government or the current health minister?

WM: I spoke with her one or two times in the past 7 years, and I know she already proposed, in 2004 or 2005, that there should be an exemption for the small bars, because it’s quite different how bars act in Holland compared with the US. Here they are culturally very important. They are like livingrooms of neighbourhoods where people meet, where lonesome people meet and find partners. And that’s a very important social role of these bars, and especially the mom-and-pop bars. So these smoking bans cause a lot of damage on the social side, and on the emotional side, and on the psychological side, and on the financial side. And that’s what was never really balanced with the public health gains that were said to be gained by it, like for instance those heart attacks that would suddenly stop. That’s really laughable. And we now could show politicians after the RAND report that was brought out last month that these studies were really fake, and not real science. And even the Dutch EPA lost credibility now. So we can show them now that there is another side to the public health propaganda, and that’s very important.

SG: Do you have anything you want to tell us about the former Health Minister, Klink?

WM: He was not really someone who was very good on the topic itself. He was I believe a financial expert. So he really was pushed by his civil servants. But this [new] health minister is very good on the file, she knows everything on it, so she won’t be influenced by the civil servants that in their own respect are influenced by the anti-tobacco lobby very much, and go to international conferences that are sponsored by Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and so they are under the influence of the pharmaceutical industry, and that’s what we have explained to the politicians as well. So the credibility of public health is getting at stake right now.

Ass: Can you spell the name of the organisation which came out with the report you mentioned?

WM: RAND  corporation. A pan-US study on the effects of smoking bans on admissions for AMIs, and they really had control groups that knocked down all those studies that were done by your boss, Mr Glantz, and his followers. And this really shows that there is totally no effect. And the RIVM (the Dutch EPA) had on the request of the former minister also looked at all those studies because we had told that to the politicians that these were faked. We gave them all the criticisms of Michael Siegel, and even the RIVM showed up to not be independent, especially because the main guy who is responsible for those reports on Tobacco Control is a member of the WHO’s top rank, and so he’s not really independent, and that’s clear now for politics as well….

Ass: When I went to the Save the Small Bars website it looked like … it was asking small bars to submit claims regarding economic loss.

WM: That’s a second foundation that’s set up, and I’m also on the board of that. That when the two high court law suits are verdicted in our favour then we call all bar owners to submit their losses that they got through the smoking ban and sue the government to pay them money for that.

SG: And what is the status of that?

WM: We are waiting for the last verdicts, and then we can proceed.

SG: That’s everything we could think of. Is there anything else that you think we should have asked you but we didn’t?

WM: No. Just know that the opposition is really growing fast quickly right now in Europe and that I’m on the board of another organisation called the International Coalition against Prohibition which is an umbrella organisation that is now organising all those smaller organisations worldwide from Hawaii to Canada, US, Europe, Middle East, and we’re together now making a fist and there will be a next conference – a third one – organised this year where all forces will be joined.

SG: OK. Well thank you for your time and we appreciate you talking to us.

About Frank Davis

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26 Responses to Stanton Glantz Interviews Wiel Maessen

  1. Frank Davis says:

    I guess that the principal response of mine to this was that I don’t think I could have talked to Stanton Glantz – because I hate these people too much, and I see myself as being at war with them. To me it’s a bit like General Gerd von Rundstedt phoning up Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and saying:
    GVR: “Hello. Gerd here. We’ve been wondering when and where you’re going to invade Europe. Have you any thoughts on it that you’d like to share with us?”
    BM: “Well, we’ve got lots of ideas, but a landing at Calais is a possibility.”
    GVR: “When?”
    BM: “Probably April 1 of next year. Or the year after.”
    GVR: “April 1? You’re pulling my leg, aren’t you?”
    BM: “What, who me?”
    My other response is that maybe you have to be a multimillionaire to fight these bastards. And on the English side of the Channel, we haven’t got any millionaires on our side (that I know of).

    P.S. Wiel has now read this, and hasn’t pointed out any glaring errors.

