The United Nation's World Health Organisation (WHO)'s 2005 Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is premised on the basic fact that there is an irreconcilable difference between the interests of the tobacco industry (producing and selling as much of a substance as possible, in order to maximise profit) and that of public health regulators (reducing the consumption of that same substance as much as possible, in order to minimise cancers and other negative health impacts). This piece of international law (to which the EU, and all member states, is a signatory) not only requires transparency around all contacts between public health policy-makers and the tobacco industry but requires that they are avoided and limited only to contacts that are strictly necessary to regulate the industry.
This report documents the experiences of some MEPs, their assistants, and political advisers, who have testified that the tobacco and electronic cigarette lobby are becoming more aggressive as the voting approaches.Erm, electronic cigarettes are not included in the FCTC for two rather obvious reasons. One, they are not tobacco products because they don't contain tobacco and, two, I'd be surprised if the WHO had even heard of e-cigs in 2005 as they were only invented in China a few months before.
The authors of the report are more than happy to conflate apples and oranges though, with the help of Irish Socialist MEP Paul Murphy.
Paul Murphy MEP explained that in the Parliament, MEPs “are subjected to a lot of astroturf campaigning in the sense that it is manufactured. We get emails from so-called ordinary constituents about electronic cigarettes. But they are really detailed about the Directive.”That's right, you don't actually exist.
If a constituent engages in democracy and has read up on the subject they are writing to an MEP about, they must surely be in the pay of some evil corporate body and will therefore be ignored.
‘Astroturf’ is the name given to seemingly grass roots campaigns, that have actually been established, encouraged and sometimes funded by companies and corporate lobby groups interested in their success. One MEP assistant told CEO: “They have organised online, created electronic cigarette forums. They’re quite an aggressive lobby”.They have 'organised' have they? Created their own forums and shared information? How very inconvenient for MEPs who just want to make up regulations without a clue as to how crashingly stupid they are, eh?
Best just dismiss all constituents who write in as corporate shills and carry on with the stupidity regardless.
Another said: “We get a lot of abuse on Twitter about calling for more legislation on electronic cigarettes.”The abuse is fully deserved if MEPs - such as Murphy and, presumably, the other lefty MEPs contacted for this report - are copping a deaf 'un to the views of ordinary people they were elected to listen to.
Totally Wicked, another UK electronic cigarette firm, sent every MEP an e-cigarette. One MEP commented incredulously that “They are sending addictive drugs to MEPs. It is quite incredible”. Jutta Haug MEP from the S&D said she had been “strongly lobbied by electronic cigarette users”. The rapporteur on the Tobacco Products Directive, Linda McAvan MEP, has also said that “There is a very aggressive attitude.”They have been strongly lobbied by users because when the TPD was first proposed, it illustrated how breathtakingly clueless MEPs were about e-cigs. That's the whole point of interaction between ivory tower politicians and the people they serve ... as a check on incredibly daft legislation being passed for the eventual benefit of no-one.
And to express faux outrage at e-cigs being sent to MEPs is laughable. It's a valid method of education considering only a tiny minority of MEPs had any idea they even existed until the letters began to flood in, so why not show them what they are and what they do?
The authors of this silly statist report declare on their website that they:
[Work] in close alliance with public interest groups and social movements in and outside Europe to develop alternatives to the dominance of corporate power.Which is very odd, because they don't seem remotely interested in other lobbying or 'corporate power', as discovered by Lithuanian journal Respublika and - surprise, surprise - involving rapporteur for the TPD (and most dangerous European alive today), the aforementioned Linda MacAvan MEP (Google translate tidied up).
Seeking for the adoption of necessary legal acts as soon as possible, pharmacists found influential politician in Europe and socialist David Harley who worked in the institutions of the European Parliament for more than 30 years and therefore is able to talk to and to discuss with almost all politicians of Brussels and high rank officers.
Harley became a public relations specialist after finishing his career as a eurobureaucrat and started working in the public relations agency “Burson-Marsteller”, Brussels branch, as a senior assistant.
In 2011, “Burson-Marsteller” declared that it received 8,755,000 Euros (30.2 billion Litas) from its clients for lobbying in Brussels. Some of the largest worldwide pharmacy companies, such as “Johnson&Johnson”, “Pfizer”, etc., supplying nicotine replacement products to the market, were among the most generous clients which allocated their funds to lobbying. In 2011, when discussions on the Tobacco Products Directive just started these two companies spent almost 2 million Euros (7 million Litas) for the lobbying in Brussels.
Not so long ago, Linda McAvan and Harley were two of the main political figures in the group of socialists of the European Parliament: one served as a vice-president and the other served as a secretary-general. They spent long hours together in meetings, discussions and travels for 12 years since 1998 after McAvan was elected to the European Parliament and to 2010 when D. Harley left politics and started working as a lobbyist.
Is it just a coincidence that today McAvan is active advocate of the interests of the main former colleague’s clients? She not only speaks against tobacco industry but also signed a letter hustling the European Commission to start activities beneficial for pharmacy companies and her signature can be found near the signatures of “Johnson&Johnson”, “Pfizer” and other large manufacturers of nicotine replacement products such as “GlaxoSmithKline”.Oh really?
Now, which lobbyists do you reckon would have more influence over the TPD? A few e-cig users writing to MEPs who are being routinely ignored by socialists? Or vast pharma companies paying a former socialist bureaucrat who is great friends with Linda MacAvan, the MEP charged with ushering the TPD through the EU ... complete with its restrictions on competitors to pharmaceutical harm reduction/cessation products?
Yet those right-on progressives at CEO, who are earnestly opposed to "corporate power", don't seem to be bothered about pharma lobbying at all.
Doesn't it explain a lot, though? The ridiculous continuation of the ban on wildly successful snus; the ignoring of responses to the public consultation; the desperate measures designed to destroy e-cigs; MacAvan's careful selection of evidence gatherer; and the appalling junk science presented to the ENVI committee kangaroo court.
I'd say there are many questions of MacAvan which require answering. Wouldn't you?