twitter: @rolygate

The Tobacco Control Industry

Originally a random grouping of public health advocates who wanted to reduce the harm from smoking, the injection of huge amounts of cash changed tobacco control into an organised industry that can be referred to as the tobacco control industry or TCI. The funding sources vary according to country; in the USA, sources include MSA funding (see Master Settlement Agreement), tax diversions and pharmaceutical industry funding. In the EU, sources are principally government grants and the pharmaceutical industry. There is a quid pro quo for such funding and it is discussed later. Because of the enormous size of the MSA funds ($206bn until 2023), and a percentage being channelled into tobacco control, the TCI in America is very well funded and the effect is felt around the world.

The TCI had great success in helping to reduce smoking prevalence to somewhere around the 20% mark in many places, though the forcible and unpleasant methods used contrast starkly with the voluntary and far more successful method used in Sweden. However, now the one-fifth population barrier has been reached (or more correctly, the 20% Prevalence Rule, as these are not really the same thing), TC has become all but redundant. For several years now, smoking prevalence in countries such as the UK has reached a point at which it cannot be reduced further by any significant amount by any conventional means: more and more money is thrown at the problem, with zero effect because when the 20% barrier is reached, and if the Rule proper operates (see below), then nothing more can be achieved without substitution (THR).

Note that all recent reductions in smoking prevalence are clearly due to e-cigarette uptake. Because more than 11% of UK smokers are ecig users now,  1.5 million plus at Q4 2013 (Q2 2015 update: >16%, >2.6 million), and because a proportion have transitioned fully and are now non-smokers (Q2 2015: >1 million [7]), e-cigarettes are responsible for virtually all reductions in smoking prevalence in the UK from about 2010 onward. Indeed, it is likely that without ecigs, smoking prevalence would have seen a slight increase.

At 2015, we can see from the Smoking Toolkit longitudinal study [7] that the reduction in the number of smokers due to the switch to e-cigarettes is over 1% and rising. In the USA, 5% of the fall in cigarette sales is being attributed to the e-cigarette effect. In Denmark cigarette sales have fallen 11% and this is being attributed in part to e-cigarette uptake.

The 20% Prevalence Rule

Notwithstanding the debate about whether this barrier is a rule, law, principle or simply an empirical fact; or whether it is at 20% or some other close level such as 22% (since its wider recognition has occurred contemporaneously with widescale use of a significant confounder, the e-cigarette, which has made exact measurement difficult); or how exactly prevalence should be measured (by the 'past month', 'daily smoker', 'half-pack plus daily' methods or otherwise): the fact is that once smoking prevalence is reduced to about one-fifth of the adult population down from about half of the population, as is common in Western countries, it cannot be significantly reduced further by conventional methods such as the usual tobacco control projects. The only proven method of significant prevalence reduction thereafter is a population-level consumer move to safer consumer alternatives to cigarettes, which is termed substitution or THR. (These points have been made by CV Phillips for many years and the attribution should be recognised.)

The existence of the 20% barrier, and the impossibility of major prevalence reductions thereafter by conventional means, and the success of THR in breaking the barrier easily, are all denied strenuously by the TCI; in fact this is a core value in their belief system. This is understandable since by definition it means their job is over and they could retire (or be dismissed). It has been difficult for them to continue denial lately, though, since the evidence is everywhere. The Swedish experience is the proof of the second part of the rule; and in addition, proof that public health benefits massively, with no observable negatives. National health statistics are irrefutable facts after all: they are, presumably, what everyone is working to improve (or should be).

The 20% barrier may have been observed by the more astute (or honest) members of TC, but perhaps not by the footsoldiers; despite zero possibility of any further significant reduction in smoking prevalence, more personnel are coming into the TCI and needing gainful employment, and calls for yet more and more money become ever more strident. In terms of the concept of 'the date of guilty knowledge', this in essence is fraud.

UK figures
Smoking prevalence remained static in the UK for the 5 years from 2008/9 to 2013. This is because the prevalence drop stalls out at a certain point, which we know to be around 20% for developed western countries such as those in Europe. However, because the size of the UK population is rising strongly, any 20% grouping naturally grows in size. Because of this, the actual number of smokers in the UK increased in those five years, probably by about 0.5 million.

Therefore we know that:

  • Allocating funds to tobacco control once the 20% prevalence point is reached is a pointless waste of money, since prevalence cannot be reduced further by these methods
  • Spending £200m a year on UK NHS smoking cessation services is not only a pointless waste of money but approaches criminal fraud, since there are major commercial beneficiaries, very few successful cessations, a minuscule success rate, and no visible effect on overall smoking prevalence; and a far, far more effective method used in Sweden at zero cost, which everyone in power knows about
  • Despite the immense waste of taxpayers' money on these useless measures that provide the pharmaceutical industry with giant profits and keep people employed in worthless jobs, the number of smokers in the UK rose for a time - until the ecig effect began to work

Tobacco control: a redundant industry

Since the TCI is no longer needed, one might expect the industry to shrink and activity to quieten down; most personnel could gratefully retire from the coalface and find other employment. Not so; instead, even more come into the industry, and calls for yet more money to fix a problem that cannot be fixed by tobacco control become ever louder. An apparently inexhaustible source of funds exists; so more people come into the industry, more work is needed, and the prospect of the industry shrinking has receded over the horizon: it can only get bigger.

