Criticising the Tobacco Control Movement
A public relations tactic employed by several controversial industries and their proponents is to try to paint their critics as extremist and irrational.
"Fanatics", "Taliban", "Zealots" and "Fascists" etc
On his blog Taking Liberties, Clark has denigrated some members of the tobacco control movement. Although Clark has argued that his language is more guarded than other pro-tobacco bloggers and "I certainly don't condone personal abuse or loose jibes about Nazis in relation to tobacco control", he has still engaged in such behaviour:
- In January 2012, he described Simon Chapman, a Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney, as a "zealot".
- In January 2012, Clark described the tobacco control movement as the "tobacco taliban".
- The previous month, July 2011, the blog contained the headline “Zealots on the march”.
- In June 2011, Clark attacked individual tobacco control activists as well as leading academics, as “zealots”. Commenting on the comments in response to a blog post by Liberal Vision Director, Angela Harbutt: “Anyway, the really remarkable thing is the appearance – in the comments – of some leading anti-smoking zealots, among them Martin Dockrell of ASH (still waiting for your call, Martin), Linda Bauld, who was then at Bath University, and Robert West of Cancer Research UK.”
- In July 2011, Clark ran a blog entitled “Rod Liddle on health fascists”.
- In May 2011, Clark labelled ASH Scotland “state-sponsored bullies”.
Linking to Threats Against Academics
In September 2011, Clark linked his blog to an article by blogger Frank Davis. Davis' article contained direct threats against academic Linda Bauld (more extensively detailed at her page), warning that:
- Those nasty emails and phone calls you’ve been getting weren’t organised or planned by anyone. I shouldn’t worry about them too much. It’s just the trailing edge of the swarm, like the zephyrs on the perimeter of a hurricane. But they’re not going to stop. They’re going to become more and more frequent. You should start worrying when bricks start getting thrown through your window, or messages daubed on your door. They won’t be planned or organised either. They’ll just happen.
Davis also advised Bauld to leave her job and emigrate:
- That way, you’ll be out of the country and maybe even living under a new name when your old university department gets torched, and your old colleagues are strung up from lamp posts.
Simon Clark called Davis' article "stunning".
Against Plain Packaging
Clark is against plain packaging, writing that the
- arguments for plain packaging are built on a number of fallacies. One is that packaging equals advertising. If this was true 'coloured' packs would have been outlawed at the same time as tobacco advertising but no-one, not even tobacco control, thought to argue that branded packs represent anything other than a means to distinguish between different brands (a minimum requirement in a free market).
- Another fallacy is that cigarettes are sold in 'glitzy' packaging designed to entice young people to start smoking ... Furthermore the expression 'plain packs' is highly misleading. There is nothing plain about plain packaging. The Australian government has decided that the colour of all packs should be a deliberately unattractive olive green (or drab green as it became known when olive growers complained!).
"It's a Farce"
In response to the consultation Clark said:
- The consultation on plain packaging threatens to be a farce. Andrew Lansley says he is open minded yet he clearly supports plain packaging even before the consultation has begun ... Plain packaging is another step towards the denormalisation of a legal product. It is yet another attack on ten million adult consumers. The consultation on plain packaging has nothing to do with health. It's all about Andrew Lansley. The health secretary is using the consultation to curry favour with health professionals, many of whom are less than impressed with the changes he is making to the NHS
In April, prior to the consultation, Clark also called plain packaging: the persecution of a minority lifestyle. 
Following the end of the consultation, a Freedom of Information request sent to the Department of Health (DH) asking to see correspondence between the DH and the tobacco industry resulted in a number of documents being made public. Included in these documents was correspondence between the Department of Health and Simon Clark which revealed a number of concerns about the legitimacy of the 235,000 signatories of the Hands Off Our Packs petition that was submitted to the consultation. Complaints had been made by members of the public about the methods used to gather signatures and a concern had been raised by a DH official who witnessed a Hands Off Our Packs campaigner forge a number of signatories to the petition (For more detailed information see Hands Off Our Packs or our blog piece on the FOI requests).
- ↑ Forest Website, Frequently asked questions, undated, accessed 11 June 2011
- ↑ Imperial Tobacco, Stakeholder Panel, Accessed April 2012
- ↑ The Free Society, Columnists: Simon Clark, undated, accessed 11 June 2011
- ↑ Simon Clark, Comment Posted in Response to "Only One Word To Describe Stephen Williams MP - Pathetic, 18 January 2012, accessed January 2012
- ↑ Simon Clark, Simon Clark: when is a Liberal not a liberal?, Hands Off Our Packs website, 30 January 2012
- ↑ Simon Clark, "Satisfied customer" responds to anti-smoking zealot, Taking Liberties Blog, 28 January 2012
- ↑ Simon Clark, "The BBC thanks ... Cecilia Farren", Taking Liberties Blog, 5 January 2012
- ↑ Simon Clark, The road to prohibition, Taking Liberties Blog, 15 August 2011
- ↑ Simon Clark, Zealots on the March, Taking Liberties Blog, 5 July 2011
- ↑ Simon Clark, ASH's Credibility Goes Up in Smoke, Taking Liberties, 24 June, 2011
- ↑ Simon Clark, “Rod Liddle on health fascists”, Taking Liberties Blog, 15 July, 2011, accessed January 2012
- ↑ Simon Clark, "ASH Scotland: the bully state in action", Taking Liberties blog, 9 May 2011, accessed January 2012
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Simon Clark, Hold the front page!, 3 September 2011 (link at page bottom), accessed January 2012
- ↑ Frank Davis Letter to Linda, 3 September 2011, accessed January 2012
- ↑ Simon Clark, "The year ahead", 1 January 2012, accessed January 2012
- ↑ Forest, Plain Packaging Consultation 'Threatens to be a Farce', 13 April 2012
- ↑ Christopher Thompson, "Big Tobacco Hits Out at 'Big Mother'", Financial Times, 7-8 April 2012, p4
- ↑ GTNF ANTWERP 2012: Look who is talking and what they are talking about, GTNF 2012 website, accessed 6 April 2012