What about the deaths caused by the industry Lynton Crosby works for?


by Tim Fenton    
9:23 am - July 22nd 2013

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You have to hand it to Lynton Crosby. He initiates the press briefing that Labour are somehow responsible for 13,000 avoidable and unnecessary deaths in NHS hospitals, despite the review he’s referring to taking place years after they left power, yet dodges the heat over rather larger numbers of avoidable deaths perpetrated by an industry on whose behalf he has been intervening.


Copyright Steve Bell 2013

Yes, Lynton shills not only for Cameron, but also for Big Oil, and for Big Tobacco. And, as I pointed out yesterday, last week’s briefings about the Keogh Review had his fingerprints all over them: crude, dog-whistle stuff, flagrantly dishonest, and of a standard that guarantees a leap from gutter directly into sewer.

But, when it comes to avoidable deaths, numbers like 13,000 over several years pale into insignificance when compared to the malign effects of Big Tobacco. Cancer Research UK estimated that smoking-related diseases, including cancers and heart disease, resulted in a whopping 102,000 premature deaths in 2009 alone. Many of those involved treatment in one or more NHS facilities.

So it might be thought that any responsible Government would want to make inroads into that number, not only to prevent deaths, but also reduce the cost to the NHS, and therefore the taxpayer. But that thought would be misplaced, as with Crosby present behind the scenes at 10 Downing Street, the Government has ducked its responsibilities and caved in to industry pressure.

Lynton Crosby also works for Philip Morris, the company that brings the world Marlboro (among other brands). And despite the stonewalling of Cameron’s spokesman this week, plus the usual – and utterly ineffective – attempts at deflection from Grant “Spiv” Shapps, the conflict of interest is only less than obvious to someone who would rather not see it.

Moreover, as The Australian has pointed out, recent research shows that smokers using plain packets perceive the content to be of lower quality, and as a result are more likely to look to quit the habit. Even a marginal impact – given that figure of over 100,000 smoking related deaths in 2009 – would mean thousands of lives saved.

A YouGov poll found that 58% of the population back plain packaging, and a mere 18% think it OK that Crosby should be able to represent both the tobacco industry and the Tory Party. On top of all that, Cameron again ducked the question of Crosby’s involvement when questioned directly on it by Andrew Marr yesterday morning.


A longer version of this post is here.

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Tim is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He blogs more frequently at Zelo Street
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Reader comments


1. Northern Worker

Regardless of where you stand on smoking and plain packets, the arguments used by campaigners for this and other obsessions – obesity, salt, trans fats, porn, alcohol, fast foods, dangerous sports … etc – are always framed in the same way. The cost to the NHS is always prominent, or ‘for the children’, or ‘avoidable deaths’, and the ultimate weapon that ‘a majority want to ban something’. All of this is spun and uses bent statistics or better still computer models.

Justification always uses the same template. I particularly like the ‘avoidable deaths’ one because it sounds like we’ll live forever if we do what big brother tells us. You can’t avoid death.

The best of the lot, though, is because a majority is in favour of banning something. Unless the majority is overwhelming, and I believe over 20% smoke, it’s the tyranny of the majority, which as Mr Morsi has just found out doesn’t work in practice.

As for Lynton Crosby, does anyone know if he is still a lobbyist? Or did he give it all up when he took the King’s shilling? If he didn’t then once again Cameron has shown his personal lack of judgement, as he did with Coulson.

2. the a&e charge nurse

Lynton may be amorality personified, the sort of character who regards life as something that exists simply to bring him closer to ever growing pots of money – problem is psychopaths are said to populate 10% of the upper strata and if one goes, rather like terrorists two jump up to replace them.

3. Some_History

The current antismoking crusade, very much in the eugenics tradition, is much like previous crusades. It is a moralizing, social-engineering, eradication/prohibition crusade decided upon in the 1970s by a small, self-installed clique of [medically-oriented] fanatics operating under the auspices of the World Health Organization (see the Godber Blueprint http://www.rampant-antismoking.com ). This little, unelected group, using much the same inflammatory rhetoric of its fanatical predecessors, decided for everyone that tobacco-use should be eradicated from the world. These fanatics were speaking of secondhand smoke “danger” years before the first study on SHS, together with advocating indoor and OUTDOOR smoking bans: Secondhand smoke “danger” is a concoction to advance the social-engineering agenda, i.e., inflammatory propaganda. The zealots’ goal this time is not to ban the sale of tobacco but to ban smoking in essentially all the places that people smoke. Up until recently the social-engineering intent has been masqueraded as protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke “danger”. But even this fraud is no longer viable in that bans are now being instituted for large outdoor areas such as parks, beaches, campuses where there is no demonstrable “health” issue for nonsmokers. This dangerous mix of the medically-aligned attempting social engineering is a throwback to a century ago. We seem to have learned nothing of value from very painful lessons of only the recent past.