  2. Iro Cyr says:

    I am curious as to why Stanton Glantz wanted to interview Weil. I am also curious as to how and where he reported or will report this interview and what twist he gave or will give it. I don’t understand the motivation behind it. What was he trying to accomplish?

  3. Mag says:

    This is from an article that someone linked to a few threads ago. There were only a few comments to the article over a number of days. But then “Alice” made an appearance. Alice at one point describes herself as “I am a loving sweet experienced intelligent giving Grandmother Mom and community activist ex smoker and I contribute enormously to my community especially by being an appropriate role model for those who are struggling with this terrible disease.”

    Sit back and “enjoy” Alice’s wonderland.
    http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/10/13/give-mom-a-cigarette-break/

    • churchmouse says:

      ‘Community activist’ — i.e. organiser (like the people at the front lines of OWS) — says it all. As does anyone describing themselves with accolades such as ‘loving’ and ‘sweet’. Those are words other people use — we would hope — to describe us.

  4. Walt says:

    I think I heard the audio of the full interview at the time it took place. Seemed to me that Glantz was trying to get exact battle plan info on how he (and his gang) had been thwarted in order to be able to counter or preempt it the next time out. Though I can understand the impulse to wrestle with the bear, especially when you’ve already mat-pinned his mates, I still wondered why Weil was so forthcoming. Keeping in mind that Glantz and his ilk are actually (if you count government grants) multi-billionaires.

    Still wonder.

    • Brigitte says:

      Seemed to me that Glantz was trying to get exact battle plan info on how he (and his gang) had been thwarted in order to be able to counter or preempt it the next time out.
      It would seem that the Anti-smoking lobby always works this way. Anti-smokers lurk in every discussion forum of smoker’s sites for several reasons, the most important appearing to be the disruption of a group of like-minded people forming by the regurgitation of their list of insults. Whilst this might put one or two smokers off commenting, it also fuels their personal anger in real life.
      Will tobacco control try and push for extending the smoking ban? I have no doubt about it.

  5. Gregster says:

    Interesting that impetus for the Dutch ban came from civil servants, just like in the UK. You’ve got to begin to wonder if there are backhanders flying around.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Bill Clintons presidency suceeded in that too! On Bills last day as El Presidente he signed an executive order to make all his former appointees and their selected highered help ”FULL TIME CAREER CIVIL SERVANTS” where otherwise Bush 2 would have removed them thru the spoils system! Hense why they were already in HHS,NIH,CDC etc……..

      • churchmouse says:

        And another Clinton-era development: Hillary made the White House 100% non-smoking, something, interestingly, which Bush and Obama never reversed.

        Laura Bush wrote in her book (2010) that she smoked a few cigarettes now and then upstairs when things got stressful. She said she was pretty sure that most First Ladies did.

        Michelle is an anti. So, for those wondering how they should vote in 2012, definitely not for Democrats. The rest? We’ll have to see …

      • smokervoter says:

        Michelle is an anti. So, for those wondering how they should vote in 2012, definitely not for Democrats.

        I concur with that 100% and that has been the case ever since the Clinton era. When she banned smoking at the White House it was the shot heard around the world in terms of the War on Smokers.

        The two parties lined up on opposites sides on smoking legislation and it’s remained that way to this day.

        If two-thirds of all likely-voting smokers pledged to boycott the Democrats it would deliver a 20 million strong bloc to the Republicans. The Repubs could then quit chewing their fingernails over the latino vote. If Black and Latino smokers joined the boycott (and ¡como no?) it would really spell trouble for the nanny Dem’s.

        Of course the Republicans would then be expected to purge their ranks of all its Anti’s, and I do mean all of them.

        • Frank Davis says:

          When she banned smoking at the White House it was the shot heard around the world in terms of the War on Smokers.

          It was a shot that I heard. It’s pretty much the only thing I know about her. Or rather, it’s the only thing I ever remember about her. Or maybe the only thing I want to know about her.

          But from what you say, at least in the USA there are two sides. Here all the parties are on the same side in this matter, and in almost every other matter (as we will be seeing on Monday when they all vote to not have an EU Referendum).

