In lieu of documentation that FORCES receives tobacco industry funding, all that Essential Action states about FORCES is the following: "One of their action alerts calls on people to write letters to Honolulu city council (U.S. - HI) members urging them NOT to support a restaurant smoking ban because "Hawaii is very dependent on the Japanese tourists, and most of them smoke. Will they want to come to a city where they cannot be comfortable and smoke?" See http://www.forces.org/alert/files/honolulu.htm. For a related website, with links to affiliated groups in Canada, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, and the U.S., see http://www.worldsmokersday.org/."
The Rest of the Story
That's pretty weak. If the best you can do to support your accusation that a group receives major tobacco industry funding is to demonstrate that the group opposes smoking bans, you're on pretty shaky ground.
But this further demonstrates my point that the tobacco control movement has been brainwashed with the idea that any opposition to the anti-tobacco agenda is prima facie evidence of being a Big Tobacco front, is it not?
The apparent reasoning here is quite simple: FORCES opposed the Honolulu restaurant smoking ban; therefore, it is a tobacco industry front group. Essential Action provides no other evidence to support its assertion.
In fact, this may be considered to be a part of the brainwashing that is occurring. Here, Essential Action is "indoctrinating" tobacco control advocates throughout the world with the false information that FORCES is a Big Tobacco front group. If I am a tobacco control advocate reading this site, I would then be inclined to go out and make my own public claims that FORCES is a tobacco front group. And that information would spread further and further until it pretty much becomes accepted as the truth. This is exactly how brainwashing can occur when there is no opportunity provided to challenge the information or to provide an alternative perspective.
And what did happen when I made an attempt to challenge this false information? I was accused of being a tobacco lackey for defending FORCES against this accusation and I was promptly kicked off the list-serve on which I made this challenge. Truly, no challenging of the indoctrination is allowable. This is what allows it to spread unchecked; this is what allows these false claims to become more and more widely disseminated.
If you are going to indoctrinate tobacco control advocates with information like this, you have to do two things:
- Provide documentation to back up your assertions.
- Allow people to challenge your claim and then be prepared to defend it against these challenges.
Believe me, I have come to know many of the folks over at FORCES pretty well, and being lackeys for anyone else is the last thing in the world they are. The opinions they express are about as genuine as they can be. They truly believe what they are saying, and they are speaking for themselves; they are not the mouthpiece for anyone else.
Even a cursory look at the FORCES website would tell you that they are not mouthpieces for Big Tobacco. The tobacco companies have stated that secondhand smoke is harmful. FORCES has never made such a claim. The tobacco companies entered into the Master Settlement Agreement, something which FORCES has blasted. I'm sure that FORCES would like nothing more than for the big tobacco companies to crumble so that smaller companies, with more reasonable prices, could take over.
Most importantly, of course, neither Essential Action nor ANR nor any of the other groups or advocates who have accused FORCES of being a tobacco industry front group have produced any evidence that FORCES has received or receives major funding from the tobacco companies and that Big Tobacco in any way directs their actions and agenda.
More than a year ago - on February 28, 2006 to be exact - I issued a challenge to all anti-smoking groups and advocates to produce evidence that FORCES had received major funding from tobacco companies. There was no response, and to date, I have still not received or seen any evidence to support the front group assertion.
It's interesting how these anti-smoking groups can be so loud and forceful in making the accusation, but when challenged to back it up, they become absolutely silent.