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« Honouring Scotland's licensees | Main | Forest slams ASH Scotland's new anti-smoking drive »
Thursday
Oct212010

Taking (RAND) Europe to task

In their own immodest words RAND Europe is an "independent think tank that serves the public interest by improving policymaking and finding public-private solutions to shared problems". Hmmm, I think we'll be the judge of that.

Yesterday in Brussels I took part in a four-hour meeting that seriously questioned RAND's most recent report Measuring the Impacts of Revising the EU Tobacco Products Directive. If only the authors had been present!

Superficially impressive, the 345-page report was the target of fierce criticism from almost everyone in the room with the obvious exception of the EC officials who were chairing or recording our comments and were, nominally, impartial.

True, most of us represented some form of tobacco interest group from cigarette manufacturers to a German-based flavouring company but the message was clear: RAND had apparently ignored the acres of evidence sent to them by the groups represented at yesterday's meeting in favour of the evidence provided by the tobacco control lobby.

The most powerful criticism of the RAND report came from a representative of Philip Morris. I hope to have a copy later today and I will share some of it with you. Backed up with hard evidence, it was one of the most incisive - one might almost call it gripping - denunciations of a report I have ever heard, but hats off to all the companies and organisations present for fighting their corner. (There were around 20 of us in total.)

My own contribution was short and sweet. I criticised RAND's stakeholder engagement policy, pointing out that not a single consumer group had been contacted to participate in the report. (I told the meeting that a representative of RAND had been present when I had been asked to leave a previous meeting in Brussels in March 2008 so the company was well aware of Forest's existence and the fact that we wanted to play a full role in EU policy-making.)

I also criticised the scope of RAND's impact assessment which focussed on the impact of further tobacco regulations on health, economics and employment within the tobacco and retail sector but ignored other areas. I also objected to the fact that RAND talk about the "social cost of tobacco" as if this is entirely negative.

What is missing from the RAND report, I said, is an impact assessment of further regulations on adults who enjoy smoking and don't want to quit. What about the impact on their lifestyle? And why no assessment of the impact on people's freedom of choice or issues such as personal responsibility?

What the EU Directive amounts to, I said, is a campaign of denormalisation. What about an assessment of the impact of denormalisation on ordinary men and women who are committing no crime but are merely consuming a legal product?

I suggested that RAND should have conducted an impact assessment of tobacco control policies in Ireland. Ireland, I said, introduced the first comprehensive smoking ban in Europe, has the highest tobacco duties in Europe, and was one of the first countries to introduce a display ban. The result? Smoking rates have gone up!!

Anyway, it was a good meeting and everyone had an opportunity to make their points, which they duly did. Whether it changes anything, I have my doubts.

Reader Comments (15)

Of course not Simon, but thanks for having a go. Denormalisation came first - the smoking ban and all the rest followed to make denormalisation work. Our campaign should focus on this and we should be campaiging to make it illegal. Those who support should be prosecuted for hate crime.
It is an evil policy that starts from a stance of hate and stigmatises law abiding adults. Once it has done it's work and we are completely viewed as criminlas, we will be criminals. Criminalisation of smokers has already begun. There is already little sympahty for those who drop a cig end even though the truth is that it's like dropping a leaf and it does no harm. In wider public circles, there was little sympathy for law abiding Nick Hogan who fell foul of the law because he refused to denormalise his customers.

October 21, 2010 at 10:50 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Yes, thanks for flying the flag (once again), Simon.

My God, though: is there ANY organisation out there - which Officialdom gives its ear to - which is NOT wholly corrupt ?

There's only one way to sum this up:

One Planet.

Two Worlds.............................(and the one is making war on the other).

October 21, 2010 at 12:18 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

“What about an assessment of the impact of denormalisation on ordinary men and women who are committing no crime but are merely consuming a legal product?”

Excellent point, Simon. The sanctimonious, pontificating dullards typically never consider the very considerable psychological and social damage they do. They promote irrational fear and hatred ad nauseam – State-sponsored bigotry – for “the cause”. Yet no-one is evaluating the consequences of this activity. It’s all been one-way “tobacco control” (anti-tobacco) traffic for the last three decades. Enough is enough!

October 21, 2010 at 12:56 | Unregistered CommenterMagnetic

I would like to add my thanks to Simon for fighting our corner in this seemingly endless struggle for the right to enjoy a cigarette socially in warmth and comfort.

We went away for a short break last weekend but it was spoiled by constantly having to go outside to smoke and endure the autumn chill - little to no shelter was provided by this hotel chain - beggars belief!

However, it's now Thursday and I'm having to cope with a heavy cold which started the day we came home.

So...here we go again as the cold nights draw in - and I will be 'grounded' until Spring for the 4th Winter running!

Thank you once again for all your hard work - from a very grateful reader.

