News & Comment

Health minister should decline WHO award

Fri 27th May, 2016

Forest has urged public health minister Jane Ellison to "politely decline" an award she has been given by the World Health Organisation to mark World No Tobacco Day [Tuesday 31st May].

According to the anti-smoking group ASH, the WHO Director-General Special Award "recognises her political leadership and determination in overseeing the introduction of a major public health reform, standardised ‘plain’ packaging of tobacco, and her ongoing commitment to tobacco control."
 
Simon Clark, director of Forest, said, "No politician should accept an award from any tobacco control organisation.
 
"In order to be seen to be fair, impartial and objective, Jane Ellison should politely but publicly decline this dubious accolade."
 
Responding to comments by Deborah Arnott, CEO of ASH [1], he added:
 
"I'm not surprised ASH are delighted by the award. After all, they receive funding from Ellison's department!" [2]
 
Commenting on the theme of this year's World No Tobacco Day ('Get ready for plain packaging'), Clark said:
 
"Plain packaging is being promoted as a means to discourage children from smoking. 
 
"There's no evidence it will have any impact on youth smoking rates. It will however fuel the war on legitimate consumers who are being discriminated against and treated abominably.
 
"Plain packaging of tobacco could also become a template for similar measures on alcohol and sugary drinks.
 
"The public health industry is out of control and must be reined in before some of the small freedoms we enjoy are take away from us completely."
 
[1] ASH press release - 'Public health minister Jane Allison awarded WHO medal':
 
[2] Answer to written parliamentary question: The Department of Health will provide a grant of £150,000 to Action on Smoking and Health in the 2015/16 financial year. This grant is awarded under Section 64 of the Health and Social Care Act 1968.

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