Smoking Bans KILL businesses- FACT !
WHO Director-General considers the tobacco endgame
Dr Margaret Chan
Director-General of the World Health Organization
Excellencies, honourable ministers, distinguished scientists, representatives of civil society, ladies and gentlemen,
I thank the government of India for hosting this International Conference on Public Health Priorities in the 21st Century, with its intriguing sub-title: the endgame for tobacco. WHO is proud to be the technical co-sponsor of this event.
Public health has very few opportunities to end threats to health in a definitive way. Most of our work is never-ending. Every new wave of babies needs to be immunized. Bednets wear out. Mainstay medicines develop resistance. One generation learns the importance of safe sex. The next generation forgets.
Disease eradication is one clear opportunity for a definitive end to a health threat. A tobacco endgame is another. Both have tremendous appeal. They promise to improve the world in a permanent way, offering every future generation the perpetual gift of freedom from major diseases. (Wrong-if 'major diseases', ie, malaria, TB, smallpox etc [other than tobacco addiction] are not eradicated then they will continue and will always be health threats!) [nb: Tobacco is NOT a disease-it is a naturally growing plant that an awful lt of people take a great deal of pleasure in smoking in one form or another!]
Speculation about a possible endgame for tobacco has been going on for at least a decade, often expressed as wishful what-if scenarios. For example, what if the tobacco industry simply did not exist?
Tobacco use claimed an estimated 100 million lives during the previous century. (Yet again, mere estimations-junk science at its worst. No proper refs/citations such as this 100 million deaths from tobacco in the last century. Now- who did that study? [Mdme Calment, a smoker, lived to the age of 122, it must have been her that compiled these wondrous figures!] When? what were the variables? Measurement tests? Controls etc?? We all know (does she, Chan?) that deaths that might be related to tobacco in some way were not measured or even thought about before the second half of the century). On current trends, tobacco use is projected to cause a billion deaths during the 21st century. Think of all the lives saved, the suffering avoided, and the costs averted if the tobacco industry simply ceased to exist.(PROJECTED! Think of a number and keep enlarging until it suits the purpose, that's all this is. The WHO computer has had a serious overdose of noughts! Chan is now going from the sublime to the ridiculous as governments, especially ours, are extremely concerned with the escalating welfare costs as our generations have the audacity to live longer with 12,640 centenarians recorded 2 years ago! Chan also fails to elaborate on the fact that tobacco related treatments cost the NHS £2.7bn per annum yet revenue from tobacco is 4 x's that amount. Chan also fails to introduce the fact that people that die earlier (pre 65 years of age) save governments fantastical amounts on money in pensions & a host of other care costs. Chan produces more & more of her fatuous statements as we go along.
Another argument goes like this. If all the harms caused by tobacco were known earlier on, tobacco products would never have been approved as safe for human consumption, could never have been marketed and sold like any other consumer product."If all the harms were known...." - what Chan means is that if all the illnesses (most of which had never been heard of back then) could have been attributed to tobacco, then tobacco could have been banned immediately Sir Walter Raliegh brought the plant into favour here! So, by that reckoning, if it had been known that the motor car would easily accomplish 20-40-70-100mph and kill people it would never have been allowed to go faster than the man walking in front of it waving red flag!
Is it really too late to correct this grave historical error? Could tobacco use somehow be eliminated through a brave new plan that responds, retrospectively, to a great mistake? Meaning, can an ideology overcome something that is now enjoyed by countless billions of people worldwide?
This wishful thinking first took the form of a concrete proposal three years ago, when the journal Tobacco Control published a paper about "Imagining things otherwise: new endgame ideas for tobacco control".
Concrete proposals expanded last year, when Tobacco Control issued a supplement devoted entirely to an exploration of tobacco endgames. Some striking proposals were put forward, as were some warnings and words of caution.
Ladies and gentlemen, Let me also offer some advice First, be very precise in your definition of what is meant by a tobacco endgame. We learned the importance of doing so when global goals were set for disease eradication or elimination. Progress towards any ambitious goal needs to be measured convincingly. Precise definitions help. ie, NOT the much favoured junk science which can enshrine any fanciful idea as a proven fact and should therefore be easily replicanble!
