By all accounts last night’s debate in Dublin on tobacco control did not show the tobacco control activists in the best of lights. Tantrums and tiaras, it was all too much for them, more on the link below. Anyway this is my experience of tobacco control faced with debate.
As the Americans say the anti smoker crowd really did let it all hang out. I am reminded from 2 years ago I spoke at the British Medical Journal’s “Is smoking a disease or a habit” debate and with other contributors had dinner with Professor Luke Clancy of ASH Ireland.
Before hand we did a run through of our speeches and Clancy kept interrupting me as he wanted to censor what I had written. I was talking about the the junk science of second hand smoke (SHS) in passing.
After he was told to be quiet we then went to dinner. We were having a generally polite conversation, I think he comes from Limerick. I made the point that on the science of SHS and I said many tobacco control activists had not done their research and there are people who have are wilfully and knowingly misleading us.
Clancy exploded. In front of the my fellow diners and 100 people in the restaurant he shouted out I was a “liar” and proceeded to make a complete spectacle of himself by publicly insulting me at volume 11. The host had to quieten him down.
Then there was my appearance on CNN with Deborah Arnott. After doing the interview, I was literally taking a first sip from a glass of water after returning to the green room and she launched into a tirade into the fact that I was “not an expert.” Spewing vitriol and bile from every orifice. She had turned up with her husband and obviously felt safe that she could give me a piece of her wisdom.
The producer button holed me and said she was not doing her cause any good. That is the polite analysis of what she said.
The hermetically sealed world of Tobacco Control does not deal with honest debate, free speech and evidenced based science too well.