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Conference Information

The 1st World Conference Against Prohibition: "Smoking Bans and Lies"
Brussels, 27/28 January, 2009
European Parliament, ASP A1E-2
Under the patronage of Godfrey Bloom MEP


by the Bureau of the European Parliament, pressured by antismoking and pharmaceutical interests.

Thus the TICAP Conference was cancelled. Fortunately, the British Delegation of the Independence/Democracy Group in the European Parliament hosted the “Thinking Is Forbidden” Conference, taking place at the Hotel Silken Berlaymont Brussels, keeping the schedule and dates unaltered.
Click here for a report of that conference.

Background information:

The anti-smokers believe they have long conquered the EU institutions so they were shocked by the fact that heretics were to hold an independent conference in the very heart of political Europe.
To counter this provocation, the European Smokefree Partnership lobbied against the conference to take place in the European Parliament. In december 2008, its director, Florence Berteletti Kemp, wrote a letter to the President of the European Parliament, Pöttering, demanding the event to be banned.

Key part:
"We are of the view that this planned event should not under any circumstances take place on the premises of the European Parliament as: 
1. the event appears to be in contravention of Parliament’s own rules of procedure and is detrimental to the dignity of Parliament.
2. the event goes against all of Parliament’s adopted reports and the European Community’s legislation and commitments on this topic.
3. it violates the spirit of the International Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

This attack was accompanied by various protest mails from other anti-smoking organizations throughout Europe, as one of them reported:
"Members of the European Network for Smoking Prevention reacted quickly and took action by sending letters to their MEPs. The arguments presented in the letter were also shared with health-friendly MEPs who, after being alerted, also complained to the European Parliament bureau." 

For instance, Austrian antis falsely claimed that the conference was held by the tobacco industry.

In the meeting of the Bureau of the European Parliament, where its President and the Vice-Presidents are present, on January 12th, this topic was discussed as an urgent matter not previously mentioned in the draft agenda. The minutes:

"Use of Parliament's premises by the International Coalition Against Prohibition (TICAP) for a conference entitled 'Smoking Bans and Lies'

 The Bureau,

 - held an exchange of views on the subject, programme and objectives of the abovementioned conference;

- recalled the position taken on tobacco by the institution as co-legislator and noted that the rules governing the use of Parliament's premises by outside bodies explicitly state that events held on Parliament premises may under no circumstances have a commercial purpose and must not undermine the dignity of Parliament; furthermore, sponsorship is explicitly prohibited;

- decided, in the light of the above, to deny authorisation for the proposed conference to take place on Parliament's premises."

Obviously, the politicians were very much inspired by the Smokefree Pharmaship's text, thereby confirming all the clichés about being totally controlled by anti-smokers and Big Pharma.

Our comments:

1. The conference did not have a commercial purpose. And Big Tobacco certainly did not have anything to with it, as our member organization FORCES rightly pointed out: "In fact, a couple of tobacco industry people who originally registered as observers withdrew their participation at the first sign of controversy, in a customary display of dismal cowardice which has become simply reflexive with that industry."

2. We absolutely agree with the IN/DEM parliamentary party leader, Nigel Farage MEP: "That one of the reasons cited for the ban was to protect the 'dignity of the Parliament' tells us everything that we need to know about the state of democracy in this European Union."

3. "The position taken on tobacco by the institution": Anything that challenges the view of the majority of the European Parliament, seems to be forbidden in its building. So much for fairness, free speech, and the rights of the opposition.

There had also been an attempt by an antismoking organization to prevent a Dutch scientist from speaking at the conference (link to Dutch article).

This bullying and insults to political speech will not go unnoticed by those who hold dear freedom of political speech regardless of their persuasions.

© 2022, The International Coalition Against Prohibition