Second, anchor endgame strategies in impeccable science. About time methinks. Arguments for taking action need this water-tight support. Experience tells us that industry will challenge the science, distort the findings, or fund its own studies with a predictable bias. An impeccable scientific foundation is the best defence.Chan completely fails to mention that opposing forces have merely pointed out the truth of many of the skewed results, point out that many 'studies' are set up to produce the required results to suit their evil purposes. With it now proven that 80% of lung cancer are NOT attributable to smoking/smokers, Chan knows that their ersatz scientific scrabblings are falling well short of the mark!
Third, back up goals and strategies with solid feasibility studies. This is another lesson from the eradication experience. Totally honest scientific basis? this will probably be a first! Governments need to know what commitment to an ambitious goal really means in practical terms and what the likely pay-backs will be, for economies as well as societies. No, no, no Chan, you dare not go into the realms of costs & economies for the simple reason that the costs are astronomical-and this is where one of your great strategies comes completely unstuck because YOU have absolutely no idea what the cost is to each country and furthermore, you simp[ly don't care! Good feasibility studies build confidence, and confidence inspires commitment.You simply cannot produce a reasonable economic nor socially based study for they go hand in hand. Destroy the social aspect of any community and you automatically start to destroy the economic aspect as well.
Fourth, recognize the diversity of factors that drive the tobacco epidemic in different economic and cultural contexts. These contexts also create their own unique barriers to success. A diversity of endgame strategies, as opposed to a single global strategy, might be needed to accommodate these different contexts. Provision of a menu of strategic and policy options might be another wise way forward. It doesn't matter how you dress it up Chan, the more you try to eradicate tobacco the further into financial depression you will force each individual country. People are quite capable of growing and curing their own tobacco if they can be bothered-are you going to eradicate every single seed on the planet? "A diversity of endgame strategies... " in other words, you want to devise a plan/strategy that you think you will get away with in each country-yes? And how are you going to compensate the 4 million people that depend on tobacco growth/sales in Zimbabwe, never mind every other tobacco producing nation?
Fifth, be realistic. Your scientific programmes will consider how the drive for sustainable development and concern about NCDs can bolster support for tobacco endgames. Doing so is promising, yet also faces some challenges.
Concern about NCDs creates a receptive environment for tobacco endgames. Time and time again, ministers of health from the developing world have told me that prevention of NCDs must be the cornerstone of their response. The costs and demands of chronic and acute care are beyond their reach. Prevention is the best option.More fatuous statements as we have already blown the costs department out of the water above!
My reply: full implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control would deal the greatest single preventive blow to all of these diseases. Smoking is not a disease woman, cancer is a disease, diabetes is a disease, the common cold is a disease but none necessarily created through smoking!
A different situation exists in many wealthy countries, where effective control measures and changing social norms have seen smoking prevalence drop by 50% or more. In these countries, tobacco use is increasingly concentrated in sectors of society with lower levels of education, income, and engagement in the political process.
In other words, the very success of tobacco control has reduced the visibility of smoking as a problem demanding urgent attention. In some cases, obesity is now the most visible epidemic that needs to be stopped. So why do you not concentrate on all the fat people-like Eire health Minister James Reilly who seems to be engrossed in tobacco control-probably in order that his own fat predicament doesn't come under the spotlight!
Eire's 'healthy' Bunteresque-James ReillySuccess is always good, but must not be allowed to conceal the fact that the job of tobacco control is far from done. Making tobacco endgames part of overarching development strategies has great policy appeal. In rapidly growing parts of Asia, evidence suggests that the huge costs of NCDs can cancel out the benefits of economic gain. A tobacco endgame makes very good sense as a boost to both health and economic development.So when, if Chan is correct and no tobacco intake = longevity, what answer has she for countries that can no longer afford to maintain rapidly increasing numbers of centenarians? And can the families of all those that die at (say) less than 80 yrs of age then sue Chan/WHO for that relative not having lived as long as here predicted?
But what are the realistic chances of success? None! people that enjoy smoking will continue to enjoy smoking-end of!
