Is the UK government still serious about reducing smoking?
The lack of a tobacco control plan since 2015 could damage recent gains in reducing prevalence, Sophie Arie reports
On 20 May, the UK is set to take a huge stride in efforts to stop people smoking. It will become the second country in the world, after Australia, where cigarettes can be sold only in standardised, plain packaging.
Yet at the same time, concern is growing that the current government is letting other crucial tobacco control policies slip, policies that have greatly reduced the prevalence of smoking in recent years.
Since 1998, successive governments have put in place consecutive plans for tobacco control measures in England—from legislation and taxation to increasing public awareness of the harm caused by smoking and helping people to quit. Under those plans, smoking prevalence among adults has dropped by over a third, from 28% to under 18% in 2015. Smoking among young people fell from 11% in 1998 to 3% in 2014.2
Yet the last plan expired at the end of …
That’s all I’m allowed to read without a subscription to the BMJ. And I probably couldn’t get a subscription to it, even if I wanted one (which I don’t), because they almost certainly don’t want smokers like me polluting their pages with 18th hand smoke.
Anyway I certainly hope that the UK government isn’t serious about reducing smoking. I’m not sure that it ever has been, to be quite honest. It’s the cunts in the BMJ and the BMA and the RCP and the WHO who’re dead serious about it.
In fact, whenever I think about it, it always seems to me that the UK government most likely wants to quietly tiptoe away from the catastrophe that it has inflicted on the British people over the past ten years with all its antismoking legislation, which has been smashing society apart, bankrupting pubs and clubs, and doing unimaginable damage in countless other ways.
And there are indeed faint signs that it’s tiptoeing away, with first SmokeFree SouthWest being de-funded, and now SmokeFree NorthWest also de-funded, and no new Tobacco Control plan put in place to follow up on 17 previous years of such plans.
And there are some very good reasons why the UK government should be distancing itself from Tobacco Control. For the UK government is ultimately responsible to the British people, who can vote them into office, and also vote them out. They may have begun to realise, belatedly, that smokers like me are never, ever going to vote for the Labour party that introduced the smoking ban of 1 July 2007, nor the Liberal Democrat party that enthusiastically supported them, or any of the minority of Conservative MPs who also voted for the expulsion of smokers from society, as they were “exiled to the outdoors” by the smoking ban. For I’m never going to forgive them for what they did to me, and to about 15 million other British smokers.
The cunts in the BMA and RCP and WHO are accountable to nobody. Which is precisely the reason why they have become infested with antismokers and health freaks, with their mad plans for a smoke-free, alcohol-free, fat-free, sugar-free, salt-free world. They are organisations which may as well have been taken over by Indian gurus teaching Yogic Flying. In fact, it would have been much better for everybody if they had been. At least we’d all be flying around like birds if they had been. Shopping would be so much easier.
The BMJ can be quite open – and actually is quite open in the editorial above – about wanting “to stop people smoking”, because it’s not answerable to those people. But the UK government is answerable to them. And most likely this realisation has been slowly dawning on a few people in the UK government: they’ve alienated a lot of their own people. And it is ultimately the entire purpose of the UK government to represent the UK people. The UK government has no other purpose. And does it really want to lose not only its voters, but also its tobacco revenues?
Governments climb on these bandwagons from time to time, usually with a great fanfare of trumpets, and then quietly get back off a few years later. We watched David Cameron re-brand the Conservative party as a Green party, even changing its torch logo into a tree. He’s gone now, but he was already walking back from the “green crap” by the time he left office. And now, most likely, the government has begun to edge away from the zealots in Tobacco Control just like it has been edging away from the zealots in Climate Control, hoping that nobody will notice. And maybe they haven’t. It’s not being widely reported.
I think that the UK government may have begun to realise that there’s nothing “crucial” about Tobacco Control and its policies. They may even know the vandalistic exercise of “plain” packaging won’t be any sort of “huge stride” anywhere. They may even doubt the BMJ claim that adult smoking prevalence has fallen by a third as a consequence of previous measures, given that these numbers are being provided by Tobacco Control in its own defence.
Tobacco Control must be destroyed. It does far, far, far more harm than good. And it probably doesn’t do any good at all. And if its demolition will require the destruction of not only ASH but also the BMJ and the BMA and the RCP and the WHO, and all the other supportive foundations, then so be it. They sowed the wind. They will reap the whirlwind.