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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Brief Update on The House Plain Packs Cover

Last week I wrote a piece titled "What Moans May Come" in which I attempted to predict the tobacco control industry's response to The House magazine plain packs cover.  I regret that I didn't get all of my predictions right (for instance I haven't seen any press releases from CRUK or ASH), but some of it I did predict correctly. Well, as some musicians are fond of saying: it was close enough for jazz.

With a hat tip to the delightfully spoofy Tobacco Tactics account on Twitter, we now know via the University of Bath's tobacco tactics wiki that Stephen Williams MP fired off a letter to the publishers and moaned.  (I do not have a copy of that letter, nor do I have the response from the publisher, unfortunately.  If anyone does, please get in touch.)  It is curious that the only place this information appears is on the wiki. It is not on Williams's blog. It is not anywhere but on the wiki.  So we will have to take the wiki at face value and assume the information about the letter is correct. And because the wiki tends to change often, I've screen captured it as it stands now:

You can read the full wiki article here.

But I just love this line from the wiki:
By allowing Imperial Tobacco to include an ad such as this, The House magazine has enabled Imperial Tobacco to promote its anti-plain packaging agenda to the readership of The House, i.e. MPs.
This is how the tobacco control industry thinks and acts.  They believe that only they are allowed to promote their agendas of hate against smokers and those who would support the cause of liberty. Anyone else who disagrees with them and their tactics must not be heard from, and anyone who dares speak to speak out against tobacco control must be shouted down as stooges for Big Tobacco.  That strikes me as evil and totalitarian.

This is the bit about the letter that our very first Super Twat of the Month wrote to the publisher:
MP Stephen Williams wrote a letter to The House magazine, which suggested that a disclaimer should have been more prominently placed on the magazine cover and questioned why such a misleading advertorial was permitted in the publication at all, given that tobacco industry advertising is illegal in the UK. Gerry Murray, a publisher of The House magazine defended the inclusion such an advertisement by saying "Neither House magazine nor Dods operates a discriminative policy on who can and who cannot insert advocacy messages in the magazine. If they are within the laws of the land and the principles of common decency, in the interests of free speech we do not censor these messages. Whatever our personal views on smoking we cannot in all fairness exclude the tobacco lobby from the pages of the magazine. There lies a road to perdition, where would one stop?" 
Indeed, where would one stop on this road to perdition?

Furthermore, Stephen Williams MP could not resist a jab about the cover during a committee's discussion on clause 185 of the Finance bill in respect of duty on tobacco products.  Funnily enough, MP Peter Bone essentially told Williams to get stuffed for being off-topic, and then Williams was silent for the rest of the meeting.  I like to imagine Williams sulking like a three-year-old who just had his lolly taken away.  Have a look:

So that's the update. It's early days however. We might see more from the tobacco control industry regarding this. We might not.  Again, if anyone has these copies of these letters between the publisher and Williams, please get in touch. For now, it seems only Bath University has access to the letters.