The problem now is that there is no more work for them to do: no further significant reduction in smoking prevalence can be be effected; we have moved to Stage 2, where the job needs to be handed over to THR. But of course no one walks out on a job that pays $500k a year; they fight with tooth and claw to hang onto it. The only more useless waste of taxpayer's money at this point is the money spent on pharmaceutical interventions for smoking cessation, which are about 1,000 times less effective than THR for saving life (THR can effect a 1% annual shrinkage in smoking prevalence, but the best any state-run service such as the NHS pharmaceutical intervention-based smoking cessation services can do is about a 0.001% annual reduction) [4].

Any reduction in smoking prevalence since 2010 can be ascribed to THR products gaining in popularity; tobacco control stopped working some years ago, and the stats appear to show this was around 2008. Over 16% of smokers had switched to e-cigarettes in the UK at Q2 2015, with similar figures in other countries, and the number steadily rises. Robert West's figures show that in 2013, 3% of successful smoking cessations in the UK were due to ecig use, and this number will rise year by year. It appears that smoking prevalence might actually have risen were it not for ecigs; we know that the actual number of UK smokers has risen by around 0.5m (because the size of a 20% population group rises with population growth). However West's 2013 figures hint that ecig use will now start to bring smoking prevalence down; ecig use will gradually replace smoking and climb to its first landmark point when 25% of smokers will have switched: certainly by 2020, and probably earlier. Another way to see the effect of e-cigarettes is to look at the falling volume in 'stick' sales (cigarettes).

[The above sidebar was written in 2013, and the stats are now much clearer in Q3 2015: all measurable smoking prevalence reduction in the UK is due to the switch to vaping. There are approaching 3 million vapers and over 1 million have quit smoking. By any measure these are fabulous numbers, especially compared with the now-useless conventional tobacco control methods.]

UK smoking prevalence graph
The graph below is derived from ONS data. Such figures cannot be described as agreed on by everyone, or possibly even accurate, since there are at least three such sets of figures available for the UK from official sources such as different government departments, the OECD and the EU, and none agree with each other. In addition, there are multiple ways to derive such information (e.g. by a 'representative' sample and multiplying up), multiple ways to define what is meant by a smoker (for example by the 'past month' or 'daily' methods), and different ways to present the figures graphically. In short, smoking prevalence figures are perhaps best thought of as an estimate.

However, what they appear good at presenting is the general trend - and the trend is quite clear: smoking prevalence reduction stalled out at around the 20% mark and was stable around that level for years. The huge sums of money expended and the multiple actions taken over recent years have done precisely zero to reduce smoking in the UK.


Did vaping prevent a rise in smoking prevalence pre-2014?
There is an interesting anomaly here, because we know that a certain percentage of e-cigarette users were no longer smokers toward the end of this period. We don't know what that percentage was, but it cannot possibly have been less than 10%. There were more than 1.5 million ecig users in the UK at Q4 2013. It is impossible that less than 100,000 no longer smoked, at that time, and if the number of smokers in the UK was about 10 million, then this is about 1%. But: the ONS graph above tells us that smoking prevalence was static. Somewhere, then, we have a problem: how to explain static smoking prevalence when we know that it is being reduced by e-cigarette use.

There are several possibilities:
1. Perhaps the ONS figures are wrong. This is a possibility since every set of smoking prevalence stats is different - there are at least three different figures for the UK (from the ONS, the OECD, and the EU), which tends to indicate that such figures are essentially a 'best guess'. Other sources give a different result for UK smoking prevalence (their figure for 2012 - or perhaps estimate is a better word - varies between 19% and 21%). There are people who insist that smoking prevalence is below 20%, and this would accord with the known reduction from ecig use.

2. Perhaps the questions used to produce the figures were incorrect, in light of the new THR trends that market researchers may have been unaware of. In other words, perhaps they mixed in smokers with ecig users who are ex-smokers, by a poor choice of questions.

3. Perhaps smoking prevalence was actually rising at that time (as has been reported anecdotally for Scotland), and the rise in smoking prevalence was cancelled out by smokers switching to ecig use.

4. The UK population is rising strongly. Any 20% grouping will therefore grow in size. Because smoking prevalence is more or less static (small changes are hard to identify), it is therefore logical that the real number of smokers rose during the period 2008-2013. It looks as if the number of smokers in the UK rose by about half a million.
(You can do the calc easily: take 20% of the adult population and multiply it by the percentage population increase between 2008 and 2013. The only way this figure would not be valid is if the non-adult population size increased and the adult population size stayed stable; but since the immigration figure of ~350k/year is the main driver for UK pop growth, and the majority of immigrants are adults, and a percentage of immigrant children will achieve majority within a year or two of entry, this does not seem viable.)

The honest and ethical people departed

Most of the honest and ethical health advocates left tobacco control when it became obvious that the movement had become an industry, and that the industry agenda was becoming less and less related to public health: it began to promote unattainable goals that in any case involved as much harm as health benefit; it started to publish and promote lies instead of the science; and it gradually increased its highly questionable support for external sources that provided funds, to the detriment of the science base.