I see two main barriers to success. First, most of the proposed endgame strategies depend on a strong capacity for regulatory control and enforcement. Throughout much of the developing world, this capacity simply does not exist at present.And why should it? People do not want to give up smoking just the same as they don't want to give up drinking or having sex or gardening - or all four at one! People are individuals, not robotic creations to be ruled by the likes of fanatics like you. Hitler was a fanatic and look what he did in his bunker-what are you going to do in yours?
Second, tobacco control requires cooperation from multiple sectors of government, from trade, finance, agriculture, education, law enforcement, and the judicial system. Unfortunately, many countries give more importance to tobacco as an issue for trade and commerce than as a severe threat to health. And this is exactly where your ideology falls flat because tobacco revenue is so great that countries cannot afford to terminate it on your say so. How can Zimbabwe put 4million people out of work because you say tobacco should be banned-does Paprika have the same selling power/financial impact as tobacco? I don't think so. Are Venezuela likely to wipe out some 40% of their export income just because you want to rid the world of tobacco? I don't think so. Do you seriously think that this country (a once great Britain) can afford to dismiss the £10-£11bn per year in revenue from tobacco? I don't think so. You continuously bang on about the supposed health issues of tobacco but you never mention the health issues of poverty, chronic depression, social exclusions, loneliness, comfort eating, lack of social cohesion, isolation, inadequte housing, lack of employment opportunities or the other hundreds of things far more important than whether someone enjoys a cigarette/pipe or whatever. Great men such as Churchill smoked, Bertrand Russell smoked-both far cleverer people than you will ever be-except, probably, in the art of duplicity!
The tobacco industry ruthlessly exploits this appeal to commercial interests, everywhere. The most recent example concerns efforts on the part of Philip Morris to sabotage the vote on a strong European Directive on tobacco.And you ruthlessly exploit people's fears! You never cease to employ the words "premature death", but what is a premature death? there is no such thing in actuality as no one is born with a date stamp on their person. It is a figment, a term used by the medical world by which they can instil fear into people. A child that dies at (say) 7hours old is said to have died prematurely but how do you knowif that particular child was only meant to live for 7 hours? You don't. You exploit the 'possible' dangers of tobacco yet never mention dire air pollution, much cused by the sheer volume of road traffic as you cannot be responsible for commerce to slow down or even cease. Strange also that you fail to mention that cancers have increased with industrialisation yet smoking rates have dramatically decreased since the late 1950's! Now just why is that Chan?
Industrialisation increases - cancers rapidly increase, yet smoking rates decreasing!
A massive army of lobbyists has been deployed to delay or block passage of the law until the European Council presidency moves to Greece, where the company has opened a huge hub for the production and distribution of cigarettes throughout Europe. Here, industry is counting on the historical pattern, where economic and commercial interests trump public health concerns time and time again. Such tactics give tobacco endgames further appeal as a strategy for putting industry out of business. They deserve it. Why do they deserve to be put out of business then? If people want to smoke they will smoke, simple as that-at least they are a bona fide` business whereas you most certainly are NOT! You are simply a collection of very fortunate people who are funded by every nation (to varying degrees depending on national wealth) to oversee health problems - not to sit in judgement over others who may choose to smoke, or have anal sex, or drink ten pints of beer per day, or cover themselves in tattoo's, or, only wash on Sundays. These are all personal preferences and you are seriously interfering with people's human rights; you are discriminating-which, apparently, is completely against EU law. And you have even managed to infiltrate legal systems to enforce your strategies, you can't get much more evil than that!
My last advice is this. Be careful. As I said, nearly all endgame proposals require a very high level of legislative and regulatory support. In most cases, this support goes beyond the capacities needed to implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Make sure that these proposals do not play straight into the hands of some long-standing and effective industry arguments, actually firing up the level of alarm. I am referring, in particular, to arguments that strong tobacco control measures represent interference of the Nanny State with personal liberties and freedom of choice.Which is exactly what they do! "Freedom of Choice" (?) That is a laugh because according to the 'Law of Chan', smokers should have no freedom of choice!
