Clive Bates, former Head of ASH writes on Big Pharma, snus and E-Cigs

Clive Bates was the former head of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) . I am not entirely sure when he started, but I think 1997 and left in 2003. In Chris Snowdon’s masterpiece Velvet Glove, Iron Fist, A History of Anti-Smoking, here is a chance to buy it if you have not shamefully yet.

Clive’s gentle persuasion is credited with getting smoking rates down to 21% of the population.  He still is involved in a private capacity in wanting to reduce smoking rates and is an advocate of snus and e-cigarettes. Clive has been kind enough to post a couple of comments which I think deserve a broader audience.

“I’m in favour of e-cigarettes for the same reasons as I’m in favour of snus. Nicotine is a widely used drug and there is no reason to restrict its availability to only the most dangerous delivery systems. Plenty of reasons to allow smokers to adopt this alternative.”

“I stand by all of this. I was Director of ASH and we took the view then as now that smoking represents the single most serious public health problem and the biggest driver of health inequalities. Unlike the approach taken with drugs (criminalisation), we believe that a public health approach is justified – especially in the light of the addictiveness of smoking. Pharma approaches to help smokers over nicotine addiction are part of the response (if they work), but I’m as sceptical as anyone about the efficacy of pharma products. Smokeless tobacco is potentially more important given what we know from Sweden. I’ve no objection to ‘pharming’ and don’t remember voicing any.”

“It’s not a secret – we were trying to get smoke-free public places almost from the dawn of time. Huge volumes of misinformation were produced on all aspects of smoking and passive smoking by the tobacco industry and its bought up and slavish hacks. No surprise surely…”

Pharma approaches to help smokers over nicotine addiction are part of the response (if they work), but I’m as sceptical as anyone about the efficacy of pharma products.


Thanks Clive for your frank comments.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Clive Bates, former Head of ASH writes on Big Pharma, snus and E-Cigs

  1. I noticed something on facebook: when you say “Champix & Zyban” to any of the pharma trolls, it works on them like garlic on vampires 🙂 ALL ASH agencies in the world are BiG Pharma Agencies. ALL heart, lung and cancer associtaions as well)

  2. Nicorette (J&J), nicotinell (Novartis) and niquitin (GSK) are nothing than pure nicotine. They sell tons of them, and of course it does not bring anybody away from good old tobacco! They just want want to sell their OWN Nicotinbe products and take natural tobacco off the market. I am very surprised about these quotes, as they DO want to eliminate ANY nicotine products that do not come from themselves, including SNUS and e-cigs.

    Any ´way, stop buying your tobacco from Big Tobacco, it would be as if you bought your tomatoes from Monsanto: buy natural, biological tobacco, like american spirit or manitou, grow it yourself or join the german tobacco growers association .
    More over these quotes must be very old, as Zyban was already on the market oin 1998, and suicides caused by ZYBAN / WELLBUTRIN (Bupropion) were already well known in those days.

    The ZYBAN main effects street shooting, street rage, family murders and miscarriages began to become well known as the CHAMPIX scandals became public in 2008 and 2009.

    Both poisons have got the strongest FDA warning in 2009, and the cpnsation law files against PFIZER by the CHAMPIX victims relatives and survivors have been running for 2 yrs already in Canada and the USA (Birmingham, Alabama).

    I think it is very important to warn ALL politicians about these numerous deaths (including street rage and school shootings, because for them, pahrma lobbyism ist normal… they get scared though, when they realize the proportions of the desaster… and the crime against humanity happening here.

  3. A simple view says:

    I find it difficult to believe any person of reasonable intelligence can really support Agencies like
    ASH. Their motives are hollow shams behind resonable aspirations,their financial backing wide open to suspicion,their deceptions and half truths void of impartial judgement.
    Using weak willed politicians to enforce their will on large sections of the population surely
    illustrates the demise of representative democracy,the demolition of concensus procedure
    and law based on reason and factual evidence
    The very fact that no major political party ever gave manifest to totalitarian blanket bans proves
    beyond doubt the depth to which pressure groups and MPs have stooped.
    Just shows though,bigotry and incitement to hatred are still popular even endorsed by the liberal

  4. visit and search

  5. Rose says:

    Clive Bates was the former head of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) . I am not entirely sure when he started, but I think 1997 and left in 2003

    Green campaigner and marketing specialist to take charge at ASH
    16 June 1997

    “The new Director of ASH, Action on Smoking and Health, has started work. Clive Bates joins ASH just as the political temperature surrounding tobacco control policy is rising sharply. He comes to ASH having previously worked for Greenpeace as a campaigner and the computer company, IBM, as a marketing specialist.

    Bates is enthusiastic about the role; “It’s a great time to be coming in. The new Government really wants to do something about the 300 deaths every day from tobacco-related disease. We want to push the tobacco control agenda as far as possible – for the first time in years, real progress looks likely”.

    “1n 1992, he started work for Greenpeace, specialising in energy, global warming and ozone protection, though also working as a lobbyist across a wide range of environmental concerns – including the Brent Spar and French nuclear testing. In 1996 he left Greenpeace to join an international campaign organisation, IIEC, working in Eastern Europe and lobbying in the Climate Convention.”

    In this letter to the Independent newspaper ( suggesting that a spell of freezing weather proves that Global Warming is real ),written 6 months before he took over as head of ASH, he signs himself – International Institute for Energy Conservation.

