Wednesday, 8 March 2017

ASH Scotland: The Mouse That Squeaked ... Nearly

It is a little known fact that when Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) was formed in the early 1970s, it wasn't a result of a groundswell of popular anti-smoking opinion, quite the opposite. It wasn't even set up by ordinary citizens giving their time and energy for a cause they believed in.

Nope, ASH was created by the government's Chief Medical Officer of the time, George Godber, and was staffed at its launch by full time government employees. In fact, the only reason ASH was set up at all was because the voluntary anti-smoking lobby was negligible to the point of being almost invisible at the time (it still is), and therefore some in the government thought it a good idea to pay for one which could the lobby government for restrictions on smoking. And government has shovelled huge amounts of cash to prop ASH - and its satellite organisations in Scotland and Wales - up for the 40 odd years since. In short, they had to do this because an overwhelming majority of the public really couldn't give much of a shit about smoking either way.

It's fair to say that this is still the case, as ASH Scotland has found out today.

A Thunderclap is a Twitter effect whereby you gather supporters to a cause and a tweet will be sent out from their accounts at a synchronised time and date. ASH Scotland first tweeted to publicise theirs a fortnight ago.


However, to get your Thunderclap to work you have to gather a requisite number of supporters which - in this case - was 100. ASH Scotland tweeted a further 10 times to promote their big social media assault, including three tweets yesterday alone, but to no avail.


Yep, in two weeks, ASH Scotland failed to find even 100 supporters for their No Smoking Day Thunderclap despite repeatedly badgering its 2,400 followers on Twitter.

Compare this with a Thunderclap organised by unpaid (unlike ASH Scotland) vapers in advance of COP6 in Russia, which generated around 10,000 individual posts all with the #COP6 hashtag on October 12th 2014. So effective was this that it dominated the online conversation, drowned out any publicity the FCTC was hoping to create for its prohibitionist cockwaffle, and freaked out the FCTC so much that it arguably led to the social media blackout of the conference which then followed.

The public are largely unconcerned by smoking or smokers, as the spectacular apathy ASH Scotland's Thunderclap failure generated illustrates. Only 90 people (I say people in the loosest meaning of the word because most of their support would have been fellow tax-sponging 'public health' NGO Twitter accounts) could be bothered to lift a finger and make a few clicks of their mouse in support of ASH Scotland and No Smoking Day. Pitiful.

Not so much a Thunderclap then, more like a Clusterfuck.

In the budget today, Philip Hammond pledged to give an extra £2 billion to fund a big hole in social care, and raised National Insurance for the self-employed to help pay for perceived financial shortages in the NHS, both things that the public cares a lot about. Yet government still persists in throwing millions of the health budget every year at wasteful self-promoting organisations like ASH and the hundreds of local anti-smoking groups which replicate their same useless non-job, despite the public not giving a monkey's.

It's an appalling waste of money. The state should stop funding them.



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