From Philanthropy to Propaganda
ASH (UK) has radically shifted since 1971 from being “a campaigning public health charity that works to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco (and that does) not attack smokers or condemn smoking”, to one that ditched its slogan "ASH - Action on Smoking and Health" and replaced it with "The Campaign for Freedom from Tobacco", issuing a press statement saying:
"We are relaunching ASH today with a pledge to devote ourselves to hound the tobacco industry out of business by every means at our disposal.”
They now employ cynical lobbying methods and spin to influence the political process. In their own words:
It is essential that campaigners create the impression of inevitable success. Campaigning of this kind is literally a confidence trick: the appearance of confidence both creates confidence and demoralises the opposition. The week before the free vote we made sure the government got the message that we "knew" we were going to win and it would be better for them to be on the winning side. (Deborah Arnott and Ian Willmore; July 2006)
Even when they acknowledge that they are out of touch with the views of the public, both smokers and non-smokers, they cynically see this as being only a problem in terms of fine-tuning their propaganda. Their own internal Strategic Plan 2008 - 2011, in which they examine their own weaknesses, says:
“Lack of contact with the general public and smokers – this may lead to not understanding the public or what smokers think, which is essential to know if ASH is to affect social change. It is also important that ASH is not too far ahead of public opinion.”
ASH (UK), although a UK registered charity, is also a significant player in global anti-tobacco organisations: for example, theFramework Convention Alliance and the European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention (ENSP).
They have fully pledged themselves to promote and support the aims of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on tobacco control. The following are examples of what ASH have in mind for us all. This is what they have signed us up to and for which they will fight “with every means at our disposal”:
Taken from the WHO’s The Tobacco Atlas
Cigarettes only available on prescription in rich countries
The tobacco industry is fully regulated, with licensing of nicotine as an addictive drug, and manufacture, promotion and sale under strict regulatory control by government agencies.
Cigarette packets will be plain black and white and contain only brand name and explicit health warnings.
Doubts about new “less hazardous” products increases.
Tobacco control funded from a percentage of tobacco tax in many countries.
Vaccine produced to switch off nicotine receptors.
And they are proud of their propaganda machine.
Next Tuesday, 15th March, ASH Scotland are sharing their methods and approach with another branch of the New Temperance and Prohibition Movement - alcohol control, at a summit meeting in Edinburgh. ASH Scotland chief executive Sheila Duffy said ASH Scotland,
"are hosting this summit so we can listen to the experiences from each sector and learn lessons on where we can be effective in continuing to reduce the impact of alcohol and tobacco on Scotland's people.”