  • The professed goal and public agenda had become trying to achieve a tobacco-free world. This originally meant a smoking-free world; then quickly changed to a 'tobacco-free world' when it emerged that the Swedish experience showed smokers could simply move across to Snus and avoid almost all risk, which would put the TCI out of work. Then when e-cigarettes showed up, the enemy changed to nicotine, as it looked as if that was going to be even more problematic for TC: people could enjoy themselves at virtually zero risk. Now the goal is moving toward a 'nicotine-free world', probably the least sensible of all positions [1].
  • This is all about ideology rather than health (there have been suggestions that religion is also involved, which may be the case in America and the Middle East, but probably not to a significant degree elsewhere). If it is no longer about health (and clearly it isn't), then genuine public health advocates have no place in TC any longer. The problem for such people is (a) the very solid funding sources available within tobacco control, and (b) the risk involved in taking a position that is counter to the pharma agenda, since they control so much of the funding in the academic and research worlds. Universities don't like people who reject the pharma agenda, because pharma funds the unis.
  • The hidden agenda became protecting and promoting pharma, as they paid well but demanded results. Other funds came without strings attached, but pharma needed action. MSA funds, for example, are in theory not allowed to be used for lobbying; but if given to virtually any tobacco control / pharma front group, that is what they will be used for, as propaganda and lobbying are their core functions; nevertheless, no one has ever been prosecuted for misuse of MSA funds: they can be used as desired and apparently for any purpose.
  • The immense salaries (which have an effect very similar to heroin - difficult or impossible to relinquish, no matter the cost) and inexhaustible funding (which in the end leads to ownership of the funded body) [5] drove the final nail in the coffin, and any remaining ethics were buried; smokers can be legitimately prevented from seeking any solution other than those offered by the funders.
  • Luckily, protecting and promoting the pharmaceutical industry was a perfect fit: in the end, the agendas matched perfectly as working toward a tobacco-free world (no matter how illogical this is, since smoking causes the problems not tobacco) could involve a pro-pharma stance.
  • Pharma was happy because, not being fools, they knew it could never be achieved by TCI staff.

The situation now is that much TCI activity seems designed to protect the status quo. By adopting the pharma agenda of blocking THR, the TCI must preserve things as they are and resist any radical new solutions that will eliminate smoking. But since THR is now the only thing that will significantly cut smoking prevalence (and is proven to do so), blocking it in effect protects smoking. This is exactly what pharma wants but it is impossible to align this with a public health agenda (since millions of preventable deaths will occur if THR is blocked, as clearly stated by numerous respected professors of public health); thus, tobacco control is no longer about public health. Indeed, it is a major negative for public health.


'Public health' is now about protecting smoking
So now we have the reality of the situation: tobacco control works directly against public health. If something looks as if it may threaten cigarette sales, and thus threaten pharma's astronomically large income from the drug market for treating sick smokers, then TC will attempt to obtain legislation to block it. The best example of this is Snus, which reduced smoking prevalence in Sweden by about 50% (depending on which country it is measured against - there is a 64% reduction in male smoking prevalence in Sweden compared to the UK, @Q1 2013), with a parallel fall in morbidity and mortality: TC are the leaders in blocking wider Snus availability. Their attention has now been drawn to e-cigarettes, which must be blocked as the threat to pharmaceutical sales is even worse: a possible 60% reduction in smoking and smoking-related disease throughout most developed countries especially in the West - the largest regional source of pharma's income.

Looking at the UK we can see (as above) that male smoking prevalence in Sweden is 64% lower at Q1 2013. The Snus ban was introduced in 1991. It is inconceivable that less than 10% of UK smokers would have switched to Snus by now (probably many more). Therefore 10% of smoking deaths in Britain are due to the Snus ban. The tobacco control industry are responsible for 10,000 UK deaths per year (10% of the 100,000 a year reported to die from smoking-related disease). Only the cigarette industry kills more people for profit (although pharmacological iatrogenesis has some supporters in this area), so the TCI may possibly be the 2nd largest-scale killers in the UK. They are now trying to block e-cigarettes, a policy that will cause millions of deaths - probably something of a record for a 'public health' related industry [2].

Tobacco and pharma: it's all about the lies

In case you are a newcomer to the world of the smoking economy, here is a primer.

In the beginning, there was tobacco. Before the era of cigarettes, the scale of morbidity and mortality probably wasn't all that severe; maybe about on a par with travelling by sailing ship and stagecoach. After the introduction of cigarettes, things got a lot worse. Eventually it became just another consumer product, which meant it had to be marketed hard. The people making them eventually figured out two things: brand loyalty was a good thing; and with a product like the cigarette, it could be engineered to keep your customers loyal. Somewhere along the line, people realised that cigarettes are addictive and kill; but for some reason the tobacco industry didn't just smile and say, "Sure - but them's the breaks"; they denied it. They denied it so vociferously, for so long, that it became a bit of a problem when (a) it was proven, and (b) it was also proven they knew all along (since they left a convenient papertrail). You could say that management was grossly incompetent; or maybe it was just a good business decision, though not managed optimally: it all depends on the numbers. Anyway, what had become established was that cigarettes are all about lies.

