Worrying behaviour by Action on Smoking and Health

Vapers in Power notes with concern – and disapproval – that Action on Smoking and Health continues to oppose the replacement of the EU’s inappropriate rules on electronic cigarettes with a new regulatory framework that’s actually fit for purpose. Despite repeated attempts to explain to ASH exactly why the TPD and its UK implementation are ill-advised and harmful restrictions based on misrepresented science, they persist in their support for it.

It should now be clear to everyone that ASH’s backing for the EU’s punitive approach to vaping is not merely down to a failure to understand the harm it causes. The reality is that ASH fully support this approach. They are not on our side; they simply view us as a convenient stick to beat the tobacco industry with. It goes without saying that people who do this are rarely worried about the welfare of the stick.

We note with even more concern that ASH’s chief executive, Deborah Arnott, sits at the centre of tobacco control in the UK and has a great deal of influence internationally. This is especially worrying in light of Ms Arnott’s well-known intolerance of disagreement.

Vaping advocates who have attempted to engage with ASH feel severely constrained in what they can say, out of fear that disagreeing too openly with Ms Arnott will result in their access to public health discussions being restricted. It is now clear that consumer advocates are not the only ones Arnott sees as legitimate targets for the application of pressure.

Yesterday Lisa McNally, a public health consultant with Bracknell Council, posted a tweet critical of the latest ASH anti-smoking campaign. Ms McNally is not an employee of ASH. She is under no obligation whatsoever to refrain from criticising a campaign run by a charity if she disagrees with that campaign. Nevertheless, this morning, she received an “angry call” from Arnott, who apparently feels entitled to harass public sector employees who displease her.

truemcnally-arnott-complaint

Given Arnott’s prominence in the tobacco control field, her extensive access to politicians and the substantial government funding she receives, this revelation of her methods should be of grave concern to every stakeholder in public health. How much opposition to harm reduction and proportionate legislation is driven, not by principle or objective study of the evidence, but by pressure applied behind the scenes by Arnott?

Vapers in Power call for a halt to all public funding of ASH, and the withdrawal of Deborah Arnott’s access to the Houses of Parliament and any parliamentary committee or working group, until proper mechanisms have been put in place to stop her harassing and bullying those who dare to disagree with her.

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