Sunday, July 16, 2006

Business Online and Angela Merkel

Sir ­ Angela Merkel has now shown her anti-smoking credentials (³Germans fire up smoking row², 25/26 June) In doing so, the German Chancellor proves she is no more intelligent and no less gullible than all politicians who have already flirted with assaults on the smoking minority of their electorate. I don¹t suppose Merkel has much opportunity or inclination to read the scientific press or properly educate herself by making thorough research into the subject. If she did she would find the scientific organisations sadly lacking in any quality of accuracy having been taken over by the World Health Organisation (WHO) agenda to improve public health by demonising smokers.

The role of the pharmaceutical industry is only too plain to see. It has the most to gain and is rolling in the profits from smoking cessation aids. These drugs are close to useless in assisting smokers to quit and have many side-effects.

The time has come for some more original thought on the subject of smoking and public health. Passive smoking has been used as a weapon in pushing the public health argument, but it just doesn¹t stand up to scientific scrutiny. The risks to the health of smokers are very real and these risks are added to with the marginalisation they are now experiencing. Apart from it being the honest route for informing public policy, it must make more sense to use real arguments rather than junk science.

The record of effects from smoking restrictions and higher taxation on tobacco in the USA and in Ireland and now Scotland show that they are impotent, just like nicotine patches in achieving the goal of reducing smoking. Smoking is not the pariah it is made out to be and is not easy to give up. The only way to stop smoking is to make it illegal and to suffer the real effects of alternative taxation.
Dr Phil Button
Associate Specialist in Anaesthesia & Pain Relief

Sir ­ Smoking bans are the latest craze amongst politicians ­ and bigots. They are based upon what is probably the biggest scam of the last 30 years. The scam promoted is that second-hand smoke [passive smoking] is a deadly toxic substance. It is not, and such claims are founded on junk science.

You state in your article that one of the reasons why Germany has been loath to support smoking bans is because of monies from tobacco companies pumped into the country¹s political parties. So what? A great deal of the money behind smoking bans comes from major pharmaceuticals ­ namely Glaxo, Novartis and Pharmacia and Upjohn in Europe and Johnson & Johnson in America ­ all of which are front rank merchants of smoking cessation products. Glaxo, Novartis and Pharmacia and Upjohn are also the principal funders of the World Health Organisation. Aside from the fact that smoking cessation products are very expensive, and have dubious effectiveness, it is small wonder then that the WHO has failed to concentrate adequately of communicable diseases and become so obsessed with the fashionable social diseases of first world countries. After all, these are more lucrative for its pharmaceutical masters.

It is small wonder too that Angela Merkel should attempt to shore up her popularity by jumping on the latest populist bandwagon. Such bandwagons are the place of mediocre politicians. Germans should resist the smoking ban mania, for such bans are vindictive, unreasonable and unacceptable in a civilised world that believes in choice.
John Gray
Ewloe Green