A public health movement started up in order to counter the damage. Eventually it became well organised, and principally by means of public education and strong campaigns to reduce smoking, the very high prevalence rates (over 50% in some countries) fell to where they are now: somewhere around the 20% mark or maybe a little higher. It does of course depend on how you define a 'smoker', and the prevalence figure varies hugely as a result (the 'past month' figure or the 'daily smoker' figure for example).

Enter the world's largest-scale criminals, the pharmaceutical industry. As no other industry has paid such huge fines for criminal activities on such a wide scale, there is no exaggeration here, and certainly no libel: they are the world's biggest criminal fraudsters and the world's biggest criminal corruptors in terms of fines paid, since the fines run into multiple billions. Pharma's core business methods are propaganda, legislation-buying, fraud and corruption. They run the world's largest and most successful black propaganda operation (this 'false flag' method is where propaganda appears to originate from one source but is organised and paid for by another). Organisations, medics and decision-makers are bought, and front organisations set up, to generate propaganda that camouflages the actions of the legislators who push through laws that remove competitors.

So, around 1995 - 2000, the pharmaceutical industry started to buy in. They had a big investment in the area since the drug market for treating sick smokers, along with the general boost to many other drug sales caused by smokers being sicker (diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure drugs for example), had become an important revenue channel. Then smoking cessation therapies came online, and another income channel was added. Together this must be more than $100bn a year and perhaps even $200bn a year, so it's not chump change. Pharmaceutical industry total global sales are estimated to be $1 trillion for 2015; so it appears that the smoking-related income channel is a significant percentage of it (it is impossible that smoking generates any less than 10% of pharma's overall income).

Pharma had a problem: TC wanted to eliminate smoking, but smoking made pharma rich. By this time smoking had created a monster money machine that millions of people depended on: it had become an economy in and of itself, worth at least $1 trillion a year and more likely $1.5 trillion. Pharma began to make more from smoking than tobacco did, in some places (such as the UK). Governments made even more [3]. People in public health began to depend on tobacco for a job. Pharma's solution was simple: buy anyone and everyone involved, in order to keep the gravy train rolling. They bought out the health organisations working against smoking, and turned them into front groups. They bought the policy makers, to make sure the laws suited. They had enough leverage on the media to make it work, since they part-owned it, were major advertisers, and tobacco advertising, previously a major channel, had been banned.

The crucial thing to remember is that pharma depends on smoking - no one is going to voluntarily kiss goodbye to $100bn a year or more.

The quid pro quo

The whole area of TCI funding, motivation and operations is highly complex and there aren't any simple answers to the simple questions: why do they do what they do (since it obviously results in widescale death), and who pays. A simplified answer is this:

  1. Originally, they did what they did because of ideology: a smoke-free world is a perfect world.
  2. More recently, the moral justification for the morphing of this goal to further, funding-friendly goals has become too shaky to support, but no one walks away from a highly-paid job in the current climate; so the motivation is financial since it cannot possibly be described as pro public health or even ethical at this point.
  3. In practice, the funds available come with no strings attached, the exception being pharma funds. Additional benefits are available direct from pharma. Therefore the main driver, in practice, is pharmaceutical industry funding. MSA funds for example - in practice - can be used for any purpose.
  4. Pharma needs to protect smoking, above all else, as it is the goose that lays the golden egg. There are so many income channels it is difficult to be sure that any list has covered them all; but the two principal channels are the huge drug market for the treatment of sick smokers, and the boost to multiple drug sales caused by smokers being sick or sicker: diabetes and cholesterol meds for example (a 1PAD smoker has a >60% elevation of risk for diabetes). Smoking cessation meds are one of the smaller channels in comparison, perhaps only $5bn annually.
  5. Pharma provides the basic funding to get legislation to remove threats to smoking such as Snus and e-cigarettes. Without this funding, the TCI would not be able to mount their attacks on THR, and might not oppose it in any case (as it is so clearly beneficial to public health).
  6. No one in tobacco control will admit to any of this (perhaps even to themselves, as it is one of those denial issues that can lead to problems). Even less can they admit that some tobacco and pharma firms are co-owned, and for this reason and others, some of the funding they receive must come from tobacco (the concept that all cigarette firms are friendly to e-cigarettes is rather difficult to support, especially as tobacco was a very willing and vocal partner with pharma in opposition to ecigs in the recent past).
  7. They are institutionally incapable of recognising that the tobacco control industry is now a powerful force against public health.

Whatever the motivation, and whatever the funding sources or conditions, what we clearly see are the effects: the TCI gets legislation that protects smoking in order to protect pharma's income, to the massive detriment of public health. It is a symbiotic relationship because each needs the other, and their agendas fit together perfectly.

According to experts the MSA funding is far greater than pharma input; but on the other hand MSA funds in practice come with no strings attached (there are numerous reports of such funds being clearly diverted from legitimate purposes and used for non-authorised purposes, with no prosecutions resulting). Also, the MSA payments cannot be applied individually to the 'best performing' staff. It appears that the pharma funds have conditions attached: and those conditions are obvious.