      • smokervoter says:

        Frank, at least you have the UKIP alternative over there. Eurosceptics and smokers alike have a place to go other than LibLabCon with them. I hope they move into third place. If the EU eventually goes kaput, won’t they gain strength?

        Many of the smoking ban policy statements on their website date back to 2008 but I found this quote with a dateline of March 20, 2011:

        “UKIP leader and smoker, Nigel Farage said today: “Our puritan political class want us to stop smoking completely.

        “As a smoker who believes in personal liberty, I think these purse-lipped restriction merchants need to be told where to go. On behalf of the 12 million British smokers, I’ll be happy to tell the puritans were to go.”

        I would join any USA political party whose leader had this attitude in a heartbeat. None of ours, not Ron Paul, nor even the Libertarians are this bold.

  6. harleyrider1978 says:

    Glantz isnt stupid,illogical but not stupid. Theres always a point behind the madness and theyve been caught in their madness and exposed! Glantz knows as anyone who pushes an agenda that it eventually meets its doom as prohibition did and all the other agendass!

    I particularly liked this part:

    There is a very large network of smokers who are fighting smoking bans, and that is not only nationally but also internationally. So you see many people coming back on the internet on several places, and there you organise yourself, and set up the organisations. At this moment our actions are already having effect in the rest of Europe because we are now really connected to organisations in the UK, in the Middle East, in Belgium, in France, in Germany. It’s one big network, and it’s gaining strength every day.

    Though we werent mentioned by name,we were all mentioned as a fighting body!

    That explains why the likes of Gene Borio and his ilk cruise the internet days and weeks after a comments debate to post again! To try and do damage control. But what Ive seen is theyve given up the debate on the junk science and more push charachter assasination as their tactic of choise,not just the normal oh they work for BIG TOBACCO! Then weve got the VICTIMOLOGISTS that show up and present their personal tragedys to gain emotional backing”normally just another prohibitionist comming in out of thin air to add sentimental support to their loss or whatever other tobacco related tragedy they may come up with.

    We know these advocates sit in wait on their local stories or national stories to try and defend their agenda,they have too! Otherwise their world will crumble as has always happened before!

    Tomorro will be no diferent,they know its comming and the sooner the better for all of us!

  7. smokervoter says:

    On the first read-through of this, it seemed as if the obnoxious Mr. Glantz had mellowed somewhat and even had something of a guilty epiphany over the worldwide hate campaign he’d created.

    Then it dawned on me that a sociopath is incapable of such changes. This is field marshal Glantz on a reconnaissance mission and nothing more.

  8. Junican says:

    The number of questions that Glantz asked about ‘contacts’, ‘organisations’ and ‘funding’ suggests to me that he was looking for Tobacco Industry cash. I think that this little exchange says a lot:

    “”SG: Can you give us any idea how many bar owners made that requested contribution?

    WM: Some 1200 out of 5000 concerned.

    SG: Was that the major source of financing for the litigation?

    WM: Yes. I paid a bit out of my own pocket. In fact, I paid for the advertising campaign myself. I’m a millionaire, you know, so I can do that.

    SG: Are you really a millionaire, or are you just..?

    WM: I’m a multimillionaire.””

    I think that the above sort of blew Glantz away.
    As Frank says, it is a real pity that no seriously wealthy individuals have taken up the challenge. By that I mean by funding actual ‘research into the research’ rather than donations. I am also thinking of full page adverts in newspapers calling attention to the junk science.- something to wake up the politicians. That sort of thing.

  9. timbone says:

    Yes Junican, my feelings exactly. Glantz wanted to find out if there was tobacco funding. He most likely thought there was, (maybe still does), and is trying to set up a target, ie opposition to smoke bans from the man in the street. He wants organisations like Forces to be tobacco front groups so that he can attack them.

  10. harleyrider1978 says:

    Food Industry Fight Mimics War Against Big Tobacco
    By Crystal Phend, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today
    Published: October 21, 2011
    Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor
    University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

    The public health battle against obesity may be taking a cue from the states’ victory against the tobacco industry more than a decade ago.