“But even this fraud is no longer viable in that bans are now being instituted for large outdoor areas such as parks, beaches, campuses where there is no demonstrable “health” issue for nonsmokers.”

I half agree with you, but it’s the LITTER I can’t stand.
The bloody LITTER.

Smokers should be forced to swallow their butts!

Some History. The major reason cigarettes were banned from beaches is because of the butt ends. They were causing to much litter and that goes for parks too.
Once they said cigarettes were healthy and so tried to encouraged everyone to take this up. If they hadn’t encouraged it in the first place then maybe the millions of people that took it up wouldn’t have.
Yet go to some third world countries and these same tobacco companies are handing out free cigarettes to get people hooked into buying them .

There is a big diference between deaths caused in the NHS by negligence and deaths cuased by smokers who know full well the dangers involved. Don’t see how you can compare the two.

Also the tax on tobacco more than makes up for the extra cost to the NHS, not to mention the savings on pensions due to reduced life expectancy.

So, what do you think we could expect from a left wing ‘liberal’ government(an oxymoron – the left thrives on illiberality)?

A total ban on the sale of tobacco? If not, why not? You cite the ‘evidence’ complete with hand wringing and finger pointing. Could it be, contrary to stated above, that income from tobacco duty far exceeds claimed NHS cost of treating so called smoking relate diseases?

Good grief – say it ain’t so. An election strategist heavily involved in public health discourse (which, frankly, is governmental mission creep on an epic scale) is advising on scenario testing for the various consequences of outrageous governmental policy based on flawed evidence, incompetent oversight and philosophical hogwash! No!

Whatever next?

Avoidable deaths? Pull the other one – if I want to smoke what the chuff is it some bird brained MP to do anything else than advise me not to do so, rather than tax me to kingdom come and then grandstand, crow and generally engage in conceited politicking on the back of it?

Grow up.

9. Some_History

Ah, the “death tolls”, the bread and butter of the zealots. You seem to be a true believer in the “numbers”. Do you have any grasp of how those tobacco“death tolls” are arrived at? They occur in a statistical fantasy world. Sitting behind a desk in air-conditioned comfort, with a long series of untenable assumptions and the click of a few keystrokes, you can generate “tolls” galore, all of them meaningless.

But, unfortunately, there are believers.

“Victims” are critical…. indispensable… to the “society fixer” zealot. Hence the “death tolls”. Having established the “death toll” of victims, the zealots can then interpose themselves as bringers of “salvation”, indicating all sorts of “remedies”.

The antismoking fanatics were plucking “tolls” out of thin air, embellished with their inflammatory rhetoric, from over a century ago. For example:
“I have somewhere seen it stated, that a college of physicians had said, that some fifteen or twenty thousand among us, were every year sent to their graves by Tobacco”. p.43
Thoughts and Stories on TOBACCO, for American Lads (1852)
http://tinyurl.com/lyrkewt

Early in the 1900’s it was some church groups (e.g., Methodist Episcopal Church’s Board of Temperance, Prohibition, and Public Morals) that considered nicotine as a “killer of babies.” The “controversy” was picked up by the New York Times in two stories. In one story it was claimed that 40 babies from a New York maternity hospital “suffered from tobacco heart caused by the cigaret smoking of their mothers.” In the other it was claimed that “sixty percent of all babies born of cigaret-smoking mothers die before they reach the age of two, due primarily to nicotine poisoning.” (Journal of the American Medical Association, 1929, p.123)

These days, the zealots don’t just pluck tobacco “death tolls” out of thin air. They use flimsy statistics – that were introduced by eugenicists early last century for the purpose of population control – with a bastardized version of “causal argument”. With a computer, one can generate meaningless “tolls” all day long.

10. Some_History

Are all tolls the same. Absolutely not. I would refer you to the current thread at the following for the critical differences between the so-called “tobacco toll” and the medically-produced death toll (i.e., iatrogenesis):
http://f2cscotland.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/dangers-to-life-and-public-health-lobby.html

11. Paul peter Smith

Cigarette butts are amongst the most bio-degradeable industrial products ever devised, they take about a year to decompose. OK a few hedgehogs may get addicted and nicotine compounds are very effective pesticides but surley thats a small price to pay in exchange for billions in tax revenue and approx. 100,000 people a year not troubling the nations over stretched pension funds.