The pharma effect
So pharma bought out TC and use it as a tool to get the legislation they need to remove competitors. These rivals (such as Snus and e-cigarettes) will reduce smoking by 60%, perhaps 70%, and reduce smoking-related morbidity by the same amount: if ULR products take 70% of the smoking market then disease can be expected to drop by around 69 - 70%. Since this would mean a cut of tens of billions annually for pharma (and perhaps over $100bn), they had to act.

And then they found that they had been phenomenally lucky:

  • Pharmaceutical interventions for smoking cessation have a 9 out of 10 failure rate, which meant there was no threat to smoking as the success rate was lower than the new smoker uptake rate. You can promote pharmacotherapies for smoking cessation as much as you like, but it has no effect. Indeed, the more people using them the better: a continual smoke - quit - fail - smoke cycle that turned into a nice little earner (especially when the same company owns a tobacco and pharmaceutical firm: the definition of a win-win situation).
  • Government needed the money even more than them, so there was no question that smoking would be banned or even restricted to the point of removing it by regulation. US States are, in some cases, essentially run on smoking: witness the screams of pain from State AGs when they realised that MSA payments are under threat from e-cigarettes because millions will quit smoking.
  • It turned out that attempts to reduce smoking don't work past a certain prevalence point in the population (usually taken as 20%, although of course it depends on how you measure it), in countries where smoking prevalence was originally very much higher - and this is most Western countries.
  • Therefore huge 'efforts' could be supported to 'reduce smoking' - but of course they would have no effect at all. Everybody looks good because on the surface it appears they are acting against smoking; although the fact that there hasn't been any significant reduction in smoking prevalence in recent years needs to be carefully hidden from the public, especially considering the huge funds routed through the TCI that have no visible impact.
  • Laws could be arranged that prevented any real threat to smoking, since by this time they owned everybody that mattered.
  • Pharma would appear to be the good guys in all this, while all the time ensuring that smoking was protected.
  • Tobacco control worked hard at running on the spot, while being well-paid for job-creation schemes: work that has no visible effect any longer but that can be justified by propaganda as being valuable. Pharma gets points for supporting tobacco control while knowing all the time that absolutely nothing will be done to reduce smoking prevalence.
  • Because tobacco control industry measures to reduce smoking stall out around the 20% prevalence point, but populations are rising inexorably, the actual number of smokers is rising. Everybody wins.

By 2008 we are in a position where the smoking money machine is so powerful that it cannot be killed off: everyone from government through to the 'public health' community needs it. The sums of money generated by smoking are so astronomically large they might not even be able to be calculated: every time you think you've taken something into account, another $10bn here, $20bn there crops up. If you want to try to estimate the total size of the smoking economy, go ahead; the ballpark size you need to be in is: take the global total of tobacco sales including tax (perhaps around $800bn currently @Q3 2013), and multiply that by whatever figure you consider accurately represents all the many other incomes generated (perhaps as much as 2x). The smoking economy is worth at least $1 trillion a year and is conceivably as large as $1.5 trillion. It is immensely powerful due to its enormous wealth and the fact it controls all aspects of the legislatory process: the tax revenue is so great, and the makers of all the products used for either for smoking or treating the disease caused by smoking have such a powerful grip on the political process that smoking is invulnerable.

The citizen THR movement

But then, to everyone's dismay, e-cigarettes came along: a new technology that will destroy the smoking economy. The problem with new technology is that there is no way to stop it: you can't put the genie back in the bottle. A tremendous fight always ensues in these situations, with the object of slowing down the march of the inevitable.

The new technology enables troublesome citizens who don't actually want to die, to escape the established government-approved industry-benefitting path that smoking has involved for decades: smoke - attempt to quit using pharmaceuticals - fail and relapse to smoking - pay huge taxes - die (and save gov huge sums in pensions and healthcare for the elderly). Now, the citizens have a new option and are fighting for their rights: they just want their coffee or nicotine or whatever without it harming them; and the dratted nuisance about them is that they just won't lie down, shut up and die.  Everyone's job and perks are threatened and the situation is beginning to look desperate:

  • Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) is a fundamental attack on the TCI religion, which holds that we are working toward a [*smoking / *tobacco / *nicotine]-free society (*delete as appropriate, according to the flavour of the month).
  • The THR advocates keep exposing TCI lies. This threatens everyone's credibility and employment.
  • As far as the pharmaceutical industry are concerned, e-cigarettes are public enemy #1. This is problematic because pharma demands results for their investment. Government grants, MSA funds and the like come with no strings attached - but pharma needs action, or TCI staff will lose their benefits.
  • The biggest problem of all is that smoking will be drastically reduced and possibly even virtually eliminated (this is how things are going in Sweden, as male smoking prevalence will be just 5% by 2016). This of course is the ultimate disaster for tobacco control - no one works to remove their own job.
  • The only benefit anyone can see to THR is that a lot of people won't die. Clearly, this is of no possible interest to anyone in tobacco control or they wouldn't be working so hard to stop it.

