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Freedom To Choose Newsletters

April 2013

Sent: 30 April 2013

In this month's issue:

  • Message from the Chairman: Lively debate on plain packaging at University College, London.
  • No Friend of Freedom 2 Choose - a doctor lies about our funding
  • From the Archives: Smoke, Lies and the Nanny State - Joe Jackson
  • News in brief
  • F2C Articles and official Blog
  • Round the Blogs: Greece and Canada
  • The Last Word: on Puritanism


I have had a busy month with the media and trying to get our message across. Probably the highlight was BBC Radio 5 Live where I was on for 30 minutes.

However last night the 29 April I was at University College London for the debate "Introducing plain, standardised packaging of cigarettes is beneficial for the health of the nation?"

For the motion were Rt Hon Kevin Barron MP, and Professor Robert West, Professor of Health Psychology and Director of Tobacco Studies, UCL.
Against the motion were Ian Paisley Jnr MP, Junior Minister in the Office of the First Minister & deputy First Minister, Northern Ireland, and Claire Fox, Director, Institute of Ideas.

In the audience were also Deborah Arnott of ASH and Mark Littlewood of the IEA.

Barron and West's main gambit was that smoking was bad for you and offered very little in the way of evidence.
In the question and answer session - I will quote the exact words -"we don't have direct evidence" and even by their own figures the effect on youth smoking will be "tiny."

Ian Paisley Jnr majored on Prof West's statistics that were not worth a "hill of beans" and the £641 million lost in revenue from smuggling. Claire Fox spoke on freedom to choose. She also said that washing up bottles and washing powder come in pretty attractive packaging but don't make teenagers take up household chores!

A poll was done at the start of the debate and 76% were for plain packaging and 24% against.

After the debate the figures dropped to 66% vs. 34%. Clearly, some people saw the emperor was wearing no clothes.

It was a terrific debate, showing how bereft the anti smoker industry is of facts.


Dave Atherton
Chairman Freedom To Choose


An article in a recent anti-alcohol publication has perpetuated the lie that Freedom 2 Choose is funded by the Tobacco Industry.

The organisation, which has demanded that the Scottish booze industry drops its legal challenge to minimum pricing, published the document "The ‘(Ir)responsibility Deal’?: Public Health and Big Business" in preparation for a conference held on 15 April.

They introduce their publication by saying:

"SHAAP (Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems) and our member Royal Colleges have become increasingly aware that some tactics employed by the alcohol industry to subvert or circumvent legitimate public health policy interventions mirror those which have been used and continue to be employed by powerful operators in the tobacco and food industries. This happens in spite of the precedence given in domestic and EU law to the protection of human health over economic interests.

This seminar (15/04/13) at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh will bring together expert clinicians with experience of the alcohol, tobacco and food industries to launch a paper and discuss concerns with other key stakeholders, including health professionals and media representatives. This will serve as an important marker that health professionals are serious about challenging the dominance of ‘Big Business’ over public health interests. Our intention is to build a long term coalition over these issues.

It contains an essay "Tobacco and health – the last 60 years" written by Dr James Friend, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and retired Respiratory Physician.

His essay has a section "What has the tobacco industry been doing since 1950?" to which one of his answers is

"...Funding organisations such as FOREST( Freedom Organisation to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco), Freedom2Choose, and retailers’ organisations, to achieve ‘grass roots’ opposition to tobacco control..."

After strong protests and representations from the F2C Executive Committee, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh has recommended that the offending article is withdrawn and the matter investigated. We have been promised a full reply by 7 May.


Joe Jackson, pictured, wrote this excellent essay in April 2007.


This is still one of the best and clearest pieces of writing on the subject we have ever read. Below we give an extract.


This is one of the antismokers’ cleverest inventions. To say that a disease is ‘smoking-related’ is not the same as saying that it is directly caused by smoking, or that there is any actual proof of anything. It means simply that someone has decided that smoking may be a factor in that disease. Over the last couple of decades, more and more diseases have been added to the list, often with very little evidence. Heart disease was one of the first, even though it has something like 300 risk factors, and some major studies ...have shown not only that the link with smoking is weak, but that moderate smokers have less heart disease than nonsmokers...

The fact is that many statistics about smoking (and especially ‘secondhand’ smoke) are simply made up. For instance, until cervical cancer was recently proven to be caused by a virus, a completely random 13% of cases were attributed to smoking. Many of the estimates of smoking deaths are produced by one computer program. It’s called SAMMEC (Smoking Attributable Morbidity, Mortality, and Economic Cost) and depending on which data you feed in, and which you leave out, it can produce pretty much any number you want. The great thing about the ‘smoking-related disease,’ is that it allows you to create the perception of a raging epidemic. The UK government says that 100,000 or 120,000 deaths per year (depending on who is speaking at the time) are caused by ‘smoking-related disease’. The impression given is that these are all deaths specifically, and provably, caused by smoking, but it is no such thing. It includes nonsmokers who die of bronchitis or strokes, and smokers who die of heart attacks in their 80s. It includes people who quit smoking decades before. It is not exactly lying, but it is deliberately misleading, it is fearmongering, and in my opinion these people should be ashamed of themselves."

To read the full essay, thoroughly recommended, go here.


The lonely generation. A third of over 50s feel isolated and it's as bad for their health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Re-think over Blackpool parks smoking ban.

Pharma paid UK healthcare professionals £40 million in 2012.

Smuggling spike in cigarettes.

Illicit tobacco trade is up sharply, shows Morris survey.

Ireland. Pubs reeling as sales fall 32% in 5 years.




Can Smoking help Cardiac Arrhythmia? A guest post by Tanya, one of F2C's members. This article got an excellent response.

Second Hand Smoke = Fraudulent? - this looks at the ongoing Enstrom case.

The Smokers' Vote - in local council elections on 2 May.



An international flavour this month.

This Greek blogger, known only as "Keep Talking Greece", is an excellent and accurate source of information and opinions about that country.
This is a recent article of his: Scientists Confirm Austerity is Too Bad for Your Health.
Extract: "Unemployment, stress at work and depression are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases equal  to risk factors like smoking, lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits.

A radical Canadian physician, Susan Rosenthal, writes regularly and compassionately. Here she looks at some of the myths around smoking, and the real causes of ill-health. This recent article is called Smokescreens: How Working Kills Smokers.
Extract: "There is no question that smoking contributes to poor health. But to claim that smoking is the primary cause of preventable death and disease is one of the greatest scams in modern history."



“Puritanism - The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

H L Mencken



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