    “The more you look at the modern food industry, the more it looks like the tobacco industry,” Stanton Glantz, PhD, director of the University of California San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, explains in this exclusive video report.

    Predatory marketing to children and products designed to maximize profits despite known adverse health impacts were what sparked legal action by 46 states against the major U.S. tobacco companies. It culminated in the Master Settlement Agreement in 1998, whichrequires the tobacco companies to pay $206 billion dollars to the states over 25 years.
    Now public health agencies and advocacy groups are fighting similar tactics by food companies, Glantz told MedPage Today senior staff writer Crystal Phend.
    Attempts to sue the food companies haven’t been successful so far, but “there are definitely people thinking about it,” noted Glantz, a key anti-tobacco advocate and researcher who helped publish tobacco industry insider documents in 1995.
    Other strategies adapted from the anti-tobacco playbook have had greater success, such as menu labeling, he points out.
    But if the tobacco fight is any guide, Glantz warned, working to improve the food landscape is going to take sustained and aggressive action.

    http://www.medpagetoday.com/PrimaryCare/PreventiveCare/29169?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyHeadlines&utm_source=WC&eun=g235779d0r&userid=235779&email=mmcbakken@yahoo.com&userid=235779&mu_id=

    • Rose says:

      Crumbs, you can’t look away for a second.

      Usual suspects.

      How the Food Makers Captured Our Brains

      “As head of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. David A. Kessler served two presidents and battled Congress and Big Tobacco. But the Harvard-educated pediatrician discovered he was helpless against the forces of a chocolate chip cookie.”

      “During his time at the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Kessler maintained a high profile, streamlining the agency, pushing for faster approval of drugs and overseeing the creation of the standardized nutrition label on food packaging. But Dr. Kessler is perhaps best known for his efforts to investigate and regulate the tobacco industry, and his accusation that cigarette makers intentionally manipulated nicotine content to make their products more addictive.

      In “The End of Overeating,” Dr. Kessler finds some similarities in the food industry, which has combined and created foods in a way that taps into our brain circuitry and stimulates our desire for more.

      When it comes to stimulating our brains, Dr. Kessler noted, individual ingredients aren’t particularly potent. But by combining fats, sugar and salt in innumerable ways, food makers have essentially tapped into the brain’s reward system, creating a feedback loop that stimulates our desire to eat and leaves us wanting more and more even when we’re full.

      Dr. Kessler isn’t convinced that food makers fully understand the neuroscience of the forces they have unleashed, but food companies certainly understand human behavior, taste preferences and desire. In fact, he offers descriptions of how restaurants and food makers manipulate ingredients to reach the aptly named “bliss point.”
      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/health/23well.html

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    GREEN: Curtains for Cap’n Crunch
    Food nannies to banish colorful cartoon characters from cereal boxes

    Say goodbye to Tony the Tiger and the Jolly Green Giant. Consumer mafia groups want cartoons, images and even celebrities that might appeal to children banned from food advertising – even if the ads are actually aimed at parents.

    The advertising censors insist children need to be protected from the food industry because parents aren’t up to the task. Thus they created the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children (IWG). Under the pretext of getting chubby cherubs into shape, sympathetic Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, and then-Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, slipped language into the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act mandating the creation of the IWG to develop recommendations for standards for industry marketing to children under age 17 – even though there is little credible evidence linking marketing trends and childhood obesity. The congressional charter lends the group legitimacy.

    After missing a 2010 deadline to report back, the IWG released a preview of the “voluntary” nutrition principles that they want industry to adopt, and they were radical. In addition to trying to exile the Pillsbury Doughboy, it proposes nutritional requirements that would prohibit the advertising of 88 of the 100 most commonly consumed foods, including bagels, 2 percent milk, peanut butter, canned tuna, carrot juice, ready-to-eat cereals (except for unflavored shredded wheat), leaf salad with low-fat dressing, hot cereal, canned corn, rice, wheat bread, pretzels and scrambled eggs, according to the Sensible Food Policy Coalition.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/oct/14/curtains-for-capn-crunch/

    Its getting very very sad in a kids life!

