Monday, March 11, 2013

Two Lung Specialists Take on the Tobacco Industry – Chapeau or Madness?

Two pulmonary diseases aka lung specialists in the Netherlands decided to start a crusade against the tobacco industry. Doctors Ms. Wanda de Kanter and Ms. Pauline Dekker are specialists at the Red CrossHospital in the Dutch city of Beverwijk. They were frustrated that despite endless publicity about the lethal effects of smoking, smokers kept smoking due to the power of the tobacco lobby. The two therefore decided to start their campaign, stating: "We want to show who the tobacco lobbyists are and that they will feel guilty instead of smokers with lung diseases.”

They created a website ( where they crucify the top dogs in the tobacco industry. Anyone who champions the tobacco industry is fair game. The website explains how and why the targeted hot shots are active in the tobacco lobby.

To give some examples: professor Ms. Irene Asscher is stigmatized as a “Board Member of a company that kills permanently” due to her involvement with Philip Morris, a leading cigarette manufacturers. Dutch Minister Ms. Edith Schippers is recorded as the “Minister of the Tobacco Employers”, and Dutch Senator Mr. EelcoBrinkman, who is also a Board Member at Philip Morris, is described as “stupid and unscrupulous”.

The site is supported by public figures such as former Minister of Public Health Ms. Els Borst and former President of the Dutch National Bank Mr. Nout Wellink. Needless to say, the people exposed on the website are not amused. Reactions varied from “humbug” to “tasteless” and “the allegations are not substantiated”.

The main question: are the two initiators going too far with their website and are they tarnishing the reputation of people? Or is this naming and shaming a good way to finally try to end the supremacy of the all-powerful tobacco lobby and prevent lung cancer? You are the judge...

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