Monday, 19 March 2012

Why are we paying for this? (part 3: D-MYST)

Part three in an ongoing series showing how the government splurges our money on pressure groups who want to relieve us of our liberties without having the decency to admit that they're in the pay of the government. This week it's...

D-MYST. It stands for Direct Movement by the Youth Smokefree Team. Sounds like a grass-roots association of angry young people, right?

It isn't. It was founded and financed by the Department of Health via Smokefree Liverpool to pursue the policy of adult-certification for movies which depict smoking. I first came across these clowns three years ago when a hapless Lib Dem councillor called for 'smokefree movies' under the impression that the yoof were demanding it. I had virtually forgotten about D-MYST until I came across their website today and found that they are now campaigning for a ban on smoking on television before 9 pm.

Go check out their website. Note the lack of contact details. Note the complete absence of any indication that this is paid for with your money. Just like the minimum pricing website I mentioned recently, this is covert lobbying by a government department.

A Freedom of Information request revealed how much public money had been spent lobbying against smoking in films in the Merseyside area as of 2009. It's a lot, and a lot more has been spent since then, I'm sure.

The amount of spending to date of this Department of Health funded project is £20947.75 (plus VAT) and is broken down as follows:

o Billboard Advertising: £3927.81 (plus VAT)
o Paid for advertising in the media (including free media such as the Metro): £5216.94 (plus VAT)
o Spend on promotional items: £0.
o Spend on promotional brochures, factsheets, etc for members of the public: £2143 (plus VAT)
o spend on promotional and lobbying material sent to decision makers such as elected councillors: £532 (plus VAT)
o Spend on media relations (by this I mean editorial coverage as opposed to paid for advertising: £260 (plus VAT)
o Spend on any events or exhibitions £8868 (plus VAT)

D-MYST is an astro-turf group, plain and simple. If a business was lobbying for rent-seeking legislation in this manner, the media would be all over it. Time and time again we see the Department of Health acting like a fifth column in British politics. It is a law unto itself and the Tories seem no more interested in reining these spendthrift covert lobbyists than Labour did.


Dick Puddlecote said...

Don't forget that the daft councillor who was conned into advocating the smokefree movies nonsense back in 2009 was also useless enough to be recorded believing an April Fool's Joke.

Tobacco control has, and always will, rely on the stupid to further their agenda.

Anonymous said...

"Just like the minimum pricing website I mentioned recently,"

That one cost £467.33.

timbone said...

Liverpool is the worst place (not literally, I love Liverpool). What I mean is, this is the home of the Smokefree Messiah (again, not literally, it is just the place where the only specific lung cancer research charity was, so the messiah was drawn to them). I speak of Roy Castle, who was without smoke (allegedly) but took the penalty on his own shoulders and died a smokers death so that others may live.

PJH said...

Oh, there are lots of rumours that Mr Castle smoked, notibly cigars.

From here, for example:

"This morning, on the Five Live phone-in, the chief executive of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, Dr Rosemary Gillespie, was asked a direct question: did Roy Castle smoke cigars? Her reply:

"I am not prepared to discuss whether Roy Castle smoked."

Nothing like giving a non-answer when something like "no he didn't" would do.