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Europe: Rodin's non-thinker
  1. David Simpson

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    Just like CASIN (see “The Circumlocution Hall of Fame” below), the Belgian Rodin Foundation, whose strapline is “Analysing and taking action”, has been contacting health agencies active in tobacco control as if it had no connections with the tobacco industry. Its unctuous approaches even included a disarming if coy plea for us to make allowances for the institutional equivalent of the innocence of youth. In a letter sent to several organisations in Europe, the following explanation was provided. “We are a very young organisation and our activities have just started. We are based in Brussels and are funded by public and private funds.” In fact the Rodin Foundation has a contract with the tobacco manufacturers in the Belgian market and will receive 1.85 million Euros (US$1.75 million) annually over five years. Any hint of this funding was strikingly absent in the letter. The foundation says it is in favour of the more “gentle” approach to tobacco control. As it stated: “Current responses are of types such as prohibition, stigmatisation of users and those around them, control measures, penalties, social exclusion, etc, while measures of assistance, support, assumption of responsibility, treatment and rehabilitation, as much as they do exist, receive much less and increasingly piecemeal attention and resources.” Any resemblance to the “responsible” Philip Morris approach is, well, not entirely coincidental.

    The Rodin letter continued: “For the time being, we are creating a database on all national and international prevention projects, more specifically primary prevention and especially tobacco prevention among youngsters. The purpose of this scientific research is to give scientific support to other organisations and federate [sic] initiatives that fall within the scope of its objectives and raise awareness among politicians.” Slight overuse of the word “scientific” there, one might think, presumably dictated by the urgent need to win the confidence of the letter's recipients that their replies would be handled in a way that was at once responsible and beneficial to mankind. No prizes for predicting that the science would be carried out according to the tobacco industry's standards, and that the principal activities may closely resemble the well known and totally inefficient youth prevention campaigns favoured by the big tobacco pushers.

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