  12. Lou says:

    WM isn’t a fool and knows perfectly well that any publicity is excellent. In this he’s talking to an audience way beyond the borders of The Netherlands and the crux is it’s down to individuals, especially those with most to lose. His point about reams of paper, genuine signatures (thus no chance of manipulating e-petitions) and milking the photo opportinities that presented is sobering. Had our small businesses bowled up with 300,000 signatures at No. 10 in May 2010 (a similar achievement to their 100,000), even Sky would have been there.

    Perhaps David West (he with £100m to his name who hired Mrs. Blair to see if there was any way round the smoking ban for clubs in 2007) might have taken a different approach had he seen what can be achieved by direct action. Ditto F2C. Ditto the then chairman of Swallow hotels (who hired a lawyer in 2006 to see if he could set up smoking clubs after the Scottish smoking ban).

    However, credit where due, Britain did it very well by spacing the bans and blanket media coverage. And they still depend heavily on that principle. Clearly the Welsh will not impose a ban on smoking in cars with kids in isolation, so they’ll set it up for 2015 or such, giving the Scots, Irish and English parliaments the time and the precedent to pass legislation that’ll coincide. Sort of Round Robin stuff.

    WM works under a completely different set of political, economic and social values. We’re nowhere close, with first past the post, tied pubs, media ownership, a tendency to defer to authority and we never developed the mentality that evolved within Holland whilst occupied in WW2.

    While not shouted out loud, the Dutch have a very healthy respect for their traditions and – most crucially – a distinct understanding of the free market. Once it became obvious that thousands would go bust, the vast majority of ordinary people grasped the full implications very quickly indeed. Here it’s the opposite with far too many voicing their delight in the demise of so many pubs. That they don’t begin to see the cause and effect is partly because no one has taken the time to explain the inter relationship and how, in the end, it affects them too. (How does one begin to get across that we’ve got 20% VAT because of reduced tax takes elsewhere in the system)?

    The glaring weakness of the smoking ban has always been the inclusion of the self employed in a law designed to protect employees. We have never really concentrated on that aspect of the legislation because the most outspoken critics are consumers or they employ others. WM did and there’s every probability that the Belgians, and possibly the Germans, will end up with legislation that’s not a world away from the Netherlands.

    If that’s the payoff, then one repugnant interview is a small price to pay.

  13. Bill Gibson says:

    Lou, I have sympathy and in many ways agree with you but hindsight is a wonderful thing. I was very involved in the Swallow Hotels attempt to raise a Court Action against the Scottish Government, but when that Government stoops so low as to present a veiled threat directly to the CEO then the battle takes on a different perspective.

    Having sat in at various meetings, one in particular springs to mind that as far as finance was concerned a budget of 4 million pounds would have been needed to take a full case through the Courts all the way to Europe. Having said that with 12 million smokers in the UK … a pound from each of you and the funds would have been available to take on 3 cases such as Nick Hogan, Hamish Howitt and Tony Blows.

    But, as we witness across the land, even smokers apologise for their habit unlike in Europe where they take to the streets and openly show their anger. There is still opportunities to turn things around but only you, the smoker or me the supportive non-smoker can make it happen and until everyone wakes up to the fact that they must get away from the keyboard and be active at grass-root level then, and only then will victory be achieved.

    One glimmer of hope is an ongoing Legal Case in Northern Ireland currently on Appeal at the High Courts, I cannot ener into discussions at this time for legal reasons but there are interesting times ahead.

  14. Bill Gibson says:

    I will add that the case in Northern Ireland is unique, has been ongoing for 5 years, has been defended without lawyer involvement and as a result the Judiciary have taken on the services of a Government QC to represent them in the case !!!

    When the Appeal is upheld and the case goes forward for Judicial Review, this is the stage where real money will be required to back the case … so take note of my earlier comments regarding fund raising.

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