Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Zealots in Control

The Ministry of Health Breaches Fundamental Medical Ethics

The disparaging term, "health-Nazi" refers to individuals, companies, or governments who believe in forcing people to do what is deemed good by others.   These days we are awash with officials, authorities, and do-gooders telling us what to eat, what not to eat, how to spend leisure time, how to exercise, and how to breathe.  It's all in the name of doing good.

More often than not, it seems, the advice and the hectoring demands turn out to be wrong, inappropriate, or harmful in the long term.  We remind our readers that two generations have been raised amidst the incessant propaganda that fat is harmful; the best diet reduces fat intake.  The tacit assumption of  this "advice" has been that ingested fat turns to body fat.  It is now clear that this is poppycock, the stuff of nonsense.  But, in the meantime, for two generations health Nazis and officials misled the public.

It's not just that the advice was wrong: it was framed as a moral crusade.
 Those entities producing foods were pilloried if their food products contained fats.  In New Zealand, walk down the aisles of the supermarket and count the number of milk brands and offerings emblazoned with words like "trim", "lite", and such to inform customers that they are buying what has a good deal of what makes milk a healthy food stripped out.

We recently came across another example of the damage that health Nazis can do.  Phillip Morris, the tobacco giant, has developed a product to reduce the harm of smoking, whilst providing a nicotine "hit".  The Ministry of Health is prosecuting the company.  How bizarre.  Nicotine patches are freely available in the country.  But when Public Enemy Number One gets involved, the bazookas are trundled out.
The Ministry of Health has laid charges against tobacco company Philip Morris New Zealand relating to a new type of non-burning tobacco product.  The product, Iqos, was launched at the end of last year. It was promoted through an invitation-only website and used a battery-powered holder to heats tobacco sticks known as heets to give off vapour rather than smoke.  Heets are heated rather than burned like a traditional cigarette, to give smokers a nicotine hit.

The ministry said it considered heets were tobacco products designed for oral use other than for smoking and were prohibited under the Smoke-Free Environments Act.  [Stuff]
So, let's get this right.  The NZ Ministry of Health, knowing that smoking is genuinely potentially harmful to health, is prosecuting the sale of a device which reduces the harm.  Apparently, in the bizarre, binary world of this particular health-Nazi, it is better to poison oneself with ordinary cigarettes than be able to purchase a product which reduces the harm to the addict.

The device has been cleared for sale in a number of other countries around  the world:
Iqos is available in in more than 20 countries around the world, including the UK, Japan, Italy and Switzerland. Globally more than two million smokers have switched to IQOS and the company had plans to expand to key cities in 30 countries by the end of 2017, Erickson said.
What is going on here?  Why are the health Nazis engaged in this stupid bureaucratic action?  We hazard a few guesses.  Firstly, the Ministry of Health is not primarily interested in health, but in control.  If it were primarily interested in public health it would never have even contemplated this bizarre prosecution.

Secondly, the Ministry has been captured by such ideological fervour that it wants to take no prisoners when it comes to the evil tobacco giant, Philip Morris.  Anything Philip Morris does is regarded as the acme of evil.  In this case the zealotry of the government results in actual harm: far better, apparently to smoke cigarettes than to reduce their harm.  Pure ideological zealotry.

Thirdly, one suspects that the Ministry cannot abide the prospect of Philip Morris making any more money out of tobacco.  There appears to be a crypto-Marxist animus at work.

The key question is this, and only this:  would the use of Iqos in New Zealand increase harm or reduce harm?  On the face of it, Iqos would reduce harm; not having it available would increase harm.  The Ministry of Health has violated a fundamental medical ethical principle.

The blind zealotry of the Ministry of Health is grossly unbecoming.  Alas, it is all too typical of food and health-Nazis.

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