    January 1997

    LETTER : Freeze points to need for climate action

    “Sir: Paradoxically, a severe cold spell is a very appropriate moment for a robust lead article on global warming (4 January). However, the article implies that the recent cold weather is probably a natural variation from the trend of gradual temperature increases. That is certainly possible, but it could just as easily be a perverse consequence of global warming itself.

    The extra heat trapped by greenhouse gases changes the circulation of the atmosphere and may even disrupt major systems such as the Gulf Stream. If the changed circulation means that Britain gets more of its weather from the Arctic than from the Caribbean, global warming may cause local cooling.”


    International Institute for Energy Conservation–freeze-points-to-need-for-climate-action-1281949.html

  6. Rose says:

    It’s not a secret – we were trying to get smoke-free public places almost from the dawn of time

    I wonder if Clive Bates ever envisaged that his quest for “smoke-free public places” would end in the elderly and the sick forced to stand outside hospitals without shelter?

    Non-smoking areas were a perfectly civilised arrangement, which didn’t require the force of law.

    But the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

    [Article 8]

    24. This creates an obligation to provide universal protection by ensuring that all indoor public places, all indoor workplaces, all public transport and possibly other (outdoor or quasi-outdoor) public places are free from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. No exemptions are justified on the basis of health or law arguments.
    If exemptions must be considered on the basis of other arguments, these should be minimal. In addition, if a Party is unable to achieve universal coverage immediately,

    Article 8 creates a continuing obligation to move as quickly as possible to remove any exemptions and make the protection universal.”

    Click to access art%208%20guidelines_english.pdf

    I know that these appalling measures came after Clive Bates tenure, but he was party to laying the ground work.

    “Huge volumes of misinformation were produced on all aspects of smoking and passive smoking” “and its bought up and slavish hacks.”

    No truer words were spoken.

    “social denormalisation”

    “Hammond et al state that “social denormalisation” strategies seek “to change the broad social norms around using tobacco—to push tobacco use out of the charmed circle of normal, desirable practice to being an abnormal practice”.

    And how could anyone achieve that without turning ordinary decent people into undesirables, a fate they did not deserve?

    The silly thing is, if they had told me at school that inhaling the fumes of a newly lit safety match 40 times a day could result in serious damage to the lungs,I wouldn’t have questioned it, but no, they had to attack the plant.

    When you get to the bottom of it, those school lectures were only brought in after the government of the day accepted the smoking theory to distract from the 1200 deaths caused by pollution during the Great London Smog of 1952.
    Rather ironic that a former Global Warming campaigner should take a job perpetuating the deception.

  7. Junican says:

    Has Clive Bates not been ostracised and excommunicated yet, like Michael Siegel? I am surprised!

  8. Dave – thanks for giving prominence to my views… a few extra thoughts.
    On pharma products: if they help people quit, then that’s good. I just think everyone needs to start with scepticism, and let themselves be convinced by the evidence, such as it is. Many of them do work, but with quite low efficacy – they are anything but a panacea.
    On a libertarian view of smoking: informed free choice is greatly complicated by addiction. 67% smokers say they want to quit; 52% believe they will quit in the next two years, but only 6% do. Over 80% of smokers say they wish they had never started. The ‘rationale for intervention’ derives from great harms, addiction, usually starting as a juvenile, difficulty in quitting, and to some extent harms to third parties (all would give JS Mill cause for qualification from his default maxims).
    Rose – your point is? It is true I am not a new born baby and have had a career. I’m pretty happy with what I’ve done and said (mostly) so far. Climate change is all too real – get over it. The argument is about what to do, how much to pay, and how to adapt.
    Junican – thanks for your concern, but the public health community is quite diverse and I still have friends in the field to share my laments about the casual dismissal of evidence and apparent indifference to ethics of many former colleagues.
    If you want to see my views on snus (smokeless tobacco) and the way the public health community has dealt with it (clue – really badly), have a look at my blog “Death by regulation: the EU ban on low risk oral tobacco” – with some views on the public health community in the comments:

    • Hi Clive,

      When you ask the question ‘would you like to give up smoking’ I accept the answer of 67% is real, if not a touch higher. However, on the 7th April I spoke at the BMJ sponsored ‘Is smoking a disease or a habit.’ Antonella Cardone, Public Health Director, Global Smokefree Partnership Rome stated that too, but she also bemoaned that if you ask the same question, ‘within a month’ the answer falls to 20%. One dreads the per centages if we ask 1 week or today.

      I do not entirely take the view that ALL smokers are addicted. In the URL I have pasted in here are my notes, so apologies if my speech comes across a bit staccato but 2 points. 1. Professor Reuven Dar an expert in addiction dissents. 2. One of the papers cited by myself was from ASH Trustee Professor Martin Jarvis. After reviewing 7,766 smokers he found 16% were ‘hard core’ and 84% occasional to less habitual smokers. I know people who smoke once a week, down the pub and may go days or weeks without smoking again. Patsy Nurse who you ay know of ‘Tea and Cigarettes Blog’ does not light up before lunch. Nicotine ‘addiction’ is complex.

      One other research piece I found was: ‘In 1986, the American Cancer Society reported that: “Over 90% of the estimated 37 million people who have stopped smoking in this country since the Surgeon General’s first report linking smoking to cancer have done so unaided.”

      Habit forming, addiction perhaps not.

  9. Rose says:

    Climate change is all too real – get over it.

    Of course climate change is real, Clive.
    Who could deny the Ice Ages, Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age?

  10. Pingback: What does the UK think of e-cigarettes?

  11. I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by
    him as no one else know such detailed about my trouble.
    You are wonderful! Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s