The main problem for the citizens is that absolutely no one will benefit from the smoking money tap being turned off. Reducing smoking effectively, as THR products will do (and only they can do, once 20PR operates), means that important industries and large numbers of people in influential positions will suffer financially. Since these people hold the key to power, due to the astronomically large sums of money generated by the smoking money machine, the machine essentially owns the law. The law will be used to protect smoking. Citizens don't matter and they should pay, shut up and die.

So now we can clearly see where 'public health' is right now: a commercial enterprise just like any other. Worse, probably: at least commercial actors can be seen for what they are - an enterprise designed to make profits, and without any moral compass in many cases; but elements of the public health community work for the public, take public money, then operate in manner that benefits commercial funders and kills people. All of the public health community are implicated because it is up to them to stop corruption within their ranks, but they do nothing. They all keep taking the money and saying nothing.

"When I teach public health students, I always point out to them that they are signing up to enter into a corrupt special interest group."
- Prof CV Phillips

The past vs the present

Now we look at the TCI's role. They became the frontline troops because (a) the public thinks they are angels (rightly, you might argue, up to a certain time point); (b) governments love them as they have such a clean image; and (b) pharma desperately needs them in order to get rid of new and serious threats to smoking. So, we have placed on record here that TC did a good job up to a certain point; a great job, in fact. The water gets a bit muddy after 2008 though, because smoking prevalence can no longer be reduced in many countries since it has bottomed out at the practical minimum. From this point on, all the various anti-smoking ploys are nothing more than useless job creation schemes for the TCI, because such methods no longer have any effect.

The most honest of all saw this problem about 2003, and knew what was coming. They moved into THR as it saves lives and is not based around a make-work principle that would eventually harm public health.

Let's be charitable and assume that most in the TCI probably didn't realise this for a while, and were acting in good faith. We'll leave aside the dubious nature of their methods of controlling the population by legislation to restrict freedom, as it fits in well with the new Stalinism that Western populations now accept as the norm, where freedoms are gradually removed without any apparent resistance. If people accept that form of government happily, then it is their right to do so. TC did a good job up to a certain point, when they started to feel they had the right to order people's lives; or alternatively at the point when the people at the top must have known that all they were doing was inventing pointless job-creation schemes (perhaps this was around the same time). The troops know nothing of these kinds of issues so we can't blame them.

"Part of the tobacco control job description is to avoid thinking critically, after all."
- Carl Phillips

All the TCI does now is produce worthless job-creation schemes and lie about the reasons for it. In this they are fully supported by their funders, the pharmaceutical industry, because in practice they have the same agenda: do nothing significant about smoking while simultaneously looking as if you are trying to cure it. Some people in the TCI may not realise this, but to suggest the people at the top don't is clearly ludicrous. To keep the gravy train rolling, the whole business now needs to be founded on a lie, and facilitated by lies at every stage.

Now let's be fair here: TC had to fight the tobacco industry for many years, and the single most important characteristic of that industry is its love affair with lies. The trouble is that it is easy to become your enemy, and never has this been better demonstrated than by the TCI - they have become tobacco by fighting tobacco. Now TC is about lying, while tobacco is trying to buy up harm reduction: the world on its head.

At this point we need to point out that nobody has believed the cigarette industry for a very long time. If everyone knows you are a liar, then it tends to reduce liability from a moral point of view: everyone knows that cigarette makers lie, so it has become something of a joke, and a universal one at that - wherever you go in the world you will be at home if you make a joke about cigarettes and death. It is universally acknowledged that smoking will kill you, it is very hard to quit, and that the cigarette firms have always lied about this. This is one of the most universally-acknowledged truths in the world; to suggest there is anyone who doesn't know that is being more than a little disingenuous. It's like saying people don't know that base jumping, TT motorbike racing or cave diving [6] are highly dangerous and there is a significant chance of serious injury or death. Of course they do; it's part of the reason people do it: to try and beat the odds.

Truly evil people
Unfortunately the same thing cannot be said about TC because they do their absolute best to conceal their lies and shroud them with a coat of respectability, truth and fake honesty. They learnt from the masters, of course: the pharmaceutical industry.

The tobacco control industry now contains some of the most murderously corrupt liars it is possible to find anywhere: medics and academics, part-funded by the taxpayer, who deal in death for personal profit. It would be hard to find anyone anywhere more willing to kill hundreds of thousands of people for personal profit while being in some measure responsible for the health of those who they are killing, while disclaiming all responsibility, and while lying prodigiously in order to keep their jobs and benefits.

Most are either funded by the taxpayer or pharma in some form, or both. Those who are neither funded by the taxpayer nor members of the medical profession in some way cannot be described as corrupt; those who are funded by pharma in some way (commonly by way of funding the institutions they work for) but are not members of the medical profession cannot be described as corrupt; but that doesn't leave many (and perhaps none at all).

If there are any, since their current obsession is to fight the reduction of smoking prevalence by harm reduction when nothing else will work now due to the 20% Prevalence Rule, they could perhaps best be described as crackpots - or just very, very stupid. Most, however, are simply corrupt liars for profit.