I am referring, too, to arguments that tobacco control interferes with trade and economic policies.
Expect well-orchestrated, well-funded, and aggressive resistance every step along the way. The WHO tobacco treaty has certainly experienced this resistance throughout its history, beginning with its inception. And for a very good reason. It threatens industry profits. It is not all about the tobacco giants profits you silly, silly woman, it is more about the millions of jobs that rely on this humble plant. It's about the world poverty she will create in her insistence on the eradication of tobacco, it's about the complete disregard for people's basic forms of enjoyment [their human rights], it's about nations financial abilities to exist-such is the might, the power of the humble tobacco plant. Can the World Health Organisation compensate every country for its financial losses once this plant is eradicated and can the World Health Organisation guarantee that cancer will be eradicated too?
Endgame strategies threaten the very existence of the tobacco industry. Anticipate a strong back-lash, including through the use of litigation.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have a final comment.Thank God for that!
Some tobacco control advocates argue that the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has likely done all it can. Dramatic drops in tobacco use have begun to level off, pointing to the need for some radically different approaches. In other words, and here we go again, "we need more investment"
I cannot entirely agree with this view. The treaty has been in force for less than a decade. Abundant evidence has demonstrated the impact of its provisions. The evidence is particularly strong for demand-reduction measures, and the evidence holds true for countries at all levels of development. To help countries implement the treaty, WHO has developed a practical, cost-effective way to scale up implementation of its provisions on the ground. These are the six highly effective measures for demand reduction set out in MPOWER.
A study published in the July issue of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization examined the impact on smoking-related deaths in 41 countries that adopted at least one highest-level MPOWER measure. In these countries, the estimated (yet again we rely on guesstimations!) number of smokers dropped by 14.8 million, averting a total of 7.4 million smoking-attributable deaths. (So are we to assume that 50% of the people who could have died, might or might not have been smokers-but it doesn't seem to matter whether they actually were or not just so long as the word 'attributable' can be attached somewhere/somehow?) This demonstrates the tremendous preventive impact of cost-effective measures for demand reduction. Actually, I think you'll find that this "demonstrates the tremendous amount of playing about with figures we can perform to suit our cause!"
Many endgame proposals attack the supply side of the tobacco epidemic, aiming for its roots. Governments now have an expanded range of options to consider, some with a proven track record, others with visionary policy appeal. Keep in mind that tobacco endgames will face the same two barriers to implementation that the tobacco treaty has faced. Namely, interference by the tobacco industry and its lobbies, and lack of legislative and regulatory capacity.And don't forget the ordinary people, you know the one's, they are the ones that are sick of your interferences with their pleasures!
Ladies and gentlemen the death clock keeps ticking, and the numbers keep growing faster every minute. Clever wordage, but that doesn't just apply to those who enjoy tobacco. Everyone is born to die, as you will one fine day and as I will on probably a rainy day. The human body is not built to last for all eternity but you make it sound as if it is. Perhaps you can explain why this lad suddenly dropped dead-fit as fiddle, non smoker, all the attributes of a budding centarian. Or this child who was born with cancer! Or perhaps you can explain the nine (9) members of one family who all died from various forms of cancer yet none of them ever smoked nor drank. Perhaps you can explain why all these non smoking human beings were 'blessed' with what you obviously determine as "the smokers disease"?
I understand, and share, the great sense of urgency, the impatience with the pace of progress, and the desire to seize the brave new promise of a tobacco endgame. The prospects for doing so are now being given the serious scientific scrutiny set out in the programme for this conference. I wish you every success.
Well at least it's a blessing that the 'scientific scrutiny' is now going to be serious because what has been presented so far might as well have been written on toilet paper!
So there you have it folks, the opening speech from Margaret Chan who doesn't really give a toss about your wealth, your employment prospects, your social life, your forms of enjoyment or much of anything else actually-just so long as you don't smoke. And if you do happen to enjoy the odd drag or two then she simply wants to hound you into oblivion-by fair means or foul! Remember one thing in all that is spouted by Chan/WHO-tobacco is a naturally growing plant..... IT IS NOT A DISEASE as she would have you believe.
Meet Mrs Hitler