12. Richard Carey

These anti-smoking puritans make Olly Cromwell look like a cavalier.

Plain packs won’t save anyone. Electronic cigarettes will, at least a million in the UK and counting. Nicotine is not carcinogenic and has no tar and there’s no litter or SHS.

It’s a bit hypocritical to accuse David Cameron of giving in to the tobacco lobby, when it’s the left and greens in the EU have voted to make e cigs a medicine which is tantamount to a ban. So e cig users will be forced back to smoking. CRUK are just as bad. They have agreed with MHRA, that e cigs should be classed as a medicine.

Time to do away with this quit or die nonsense and go for harm reduction in the form of e cigs and snus. Sweden has lower rates of smoking and of lung cancer. It’s the only country in the EU where it’s legal to use snus.

14. Paul peter Smith

Lynne
There is some interesting lobbying going on at the moment concerning E-cigs, I’ve no idea if Lynton Crosby is involved. The market leaders in E-cigs are independant of big tobacco, some of the proposed changes to production/distribution requirements allegedly to ‘protect’ the public will only really serve to sweep away the little guys and leave room for big tobacco to takeover the only growth smoking market in the West.

15. Some_History

PPS,
You’ve obviously never heard of Gigantic Pharma. Pharmaceutical companies and Pharma-“philanthropy” (e.g., Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) with an interest in the sales of next-to-useless and dangerous “smoking cessation” wares (e.g., nicotine patches, gum; Chantix) have pumped billions of dollars into antismoking over the last few decades. Through extortionate taxes on tobacco and baseless smoking bans, there is progressively more pressure on smokers to quit, who are in turn directed by the medical establishment to use Pharma products.

E-cigs are the new kid on the block that wanted to take a share of the quitting market without any investment in “cultivating” the market. Pharma was having none of that. It wants the entire contrived “cessation market” to itself. So there is now a concerted effort, typically by individuals/groups that receive Pharma funding, to shove e-cigs out of the picture.

It’s just another symptom that the medical industrial complex is dangerously out of control.

16. Richard Carey

@ Lynn,

well said.

@ 14 PPSmith,

as per bleeding usual. Regulation is almost always favourable to big business and to the detriment of smaller companies (and the principle of competition and economic freedom).

Unfortunately, people of the left-wing never seem to grasp this, so they are constantly clamouring for regulation and government intervention, and don’t realise how they are useful idiots for the very interests they believe they oppose. Big business constantly uses the ploy of ‘please don’t throw me in the briar patch’, and the left-wingers always fall for it.

What the Bloody Hell are they all moaning for ?

We are all going to die one day. Even all those greedy parasites will not take their LOOT with them.

Burn in Hell I Say !

18. Churm Rincewind

@ the OP:

1) “…Lynton Crosby…initiates the press briefing that Labour are somehow responsible for 13,000 avoidable and unnecessary deaths in NHS hospitals…”

Do you have any evidence for that assertion? Your post of yesterday simply says that it was “crude…and…clumsy, so it has to be Crosby”, which amounts to little more than unsubstantiated personal prejudice.

2) “Yes, Lynton shills…for Big Tobacco.” Again, do you have any evidence for that? Certainly Crosby Textor did work for Philip Morris in Australia at one time in the past? Does it still?

3) “As The Australian has pointed out, recent research shows that smokers using plain packets perceive the content to be of lower quality, and as a result are more likely to look to quit the habit.” This research was carried out by the antismoking group QuitVictoria. Similar research carried out by British American Tobacco finds that plain packaging has had no impact on cigarette sales. I think we can safely be sceptical of both. Cameron is right – the evidence is still unclear.

@ (5) Steven M:

“The major reason cigarettes were banned from beaches is because of the butt ends.” Well, no, that wasn’t the primary reason. For a considered view, see http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/07/the-real-reasons-behind-public-smoking-bans.html

Of course, when it’s cannabis that’s under discussion, the liberal left (cf LiberalConspiracy) tends to take a “hands-off” view, but when it’s tobacco, authoritarian views tend to prevail, as in this OP.

This is because smoking marijuana is predominantly a middle-class recreation, while smoking cigarettes is majoritatively confined to the working class and the poor.

And I think we can all agree that their views don’t count.

19. Bill Chapman

Cameron clearly did not realise that lobbying was going to be the next scandal to happen.

