I read a piece yesterday over at Forest Eireann’s site.

There is a letter there, quoted in full from  Michael O’Shea of the Irish Heart Foundation to the Irish Government.

Let’s have a look……

To: Alex White TD
Chair, Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform,
Dáil Eireann, Leinster House, Dublin 2.

Subject: Meeting with Finance Public Expenditure and Reform Committee

Dear Deputy White,

I am writing to you in relation to the appearance of the Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) organization before the Finance Public Expenditure and Reform Committee.

We feel it’s important you are aware that this organization is funded by the tobacco industry and represents its views in relation to the smuggling issue, which the industry uses as a self-serving means of trying to restrict tobacco tax increases that reduce smoking prevalence and therefore save lives.

I suppose this is true.  A level of income retailers receive is from the profits of tobacco sales, so you could argue that they are financed by the industry.  By the same token, the Irish Heart Foundation receives large grants taken from tobacco revenues, so maybe O’Shea should disqualify himself on those grounds also?  Of course if the facts add up then the funding should be irrelevant.

Therefore, by discussing the issue of smuggling with RAS, you are not getting the full story – or perhaps any accurate picture of the truth in relation to the smuggling issue.

In addition, RAS do not deal in fact, but merely in opinions which are not evidence based. You may recall that I wrote to you last November with a copy of the Irish Heart Foundation’s report titled Tobacco Taxation, Smuggling and Smoking in Ireland to seek a meeting with you and the opportunity for the Irish Heart Foundation to appear before the Committee together with our partners in the Irish Cancer Society and ASH Ireland to discuss the tobacco tax and smuggling issue.

So RAS deal in opinions and not facts?  Coming from an Anti-Tobacco lobbyist this would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.  I think this point may get a further mention further on….

This research, carried out by leading UK economic consultancy – Landman Economics – provides compelling evidence that taxation is not a major driver of smuggling in this country. It also supports our contention that a national tobacco control policy combining tax increases, tough anti-smuggling measures and more realistic cessation services, we can massively increase tax income from tobacco, whilst reducing both smuggling and overall smoking rates, with a massive public health benefit.

So an English consultancy firm knows more about Irish smuggling rates that the Irish Customs and Excise?  According to Landman “The study shows that a €1 tax increase on a packet of 20 cigarettes would bring in €68 million in extra receipts and a further €28 million in indirect public finance benefits.” while according to Irish Customs and ExciseIncreasing the taxation of cigarettes in Ireland no longer carries the combined benefits of better public health and higher revenue for the public finances that would have arisen from such increases in the past. At the very least, these benefits are severely weakened by the substitution of untaxed for taxed consumption.”  Now ask yourself which of those two is the most reliable?  Which has better access to the facts?  Which is the least likely to have any bias?  Who commissioned Landman?

This is underlined by what has been achieved in the UK. A decade ago they had similar smoking and smuggling rates to ours. But by introducing a policy of regular tax increases above inflation, with increased investment in tackling smuggling and smoking cessation services, they reduced the number of smokers by 2 million, achieved a 50% decrease in child smokers, cut the smuggling rate from 21% to 12% and secured a major increase in tax receipts. In return for expenditure of £300 million a year the UK Government is receiving£1.7 billion in net annual revenue benefits and an estimated £1.2 billion in extra tax from reduced smuggling activity.

Right.  I said this would come up again.  The IHF, ICS and ASH deal in facts?  Out of interest I checked on the rate of smoking in the 16 to 19 age group in the UK.  According to Cancer Research UK the rate has remained remarkably steady singe 2004 at 14%, with a small dip to 12% in 2007 and back up to 14% by 2009.  So where the hell is the 50% decrease?  I have no reason to believe that any of the other figures are any more honest.  A decrease of two million since when?  Where do these numbers come from?  If RAS deal in opinions and not facts, then our little Anti-Smoking friends deal in tooth fairies, goblins and sheer wishful thinking.

To ensure that your members are given all of the facts in relation to the issue of tobacco smuggling and tax, I would request that the IHF, ICS and ASH Ireland have the opportunity to meet the committee at the earliest opportunity.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours Sincerely,
Michael O’Shea
CEO, the Irish Heart Foundation

Sadly, this is the kind of utter crap that is forming government opinion these days.

