ASH Scotland will today publish an "ambitious and radical document outlining 33 recommendations for a new Scottish tobacco control strategy". We were tipped off yesterday afternoon which gave us just enough time to respond as follows:
SMOKERS LOBBY GROUP SLAMS ANTI-SMOKING INITIATIVE
Simon Clark, director of the smokers' lobby group Forest, has slammed an "ambitious and radical document outlining 33 recommendations for a new Scottish tobacco control strategy" and questioned the use of public money to fund anti-tobacco groups such as ASH Scotland.
Clark said: "The Scottish Government needs to review its tobacco control strategy but not in the way ASH Scotland has in mind.
"Smoking bans, display bans and other initiatives are designed not to educate but to denormalise smokers and make them feel embarrassed, guilty or worse. This is unacceptable and quite possibly counter-productive. Smokers are reaching for their fags in defiance and who can blame them?
"Having replaced education with coercion the tobacco control lobby needs to have a reality check because the way they are behaving is incompatible with a tolerant, liberal society.
"The public smoking ban was a hugely disproportionate response to the effects of second-hand smoke. There is no evidence that a tobacco display ban will reduce youth smoking rates and yet ASH Scotland wants the Government to go even further. Very soon they will be telling us what we can and can't do in our own homes and in the open air.
"Smokers make a huge financial contribution to the public purse and they have every right to consume a legal product without being harassed or stigmatised."
Clark also questioned the use of public money to fund ASH Scotland's anti-smoking activities.
"ASH Scotland is the tip of a huge tobacco control industry.
"In 2008-09 ASH Scotland received £921,837 from the Scottish Government. In December 2009 they received a further £500,000 grant from the Big Lottery to fund a three-year research project into smoke-free homes in Scotland.
"At a time when governments are reviewing public spending we would seriously question the use of public money to fund a group that employs almost three times as many staff as its sister organisation in England.
"How can that possibly be justified at a time when all taxpayers, smokers and non-smokers alike, are being asked to tighten their belts?"
The Scotsman has the story HERE.