Tobacco control, past and present

The TCI originally had notable successes, such as the reduction of smoking prevalence by a significant amount in some countries; and the Snus ban was very competently managed and appeared beneficial at the time (1991). At that stage, there were many honest and ethical members, working for public health. As the pharma takeover progressed, the honest and/or intelligent personnel left, because the climate was clearly moving toward an ideological goal and this meant health took second place; because promoting pharmaceutical interventions became the norm after 2000 even though it was becoming clear that such products didn't work and that there were better solutions; because the new paradigm of controlling people's lives down to previously-unacceptable levels had no real benefit in reducing smoking; and because it had become more about gaining control and maintaining job security rather than improving health.

Even more obvious was the realisation that banning Snus in the rest of the EU had been a terrible mistake, as Sweden became the world leaders in reducing smoking, the world leaders in reducing smoking-related mortality, and the world leaders in reducing smoking-related morbidity. Progress in other countries gradually slowed and then stalled due to the law of diminishing returns, the 20% prevalence effect, and multiple other factors.

This had the effect of leaving TCI with mainly dishonest and less-able members, who fatally dropped the ball with the e-cigarette issue by not recognising what was obvious to the meanest of intellects: this was going to become an unstoppable threat to pharma income unless killed off early. They failed their masters miserably by allowing ecigs to survive, due to incompetent management of the political processes that could have strangled ecigs early on; the clever and competent who had managed the Snus ban had left by this time, leaving the less-able in control.

It could be argued that no one recognises a disruptive new technology early on; on the other hand, it was clear enough to people in the ecig world that a sea-change was coming, and it was far clearer than the Snus issue had been in the early 90s. There had also been a previous threat, so nothing about the ecig threat to pharma income was new or uncertain; what was different was that the competent had left tobacco control.

TC now mainly consists of people too stupid to realise they are working directly against public health (by resisting THR) - it's why we call them the 'useful idiots' - too dense to realise they are protecting cigarette sales, too thick to realise their work to protect pharma profits is going to kill millions if successful; or just too corrupt to care. If there are any timid souls who have realised the true situation, they are just too scared to speak out - after all, everyone has a mortgage to pay or a family to feed.

TCI agenda item #1: hide the truth

There were many honest and reputable people associated with TC in the past. Such persons have a major problem now because the one thing the TCI cannot allow any mention of is the truth; the whole house of cards would come tumbling down if its members were truthful. This means that immense pressure is brought to bear on anyone who does not toe the party line. That convention is founded on a lie and maintained by lies, which include but are not limited to:

  • That smoking prevalence can be significantly reduced further by conventional methods. (It can't, in Western countries where smoking prevalence was originally high.)
  • That it will be possible to achieve a tobacco-free world, or close to it, by continuing with conventional methods. (It can't - see above.)
  • That a nicotine-free world is a good thing. (Simply wrong, on numerous levels: many people appear to require supplementation of their dietary intake of nicotine, and since dietary supplements are not normally considered a bad idea, TC has invented a new medical 'rule'.)
  • That THR is the wrong way to achieve progress, as nicotine use is bad. (This is news to medical experts in this area as they can't find any evidence for it; it means that a normal dietary ingredient is bad for some undefined reason of ideology).
  • That people shouldn't consume things with alkaloids or similar materials in them. (This is strange in people who probably drink coffee, tea and wine, eat chocolate, and eat vegetables - all of which contain pharmacologically active substances, including of course nicotine. The subtext here is that TCI personnel are also the world's biggest hypocrites.)
  • That THR products may be harmful so should be blocked. ('May' is an excellent word because by using it you can ignore 30 years' epidemiology that tells us consumption of THR products has no clinical significance.)
  • That THR does not work. (This is perhaps the weirdest lie of all, as it's a bit like saying the sky is pink or airplanes don't work - you only have to look out of the window to see it's a lie. But the great thing about propaganda is that if you have a bigger budget than the other guy, your version becomes the truth.)

The giants such as Prof Etter and Prof Britton can act with impunity since their stature creates immunity; but they are far too honest to be regarded as members of TC any longer. If Etter, Britton or Siegel do still work somewhere in the tobacco control building, the office they are in probably has Tobacco Control - Department of Honesty inscribed on the door. They are shunned by the rest: honesty is a fatal disease in tobacco control.

It would be an insult to describe people like Bill Godshall, Carl Phillips or Brad Rodu as members of tobacco control: they are too sane, too intelligent, and just too honest. The honest and sane TC people moved across to THR long ago because this is actually a way to save lives, not a scam to get state funding in order to secure your own worthless job, protect cigarette sales and promote pharma products in return for even more benefits.

99% redundant

For the sake of completeness, it is necessary to add that not all TCI personnel are unnecessary. We still need about 1% of them to manage the ongoing public information campaigns that ensure smokers or potential smokers know the risks. The rest are just parasites now. Or to be more accurate: lethal parasites.

As their propaganda skills are unmatched these probably have a value somewhere. The commercial propaganda the TCI produce is unmatched in history and well worth the millions it costs pharma; at the very least, TC should be employed to run university courses on how to get highly paid to run commercial propaganda campaigns to benefit select industries, while killing people on an industrial scale, and getting praised for doing it all the while. Brussels University would be an excellent place for such courses.