October 21, 2010 at 13:12 | Unregistered CommenterPensioner Ellie

Reference, to the the Spanish Smoking Ban I think this one will be very hard to enforce ( because of people power) they will all stick together like Greece. I will say however after speaking about this to a couple of bar owners in Fuertentura,the Canary ilands can except or reject laws from Spain and the E.U you can still buy duty frees at U.K airports. But I do feel it will be only a matter of time when these countrys see that Smoking Ban's are "Economically" a Disaster. Gary

October 21, 2010 at 17:25 | Unregistered Commenterlisa symmons

Ellie - check THIS out. It's a list of smoking hotels in the UK.

Some hotels offer equal accommodation to smokers and non-smokers alike but on different floors. Others, like the one I stayed in recently, have better facilities for their non-smoking customers. My room had old and worn decor and a warning that the water wasn't drinkable from the tap. A plastic bottle of fresh water was provided for the kettle. My daughter's non-smoking room was more plush and had water safe to drink from the tap.

When denormalisation started ("smokers as malodorous") Gian Turci asked why an airport smoking room was not cleaned, he was told the management wanted it that way : "So that smoker's can see the filth they create."

There are other sites you can check out to find other hotels that welcome smokers both here and abroad. I often find they advertise as being "non-smoking throughout" but in the part where they ask if there is anything particular you want, I put smoking room and get one. Failing that, hang out of the window but watch out for cameras and never stay in B$B unless they provide smoking rooms as the owners will fine you.

October 21, 2010 at 19:47 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Pat -

A brilliant little site - and only just in its infancy. May it grow and grow - and grow.

Many thanks for sharing !

October 21, 2010 at 21:28 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

BTW -

Rand Junior (sorry, 'Rand Europe') has a world-famous Daddy, of course: The RAND Corporation.

A classic example of the kind of people we're dealing with here surfaced back in 2008 - when Baby Bush was still in the White House - with the following little news item:

"According to reports out of top Chinese mainstream news outlets, the RAND Corporation recently presented a shocking proposal to the Pentagon in which it lobbied for a WAR to be started with A MAJOR FOREIGN POWER in an attempt to stimulate the American economy and prevent a recession..........RAND suggested that the $700 billion dollars that has been earmarked to bailout Wall Street and failing banks instead be used to finance a new war which would in turn re-invigorate the flagging stock markets."

In other words: "Hey, guys, we got a problem. Solution ? Go bomb some gooks !"

Or, in the familiar context of the American gangster flick:

"Sorry we had to wipe out your family, Tony. Nuttin' personal. It's just business........"

And we're supposed to LISTEN to people like this ?

Only two kinds of people would: Cretins..............and Psychopaths.

October 21, 2010 at 21:46 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Thanks for the link to that excellent article re the Spanish ban. Funnily enough, my wife mentioned this earlier, having read about it on an ex-pat forum. She said notice how it is 2nd January, to allow for New Year celebrations! The 'lefties' in the PR Spanish parliament have been trying to push this blanket ban for a while, with two failed attempts, 1st January 2010 and 26th June 2010. I am intrigued to see what happens on 2nd January 2011. Many Spaniards remember Franco (they have only been a democracy since 1977) even the civil war. They don't like dictats.

October 21, 2010 at 23:13 | Unregistered Commentertimbone

"Rather, the smoking ban is playing a particular political role. This is what the state can do these days: ban something. "

A beautifully concise analysis by Josie Appleton.

And what are all the power-to-the-people Lefties doing when it matters ? Why, sucking up to the elites.

Naturally...........................

October 22, 2010 at 10:12 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

You all miss the point. This ban is about control. The NWO is well on it's way. How many people 30 years ago would have believed a ban like this was possible? They spin and advance, people are stupid. It's only a matter of time before we are all chipped. No I hear you cry, just wait for the spin and missing kids that could of been found if chipped. This is all about the NWO and control. The boom was orchestrated the bust was orchestrated and so will the end of the dollar, wake up.

October 22, 2010 at 14:02 | Unregistered CommenterMathew

Watch this, all parts and learn.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-NBcQh7Hcg&feature=related

October 22, 2010 at 14:27 | Unregistered CommenterMathew

Mathew -

Please God, They don't seize control of the Internet. If that happens, we'll have lost both our eyes and our tongues (our most effective weapons).

That aside, take heart: the Slumbering Giant IS slowly waking up....................

October 22, 2010 at 22:18 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Mathew - the chipping is here already for dementia sufferers:

http://www.bjhcim.co.uk/news/2008/n806004.htm

It doesn't say what degree of mental capacity these people have but chipping is obviously going to be of greater use with those who don't have enough capacity to give informed consent!

October 22, 2010 at 23:24 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

And the NEXT time somebody says 'conspiracy theorist' (snicker, snicker).............................

October 23, 2010 at 0:02 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

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