In dit derde artikel, ter gelegenheid van World No-Tobacco Day 2002, toont Luc Martial aan hoe de anti-rokenorganisaties het hele overheidsbeleid met betrekking tot tabak in Canada hebben overgenomen.
“Tobacco control is very much out of control. At the centre of this emerging chaos are publicly funded anti-tobacco lobbyists, and, on the sidelines, everyone else. Relegated to simply dotting the “i” and crossing the “t” on ever more aggressive regulations, Canadian governments have effectively painted themselves into a corner by allowing a handful of extremists to essentially wrestle stewardship of a public issue away from the public.”
The Ministerial Advisory Council on Tobacco Control (MAC) was created last year by then Minister of Health, Allan Rock. In Mr. Rock’s fervour to essentially kill Senator Colin Kenny’s Bill S-15 (Tobacco Youth Protection Act), he created a $210-million Mass Media component within the subsequently approved half-billion-dollar Federal Tobacco Control Strategy (FTCS). The creation of the MAC was a last-hour initiative aimed at securing the anti-tobacco lobby’s strategic support away from the Kenny bill.
Originally designed as an Advisory Committee on Health Promotion and Tobacco, its specific mandate was to advise on “effective mass media strategies and messages,” but the anti-tobacco lobby would not be bought off that cheaply. It secured for itself a more comprehensive mandate that included providing strategic advice and research on tobacco taxation, product modification cessation programs, community mobilization, youth access issues and industry denormalization. With a budget of $400,000 to play with (in 2001-2002), its initial work on the “light” and “mild” issue in Canada painted a very clear picture of how MAC will continue to be the anti-tobacco lobby’s most effective tool for bypassing both departmental process and public accountability.
At the root of the problem is the fact that Health Canada appointed eight longstanding federally registered lobbyists to the board’s 14 original members. Never to miss an opportunity, groups like the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association (NSRA), Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (PSFC), and the Coalition québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac (CQCT) wasted no time in filling internally created “vacancies” on subcommittees with more of their own staff. With the total tally in, 14 members and participants on MAC are federally registered lobbyists. NSRA, for its part, has three staff members who either chair or participate in five of the seven subcommittees.
Canada is hét grote voorbeeld voor anti-rokengroepen in de hele wereld, inclusief Nederland. De invloed van een lobbygroep als Stivoro bij het Ministerie van VWS is eveneens erg groot.