Anti-rokenonderzoeker Michael Siegel, die zich al enige tijd verzet tegen de Amerikaanse anti-rokenlobby, gaat vandaag op zijn blog hevig te keer tegen de hypocrisie van deze organisaties. Hij reageert daarmee op beschuldigingen die vanuit deze organisaties tegen hem zijn gericht over zijn super-kritische houding tegenover de anti-rokenindustrie.
Michael beschrijft in deze reactie uitgebreid zijn achtergronden en verdiensten als anti-tabakswetenschapper maar geeft aan dat de huidige lobby zich te buiten gaat aan dezelfde misleiding en misinformatie die zij de tabaksindustrie verwijten. Hij noemt daarbij zelfs, en niet voor de eerste keer, Forces bij naam als een organisatie die terecht stelling neemt tegen deze uitwassen van de belangrijkste anti-rokenorganisaties in de VS.
Hij heeft het wel gehad met de gezondheidsindustrie:
“What I think has happened is that the anti-smoking movement has departed from public health. This is not what public health is supposed to be about. There are ethical codes of conduct that public health practitioners follow. And I am going to follow them. And I won’t be part of any movement that doesn’t.”
So I have not changed at all.
What has changed is the anti-smoking movement.
It has changed from a true, grassroots social movement run largely by volunteers to a highly centralized, professional movement, dominated by a few major, well-funded organizations that have coopted the entire movement, taken things into their own hands, and set us in a direction that I think is contrary to the basic goals I have been working for during my 21 years in public health.
It has changed from a movement that prided itself, and distinguished itself from the tobacco industry, on the truth to one that doesn’t seem to care whether its public statements are factual, so long as the ultimate goal of achieving its desired legislation is supported.
It has changed from a movement with some integrity to one that doesn’t seem to care about the means, only the ends. As long as the end we are working for is a good one, we can do pretty much anything we need to in order to get there, even if that means issuing unwarranted and untruthful personal attacks against individuals or groups, lying to the public, misleading people in our public communications, and throwing ethics aside in order to achieve our goals.
It has changed from a movement that was trying to help smokers to one that is trying to penalize them. The movement is supporting ever-increasing cigarette taxes to balance state budgets as well as policies that would essentially result in smokers becoming second class citizens by not being able to be employed due to worker policies that deny employment to individuals who smoke.
It has changed from a movement that was backed up by science to one that is pursuing its ends regardless of the science. The movement is increasingly supporting policies that ban smoking not only indoors, but outdoors, in wide open areas where there simply is not evidence of any substantial health effects. The movement is also supporting policies that create an unlevel playing field of health protection, offering protection to some workers but denying it to others.
It has changed from a movement that used the law as a vehicle to advance appropriate legal interests to one that is trying to use the law as a free-for-all to gain any number of public health goals that are simply not supported by the law.
It has changed from a movement that spoke out against tobacco advertising to one that now gives awards to groups that expose millions of kids to tobacco advertising.
It has changed from a movement that spoke out against front groups that allowed Big Tobacco to hide behind the scenes while paying to support efforts to promote its interests, to one that now uses front groups itself.
And it has changed from a movement that was once fighting Big Tobacco to one that is now standing shoulder to shoulder with the largest cigarette manufacturer in the world, on the verge of helping it to achieve legislation that will serve to basically destroy my ability to continue working to prevent tobacco-related disease and death. And it is being promoted with unethical means, deceptive communications, and with the inappropriate recruitment of youths to advance this narrow-minded and misguided cause. And it is being done without the appropriate input of the public health community, especially the individuals working at the grassroots who know best the types of interventions that are most effective in reducing tobacco use.
It’s been breaking my heart every day watching the movement go in this direction.
And there’s only one way that I know of to try to change things and restore the movement to a more ethical, responsible, appropriate, and effective path. And that’s to speak out for what I believe is right and to write about, chronicle, document, and expose what is happening to the movement.