Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Investigation

Big tobacco, the new politics, and the threat to public health

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 15 May 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l2164

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Re: Big tobacco, the new politics, and the Nanny State

BMJ 18 May 2019 “Investigation“ examines links between (Conservative) politicians and the Institute of Economic Affairs and in turn its “bullish libertarianism” and the denigration of the Nanny State.

The “Nanny State” as a term of abuse should be actively countered.
There are two elements to the Nanny state of relevance here -
1 Public Health interventions - eg immunisation and food hygiene standards
2 Public education on health matters

The first of these should be re-defined as the “caring state”.
The second as the “informative state”.
Information is needed to counter the advertising and marketing by what we should call “exploitative business”. It is of course the case that the Tobacco business has spent far more on advertising and promotion than any state-funded anti-smoking campaign.

The “caring state” is also needed to ensure that standards are maintained in the food business, where in eg meat supply we have seen criminal activity, and also needed to counter the use of nutritionally unsound ingredients – eg fructose syrup, added sugar added to prepared and processed foods by “greedy business”. The addition of nicotine and flavourings to cigarettes is big tobacco's greed-driven examples.

So let's stand up for Nanny
Incidentally I worked for the Nanny state for many years. It was and perhaps still is called the NHS

Competing interests: No competing interests

17 May 2019
Adam Moliver
Cheltenham UK