Sunday, January 25, 2009

TICAP conference on despite sabotage

A conference, scheduled to be held in the parliament of the European Union (EU), has been cancelled only days before it was scheduled to open. The conference, planned by The International Coalition Against Prohibition (TICAP), had a monkey wrench thrown into the works when the EU Bureau decided to withdraw an agreement for use of the parliament building which had been approved as the venue for the conference months ago.

Permission to use the EU parliament was withdrawn after a letter from an anti-smoker group, the Smoke Free Partnership, was sent to the EU President. The decision to rescind permission was made "in camera" (read "in secret") and was apparently not relayed to organizers of the conference until several days after the fact.

Florence Berteletti Kemp, director of the anti-smoker group, claimed that: “The TICAP conference purports to develop methods and strategies to end 'the use of pseudo-science' in relation to tobacco control, in contrast the WHO FCTC* recognizes 'that scientific evidence has unequivocally established that tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke cause death, disease and disability'.”

In other words, we don’t want scientists with opposing views disputing our facts in public, it might be embarrassing.

But, if the scientific evidence is so unequivocal, why are they afraid of an open debate on its merits? Why the deceitful, underhanded methods employed to deny opposing voices an opportunity to be heard? Why the attempt to curb the most basic of human rights in any free society; freedom of speech.

Scientists from around the world, including some notable members of the tobacco control movement, were scheduled to address the first ever TICAP conference planned for January 27/28 in Brussels. And, the two day event was attracting a lot of attention; too much, apparently, for the anti-smoker brigade.

Anti-smoker activists do not tolerate legitimate scientific debate. In fact, they don't tolerate any opposition whatsoever for that matter.

But, if the science behind their message of intolerance and hatred towards smokers is so strong, why are they afraid of a few speeches regarding the hoax of secondhand smoke? Why the sly tactics to block the event?

A press release issued by TICAP says: “For decades the anti smoking industry has grossly perverted science for their own ideology; it comes as no surprise to us whatsoever that they are now perverting democracy and freedom in the very heart of the EU.”

Fortunately, the organizers of the TICAP conference, “Smoking Bans and Lies”, were prepared for the scheming, devious tactics of the antismoker fanatics, and a contingency plan has now been put into motion. The British Delegation of the Independence/Democracy Group in the European Parliament has launched the “Thinking Is Forbidden” Conference.

All scientists and other participants to the cancelled conference are invited to attend. Live satellite links for those unable to attend in person will also be available at the alternate site directly across from the parliament.

The original conference, under the patronage of Godfrey Bloom, MEP (Member of European Parliament), was called to discuss health policy as it relates to smoking, smoking bans and the issue of secondhand smoke. Among the issues on the agenda: the economic impact of smoking bans, epidemiology and the passive smoking fraud, toxicology and ventilation, and public health ideology and the pharmaceutical industry.

Simply put, the TICAP conference sought to present the truth about the use of pseudo-science to establish and justify anti-smoker policies, political actions and laws and make the public aware of the influence of pharmaceutical and other commercial lobbies on political decision-making.

This attempt, by anti-smoker activists, to thwart the democratic process and deny opposing points of view to be openly discussed and debated, is nothing short of reprehensible. Smoking may be a nuisance to many non-smokers, but the attempt by anti-smoker activists to suppress such basic rights as free speech and freedom of association are a threat to freedom itself.

If they’ve been open and honest with the public, the press and the politicians, they should have nothing to fear. On the other hand . . .

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