by Carl V Phillips
I will break the antiTHRlies fast with an aside. Currently the FCTC people — the UN (specifically the World “Health” Organization or WHO) organized, lavishly taxpayer-funded, most extreme and hubristic anti-tobacco prohibitionists — are meeting in Korea. Snowdon tells more about that cabal, noting that they have lost all sense of reality. They have twisted their war on smoking (defensible in principle due to the risks, though grossly indefensible in the details) into an (utterly indefensible) war on all tobacco regardless of the risk, a definitional example of anti-tobacco extremism.
But every bit as troubling as the FCTC people’s football-hooligan-level rhetoric of conflict and hate is what is supposedly the good news: Tobacco Reporter reported that one delegate arrived bearing blog posts by Jeff Stier and Clive Bates about how delegates should reject the attempt to basically prohibit THR, which is on the agenda for the meeting.
The view of a bunch of self-appointed activists that they can prohibit things is kind of funny. Already at the meeting, the delegates voted to prohibit black market cigarettes. LOL. I believe the WHO next plans to vote on banning polio and HIV. But in the case of THR products, national bans can actually be quite effective at keeping people smoking, and while rich educated countries set their own agenda, a lot of countries that are poor or lack effective democracies blindly do what the WHO says.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with the delegates reading Stier and Bates. They are both spot-on supporters of THR (and, interestingly, represent extremes of the political spectrum among THR supporters, with Bates probably too sympathetic to prohibitionism for most THR supporters and Stier generally supporting positions of the American anti-government right). The problem is that the delegate who brought these handouts believes, probably correctly, that a couple of 600-word overviews of THR will be informative to the other delegates at the meeting. Those delegates are supposed to be experts on tobacco/nicotine use, after all. They presume to be qualified to tell everyone in the whole world what they should be doing regarding tobacco. Yet they are apparently so ignorant of the most important tobacco issue of the day that they have something to learn from a one-page summary of the topic.
It never ceases to be amazing to observe with how little wisdom the world is governed.
It turns out, however, that such profound ignorance of even op-ed level knowledge of the topic is the best possible spin. The delegate who showed up bearing blog posts was assuming that his colleagues are trying to make sensible decisions that improve people’s lives. But as Snowdon pointed out, once a movement has accomplished its main rational goals, it distills down to fanatics (and, I will add, people who are just in it for the money). Nannying Tyrants speculates that some of them are probably driven by genuine mental illness. It is good to know that there is one delegate at the conference who actually reads, if only at the op-ed level. I wonder if he will be forcibly prevented from attending future meetings, as are all of the actual stakeholders in this process. After all, it is not a legitimate political process, it is a rally — the type of rally that gives the neighbors good reason to board up their windows and hide inside in anticipation of the hooligans returning to the street.