Friday, July 09, 2004

Scientists are no more consistent than the rest of us

The British Medical Journal has published a call from a number of international scientists, led by Jeff Collin of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, to ban tobacco sponsorship by Formula One racing.

They point out that the implementation of the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has resulted in the banning of direct advertising of tobacco products in the UK but the Formula One sponsorship is still in place and is still, supposedly, doing damage to people’s health.

Without getting into the whys and wherefores of the tobacco advertising debate, we cannot help wondering why it is that these scientists never call for the end of EU subsidies to tobacco producers in several southern member states? Despite endless CAP reforms directed at the tobacco subsidy, it is very much in place, costs anything between £750,000 to £1 million a year, encourages fraud, protects inefficient productivity, and results in tobacco of such low grade that it cannot be sold in the EU but has to be dumped on Third World and Balkan countries.

Surely the EU can also be described as being “free to peddle the tobacco pandemic”. Why do we not hear any calls? Could it have something to do with the large sums the self-same EU dispenses to various academic scientific institutions? Surely not.

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