The issue here is not smoking. It is having a paid lobbyist at the hearty of governm,ent.

Hypocrisy and double standards are nothing then? Cameron’s stated aims to fight smoking and the diseases it causes, set against his u-turn on plain packaging while employing a top PR for the tobacco industry?

Labour would be crucified by you faux-libertarian Tory scum if they did anything like this.

@20 – exactly. Crosby didn’t lobby Cameron, he told him that he was a prick for even attempting to push the policy through. Whey hey – we’re all in agreement, for the first time ever!

“Cigarette butts are amongst the most bio-degradable industrial products ever devised, they take about a year to decompose.”

Dog shit is biodegradable.

Doesn’t mean I like looking at it!

“surely that’s a small price to pay in exchange for billions in tax revenue and approx. 100,000 people a year not troubling the nations over stretched pension funds”

I take your point!

23. Paul peter Smith

@15
I particularly like big pharma’s Sterin racket, if only they could get a few more like that going they might be able to fund some.actual medically useful stuff – like anti-biotics (no money in curing people in a week or two)

24. Churm Rincewind

@ (20) Cherub:

“Hypocrisy and double standards are nothing then? Cameron’s stated aims to fight smoking and the diseases it causes, set against his u-turn on plain packaging while employing a top PR for the tobacco industry?

Labour would be crucified by you faux-libertarian Tory scum if they did anything like this.”

Sigh. As I noted in my post above, there is no authentic evidence that plain packaging reduces cigarette smoking. Indeed, the best research (which comes from the US) is that graphic labelling of gruesome images of the results of smoking is far more effective. So the limited amount of available evidence would seemingly suggest that the introduction of plain packaging would be counterproductive if the aim is to encourage people to quit.

You also say that Lynton Crosby is “a top PR for the tobacco industry”. Would you care to cite any evidence for this – i.e. that he or his company are currently retained by any tobacco companies? Or did you just make it up?

Finally, I may be faux-libertarian scum, but I do object to being called a Tory.

25. Richard Carey

@ 20

“Hypocrisy and double standards are nothing then?”

Certainly nothing new.

As for the ‘faux-libertarian Tory scum’, I doubt you’ll find anyone willing to stand up as a proud member of that particular political sub-set. Besides, on this particular issue, the faux-libertarians are on the same side as the vrai-libertarians, if these former stand against the silly idea of plain packaging. Unfortunately, being Tory scum, they cannot be relied upon to hold the line, so perhaps if big pharma provide up a fatter brown envelope than big tobacco, you shall have your legislation after all.

26. Man on Clapham Omnibus

So we are not a democracy and we are run by the rich. Tell me something I dont know!

27. the a&e charge nurse

The road toward covert privatisation of the NHS would have been less easy had it not been been oiled by the Crosbys of this world.

I’m sure millions of people will continue their smoking habit – but if Crosby & Co get their way don’t bank on a health service that is comprehensive, universal and free at the point of the delivery when various deadly health problems develop.

Crozza is no more than a cipher for the behind the scenes army of movers and shakers who are so determined to enrich the fat cats.
http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/stuart-weir/double-betrayal-review-of-nhs-sos

at what point are people allowed to enjoy life? people will quit their habits when they outgrow them and i say this as a former long time smoker. saying that people working in public service while shilling for big oil/tobacco/supermarkets etc should be made to answer for their real motivations

So what yer saying is that the Tories might be less nanny state about ciggies, but are chugging full steam ahead with internet-censoring nanny state instead?

31. Richard Carey

@ 29 Cylux,

we need one of those ‘faux-libertarian Tory scum’ to explain this apparent contradiction.

Not for nothing – but tax on fags works because Golden Virginia rolling baccy is significantly better quality product when not brought back from a buddy who’s been on jollies. Just a thing but it’s over £8 a packet of fags these days! It could be argued that’s a bit more expensive than tea and it’s the same field. It’s a bit like petrol inflation – you can only push people so far.

Government loves us smokers and the good will shown through acceptance of the smoking ban should be respected. The counterfeiting market is hughmungous – ffs, if i’m gonna pay top dollar I want decent baccy.

33. Shatterface

Deaths by smoking are avoidable – but not blameless. And much of that blame lies at the feet of those who choose to smoke. The harm caused by tobacco has been rrammed down the public’s throats and nobody can reasonably claim they didn’t know: the price you pay for choice is the consequences of those choices.

The ‘avoidable deaths’ that occured in the NHS are not brought on by the victims themselves, though: they are a direct consequence of government policies, staff incompetence and administrative bungling.