On second thought: the EU has its own experts on this subject, so they don't need any help.

Honesty, or an IQ greater than 83, are an impassable barrier to employment in the tobacco control industry. Only the corrupt, the stupid and the crazy are left in TC: a parasitic industry whose time is finished and done with, and who are left with a collection of corrupt, pathological liars and barking mad crackpots at the top, and an army of naive, plank-thick dimwits used as footsoldiers.


Part 2 - see menu at right >>




[1] Since:

  • Nicotine is of course a normal dietary ingredient closely related to the B vitamin group, and a proportion of the population appear to need to supplement their intake, as is normal;
  • Because nicotine is essentially harmless according to NICE and numerous professors of public health who probably know what they are talking about;
  • Because not only is it comparable to coffee in its implications for health but far more natural to consume since nicotine, unlike coffee, is part of the normal diet;
  • Because everyone tests positive for nicotine in any case (the last large-scale test was by the CDC, of 800 people who all tested positive);
  • Because no one tests positive for coffee/caffeine or alcohol as part of a normal and nutritional diet;
  • Because when you feed your baby mashed-up vegetables you are feeding her nicotine, and quite rightly no one has ever suggested this is a bad idea: it's entirely normal, natural and desirable since there is nothing wrong with B vitamins and associated compounds;
  • Because no one has ever even demonstrated (never mind proved) that nicotine is addictive outside of smoking: there is no such thing as a clinical trial of any potential nicotine might have for dependence - all citations lead to smoking-related studies.

Because of all the above, there just isn't anything intrinsically wrong with nicotine and no amount of lies will ever change that; therefore aiming for a nicotine-free world is simply ridiculous on that score alone. Like iron, vitamin A or many other dietary components you don't abuse it: take too much and they are toxic. There is nothing wrong about that; it's normal (the dose makes the poison).

We must then add in the fact that nicotine is an active nutrient in the normal diet, and it prevents and treats numerous neurodegenerative, auto-immune and inflammatory diseases, together with certain cognitive dysfunction conditions. So, trying to reduce nicotine consumption is the same as promoting Parkinson's diseas and similar conditions. Luckily, there are highly profitable treatments for such conditions, so someone makes a lot of money if more incidence of these diseases can be engineered. The same goes for cancer of course.

[2] Prof Britton of the Royal College of Physicians has stated that if all UK smokers switched to e-cigarettes then 5 million lives would be saved, just among those alive today. This is a theoretical number since all the smokers in Britain are not going to switch, and not tomorrow. Nevertheless the number of deaths that can realistically be prevented still runs into several million just in Britain. The TCI is strongly resisting this change for ideological reasons, usefully funded by the pharmaceutical industry: reduction of their smoking-related income channels by the 50%+ that ecigs threaten will cost them tens of billions a year globally. Pharma has its own ideology, which is quite simple: profits must be protected at any cost.

[3] The stats vary depending on the source, but are usually in about the same area. In 2010 tobacco sales in the UK were about £14bn. The government took £12bn, the tobacco industry £2bn. My calculations show that pharma made at least £2.1bn from smoking-related channels, and therefore they made more than tobacco did from smoking. The government was an 86% stakeholder in tobacco sales on the over the counter price; however they also make enormous sums in other areas: at least £10bn savings from smokers dying 10 years early on average, thus saving significant amounts in pensions, healthcare costs, and all other support costs for the elderly. They paid £2.7bn for the treatment of sick smokers, however. When all is added in, government are a greater than 90% stakeholder in tobacco sales (they make about £20bn in total compared to the tobacco industry's £2bn). Cigarettes are in practice bought from the government, who are by far the largest beneficiary.

[4] Sweden's male smoking prevalence falls at 1% per year; the NHS reduces smoking in the UK by an unmeasurably low figure: see the ONS graph on this page.

Any reduction in UK smoking prevalence effected by the NHS is eclipsed by the e-cigarette effect. Since ecigs have certainly reduced smoking prevalence in the UK by somewhere between 1% and 3%, then if the graph has stayed at around 20% prevalence, then - QED - smoking prevalence would actually have risen were it not for ecigs. In any case the actual number of smokers has risen (inevitable if the prevalence percentage stays the same and population rises).

[5] A CEO in the TCI can earn approaching $1 million a year.

Generous funding is available for spurious studies that produce meaningless drivel and have no purpose other than to attack commercial rivals by allowing a favourable press release: studies such as one where YouTube videos were watched attract fees of $850,000, for example. Essentially, the researcher is funded with huge sums purely so that a press release can be published (the content of the study is laughable tosh, and cannot be used for any other purpose): this demonstrates how much money is available.

[6] At least 500 divers have died just in the Florida sinkhole caves. Multiply that by a global figure and the sport can be seen for the deathsport it is. Perfectly legal, and for good reason: people have the right to kill themselves any way they choose.

[7] See the YouGov / Smoking Toolkit / R West / ASH UK figures; see References page: Cigarettes, Smoking >> Smoking Statistics, #9.



created 2013-06-29
last update 2013-12-14