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Invention lies and massive exaggeration — 13 Comments

  1. Does it really matter?  Heavy smoking over a long peroiod of time is very, very bad for your health. No question about that. If you don’t believe me ask your doctor. So I really don’t get where you keep going with this. Yes I agree they go overboard with the resrictions. But that’s all you get. If there’s a slim chance that your blog should be the tipping point to persuade any young kid to start smoking then you really should shurrup about it. What about your grandkids Grandad? You giving them ciggies yet?

  2. tt – Are you seriously suggesting that some kid would be persuaded to take up smoking by anything I have said?  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I have never advocated smoking anywhere.  Incidentally, I have asked my doctor and he agreed that smoking [while hazardous] is not half as bad as some make it out to be.  A previous doctor said quite openly that he thought a low level of smoking [up to ten a day] could actually be beneficial. 

    As for whether it really matters – yes, it does matter.  It matters a lot to me that a million Irish are being victimised and demonised because of a lifestyle choice.  It matters to me that the government are trying to bully me into a way of life I do not wish to follow.  It matters to me that people are being victimised and being refused jobs and medical procedures because of a lifestyle choice.  It matters to me because they are seriously considering whether I should be allowed to smoke in my own car or not.  It matters to me bacause there is a move towards banning smoking in my own home.   It matters to me because from all the research I have done [and continue to do] the whole vendetta is based on lies and deceit.   So yes – it does fucking matter.

    As for whether I should shut up about it – “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”.  And the Anti smoking movement is evil in that it has caused more deaths and suffering than any “passive smoking” has ever done.

    As for the grandkids – that’s up to their parents.  I’m going to actively discourage them but ultimately it will be their choice, not mine nor any interfering government’s.


  3. Slab – Fair ‘nuf.  There is no legal obligation to read it, though doubtless that will be the subject of some EU dictat at some stage?

  4. Fuck it’s enough to make me start smoking, if only to piss tt off.
    I hear far too much of the word “choice” but it’s only a good choice if decreed by the PTB.
    When the supermarkets were in the ascendancy it was all in the interests of choice – now that the supermarket is the only place to buy food you have to buy what they choose to puit on their shelves, choice – my arse.

  5. Why not just give the smelly weed up, GD. You’ll save a fortune. You can stand on a M50 bridge at rush hour and breath free pollution in. You will also be able to have a rant, for a change, on the horrors of giving up. That’d be a larf.

  6. http://www.independent.ie/unsorted/features/the-western-way-of-death-403602.html
    Have a read, a look, GD. You could, given the choice, be around for much longer to bore us to death (entertain) us. Its up to you.
    Tobacco Wars got me off the weed. To think the cunts in the smokes industry were making a fucking mug outta me, while I bought their shite and they thought of new ways to poison me annoyed me enough to say no more. So, I’ve been off them since 1999.
    Personally, I don’t give a flying fuck if people smoke or not, but it killed close family members, who indulged. That sharpens ones resolve.
    The Gubmint ain’t getting any smokes taxes outta me anymore either.

  7. Jan M, GD will be needing a Horsepital before I do. The Dockers and Nurfles there will have to sort out his eventual problems eventually, if he does’nt have to wait to long for a scratcher.

  8. Patrick – We are all perfectly free to choose what we like [provided of course that it has been passed by the Health Police].

    Filthy – Hah!  Touche!

    Slab – “Smelly weed”?  Obviously not a fan of nice aromatic pipe smoke then?  Why the hell should I give up something which I enjoy and that I find relaxing?  Granted I would save money but I could do that by giving up food and drink or buying any of life’s other little pleasures.  Which would you rather be?  Broke and happy or rich and miserable?

    Fair play for giving them up, but I wouldn’t be quite so chuffed if I were you – they are spreading their talons into food and drink now.  Soon, no one will be immune from The Righteous.

    Jan M – Heh!  Thanks.

    Slab – I cannot speak for the future, but to date, after forty years puffing the pipe I have never had one of these so called “smoking related diseases”.    What am I supposed to look out for?


  9. Having been off the smokes for so long and not remembering the desire to have one, I do still like the aroma of a good Cigar on the air. I would’nt smoke one though.
    Thing is though, you get used to the extra cash in the pocket and it gets absorbed into the everyday things. So, now I’m broke and miserable, but thats related to the Country’s Economic situation (aon sceal éile).
    GD, If you’re coffin’ a lot out of breath, can’t breath, wallet empty, no coins in the pocket, noticing tiny black holes (like rust on metal) appearing on your gob, hoof rot, barking at cats, drinking coke while eating menthos, to see where it all comes out, then its time for The Horsepital.

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