cigarette pack Tobacco (plus booze, gambling, fat and vaping) control "Superhero"
whinges because some think he's a loathsome, intrusive putz.
cigarette pack

Found it perfectly in character for those delegates invited to the FCTC meeting held in Seoul in 2012, and again in Moscow last year, to vote unanimously for it to be held in camera. After all those who compiled the treaty fully intended it to be undemocratic and to stomp all over the principles of transparency, freedom of speech and of association.

People at the very top of tobacco control are thought - by some - to be hugely influential and even revered in some circles. Actually our very own Australian non-dom - Andrew Black of the Department of Health - is first rate Mandarin material. A true bureaucrat, so first class travel, the very best rooms, massive expense accounts and perks to die for. On his say-so substantial funds can be transferred to any anti-smoking cause with a half plausible notion, as happened when he gave £468,500 to Smoke Free South West to encourage the public to vote for plain packs (01).

People like Andrew live in a bubble of their own making. They have flunkies to do their bidding and that includes going through all correspondence to weed out anything that may irritate. But that's not the case with every bit-player in the Tobacco Control Game.

And when I discover an interesting article that's supposed to be accessible only to registered health professionals, I like to take a peek. It's a self-pitying whine, however it's not widely available on the web and I feel - in the interests of transparency - it should. In full.

It was published on this place (02) and regurgitated on this one (03), where their security isn't up to scratch. So here's the entire article:

'Internet vermin' target health advocates.

Medical Observer Wednesday 08 April 2015, 9:35AM

Prominent health activist Professor Mike Daube suspects commercial interests may be behind some of the anonymous forces using social media to abuse and intimidate public health advocates.

The Curtin University professor, who chaired the committee that recommended plain packaging of tobacco in Australia, says the vitriol dished out by nameless attackers could have a chilling effect on individuals' readiness to speak out about the health impacts of alcohol, tobacco and other social ills.

"I do think it's getting to the stage where people in public health are at risk of being intimidated out of it," Professor Daube told Medical Observer.

"I have certainly been the target of very unpleasant blogs, tweets and direct emails, replete with [obscene language]. It's no fun having those coming into your in box."

He cited the example of a young Australian researcher who stopped commenting publicly about electronic cigarettes after being lashed by "internet vermin".

"We want to encourage more young people into public health, but if they are going to hit this kind of intimidation I really do worry," he said.

'Nastier' dimension of social media

While vested interests have always conducted smear campaigns against their critics, social media has added a new, nastier dimension because it allowed people to operate anonymously and coordinate attacks behind the scenes.

"Good and decent people are being targeted by trolls as well as all the different groups... industry [and] so-called think tanks with undisclosed funding sources.

"You've got stuff coming at you from all these different directions." While there is no way of knowing whether commercial interests are coordinating some of the attacks, "it defies belief" that companies are not involved, he said.

Writing in the current issue of the Medical Journal of Australia, Professor Daube says the effect on individuals who are targeted in this way is both wearying and distressing.

"My perception from working across problems including tobacco, alcohol, obesity and gambling is that in recent years public health advocates have been subjected to increasing levels of personal abuse, from industry organisations and their allies through to social media," he wrote.

Speaking out may attract more abuse

"I find it hard to believe that at least some of this is not planned and orchestrated."

Professor Daube told MO he had weighed up whether to speak out about the trolling issue, considering it might attract more abuse.

"Being a target is not fun, and this [article] in the short term may mean more of it," he said.

"I'm not on Twitter because I don't want to have all that malicious stuff coming my way."

But the only recourse was for victims of such internet attacks to report them and try to expose the people behind the abuse, he said.

"I think we need to expose it. We need to expose some of the people behind it, and we need to encourage and support younger people in advocacy," he said.

Fortunately for Mike Daube, who's apparently a Professor of Public Health Policy, he's so insignificant that precious few have ever heard the name outside of Australia. However it seems that Curtin University thinks otherwise, here's their description:

"There are real superheroes living among us. This is Mike Daube, and he's here to help save lives" (04).

It seems that Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia has a dearth of role models, for all I see is a very forgettable late middle-age solipsist with a piss-poor barber, who needs to learn to use tweezers on those eyebrows as well as the nose and ears. The fact he bears a remarkable resemblance to Dr Harold Shipman - another narcissist - is purely coincidental (05).

Daube's co-authored a raft of publications, except in 2012 when he did a stack of them all on his own (06). Curtin University is ranked at 453 out of 500 by the NTU Ranking on scientific papers (07), with Curtin receiving below average in each category, placing it several notches below Bath University (417), which is also known to be a breeding ground for Common Purpose types and also happens to be at the forefront of tobacco control (08).

And in a highly competitive field, this may be the reason why Curtin has tried to make a big issue of having Daube on their team. He's credited with being the man behind plain packs as well as that wonderful initiative of taxing tobacco out of the reach of the less well off. In this article Mike's being quoted in his capacity as President of the Australian Council of Smoking and Health (09). And that's your standard issue taxpayer funded pressure group designed to lobby government (10).

However Mike doesn't limit his wish to simply preventing people from smoking, he's real big on alcohol as well. In that role he's also Director of the Public Health Advocacy Institute and the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth and Co-Chair of the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (11)! Now that's quite an achievement for someone who only happens to have passed one single degree course. A BA (Hons) at the University of Reading - and they don't even bother listing him on their Outstanding Alumni pages (12)!

So the guy's spent his entire career flitting around doing the same thing - advocacy. Advocacy being a nice way of describing control. And he's created a stack of taxpayer funded entities with terribly impressive titles for top jobs... that he fills. Advocacy's been good to Mike and for sure he'd love to "encourage and support younger people in advocacy", however they'll have to wait quite some time for the really lucrative top jobs because Mike's got the lot!

On the other hand it seems remarkably naive to assume that everyone likes Mike. The guy's responsible for those photographs on every tobacco container, for extracting money from people's pockets and for pricing the less well off out of the market. Not just tobacco, he thinks there are real health risks to gambling as well as booze - and not content with that, he bellows on about snacks, treats, convenience foods as well as the usual fat, salt, calories and such.

And he's opposed to vaping, not because these devices are terribly dangerous, no the reasons he gives for helping to make them illegal in Western Australia is because they allow people to smoke in places they otherwise can't! Oh and they look like fags and the pretty ones may prove a gateway to youngsters to take up vaping, then move on to real cigarettes (13).

So the list of people with just reason to sound off at Mike is pretty impressive. But he doesn't like it one bit and he'd love for everyone to quit hiding behind pseudonyms or anonymity. Well Mike it's like this fella, we're not paid from the public purse, nor are we seeking public office, so no we don't need to do jacksy. And there's no guiding hand, there's no collusion amongst bloggers, just a bunch of us who loathe and detest people like yourself (14): turgid social misfits with not the slightest clue of what it's like in the real world.

I never write to them, it takes almost as much time as a post and most likely won't be read. On the other hand a post remains here for as long as I wish and it'll be seen by several dozen over the next six months. Whether they want to link, repost, ignore or whatever is their choice. Add in all the robots and it'll be on hundreds of databases as well, where it'll remain in perpetuity. Far more satisfying - and has the advantage of helping to make our ever so slightly emotionally traumatized Daube seem clairvoyant as well!

Although I doubt he gets very many email complaints, hats off to those who took the time to prick his supercilious bubble!
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Smoking Scot
May 2015