“Faux-libertarian Tory” seems to have thrown a few of the dunderheads. So much for self-awareness, they obviously just incubate the memes they pick up from AstroTurf websites run by the Koch Brothers.

Peddling addictive drugs is the fault of the people who become addicted is it, Shatterface?

The bleakness and unwitting inhumanity of all your philosophies appals me.

The one thing that always puzzles me is how you all see this libertarian future benefitting you? Do you see yourselves as the winners in that lottery? Because those billionaires who’s agenda you’re following don’t.

35. Churm Rincewind

@ (33) Cherub:

“Peddling addictive drugs is the fault of the people who become addicted is it, Shatterface?”

I’m sure Shatterface is entirely capable of answering for himself, but in the meantime I would simply note that besides nicotine there are a number of other addictive substances which are widely and legally available in spite of their being damaging to health, such as caffeine, alcohol, and inhalants, but which don’t seem to be subject to similar obloquy. I wonder why not?

Well actually I don’t wonder at all. If the Government were to legislate against all those who peddle addictive substances, I guess they’d have to move against pubs, clubs, coffee shops, tea rooms, DIY stores – the list is endless, not to mention the thousands of local shops who sell caffeine-rich carbonated drinks to children.

This is not as outlandish a policy as it may seem. The Taliban, for example, have been extremely active in banning the sale of addictive substances, though curiously they exempt nicotine.

On behalf of faux-libertarian scum everywhere, I say let the people decide for themselves.

“On behalf of faux-libertarian scum everywhere, I say let the people decide for themselves.”

Well I might too. The point you have so strenuously avoided is that Cameron agreed that smoking should be discouraged by government policies and that plain packaging should be introduced. Then along comes Crosby and the policy changes! And Crosby is PR for big tobacco!

All just coincidental, no doubt.

37. Richard Carey

@ Cherub,

“The bleakness and unwitting inhumanity of all your philosophies appals me.”

Funnily enough, this is close to how I feel about the latter-day saints of puritan control-freakery, such as yourself, perhaps.

@31 I’m going to put my money on them being Conservatives and thus as equally authoritarian as their Labour counterparts, but with different hobby horses they like to ride instead.

This whole debate is a load of drivel. Whether cigarettes are plain package or not is irrelevant. I don’t smoke, not because it has anything to do with the packaging, but because I know it will kill me.

Thinking that by blanket banning an industries ability to advertise in the name of some imaginary ‘public good’ smacks of authoritarianism. Who cares? Don’t like cigarettes or their health effect? Don’t smoke. Don’t want your children smoking, educate them of the bad health effects and be vigilant.

People need to grow up and stop running to the government to tell them what to do. This entire argument and its infantile supporters seem to have the mental age of a toddler.

40. Churm Rincewind

@ (36) Cherub

“The point you have so strenuously avoided is that Cameron agreed that smoking should be discouraged by government policies and that plain packaging should be introduced. Then along comes Crosby and the policy changes! And Crosby is PR for big tobacco!”

Well, let me address these points now. First, Cameron certainly did agree that smoking should be discouraged. But I can’t trace any evidence for your claim that he agreed that plain packaging should be introduced. Rather, the Government committed in 2011 to “look at” whether plain packaging could be effective. Which they did, and in the event took the view, rightly or wrongly, that current evidence is insufficient to justify legislation.

Second, you say that Crosby is “PR for big tobacco”. Again I can trace no evidence for this claim. As I pointed out before, it’s certainly true that his company has in the past acted for Philip Morris in Australia. But that doesn’t mean to say that he or his company are currently retained by any tobacco companies.

So unless you can provide some back-up evidence for your assertions I’m inclined to go along with the official version of events for the simple reason that it’s supported by the publicly available facts.

If you can prove me wrong I’ll be happy to eat my words.

30 db.

The big scandal is not Lynton Crosby and plain packs, but Anna Soubry, a junior minister who sneaked off to the EU and signed us up to the TPD without allowing it to be scrutinised by Parliament. She also said that e cigs had been dropped from the TPD. They haven’t. If the EU has it’s way, e cigs will be classed as medicines.

Come on though. By now everyone knows that smoking is bad for you. There are health warnings on the packs and everything. If you keep buying cigarettes after all that, it’s your look out. Enough has been done.

I really think it’s unacceptably authoritarian to insist on plain packaging. This is a legal product and the people buying it know what they’re risking. Plus, I quite like the Camel packs.

45. Churm Rincewind

@ (41) Cherub:

You were right and I was wrong. Words duly eaten.


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