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Irreconcilable Conflict on RegWatch

Clive Bates gives another of his compelling appearances on Regulator Watch, where he talks about tobacco control crusaders and their principle of “irreconcilable conflict”

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Regulator Watch covers “the issues, controversies and impacts arising from the regulation of economic, social and environmental activity in Canada and the United States.” It has been providing outstanding coverage of matters relating to vaping and, in the latest feature, Clive Bates talks about tobacco control crusaders and their principle of “irreconcilable conflict”

Clive worked for IBM before switching to work in the environment movement. Afterwards, he spent five years as the Director for the UK’s Action on Smoking and Health campaigning to reduce the harms caused by tobacco. In 2003, Clive joined Tony Blair’s Strategy Unit before moving to senior roles in the public sector and at the United Nations. Now Clive runs Counterfactual, a consulting and advocacy practice and is widely acknowledge as one of the world’s foremost experts on vaping and tobacco harm reduction.

Big Tobacco is evil,” begins host Brent Stafford. “This truth serves as the foundation for tobacco control policy making across most of the world. Public health bureaucrats, politicians and non-profit health advocacy groups believe so strongly in the evil of Big Tobacco that they ostracize any person or group they deem to be advancing the interests of the tobacco industry.

Perhaps big tobacco is evil. Combustible tobacco products are deadly and for decades the industry lied to the public, marketed to children and spent untold millions influencing public policy. Yet, by branding big tobacco as evil, public health organizations like the WHO have egregiously marked vastly less harmful alternatives to smoking, such as vaping and snus as complicit.”

Clive joined Brent Stafford to expand upon his belief that tobacco control crusaders have baked into policy a principle of “irreconcilable conflict” between the interests of the tobacco industry and public health. He explained that he had been trying to identify an overarching idea, “a governing principal that explains how tobacco control functions.”

It could be reducing harm, or reducing cancer, or getting rid of smoking, “but actually I alighted on something else which is this idea that has its origins in Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.”

He explained that if you take irreconcilable conflict as the governing idea, it explains a lot of things that we see. For example: “Bizarre things like rejecting the experience of snus or the demonisation of vaping and heated & smokeless tobacco products. Because if they come from the tobacco industry it means, by definition, they have to be bad.”

Clive continues: “If you take that as your starting point that the industry can never do any good, will always be bad, that conflict is fundamental and irreconcilable, you start to see a lot of things take shape that explains what is going on.”

The thought-provoking interview can be viewed from the link below.


  • Regulator Watch – [link]
  • Counterfactual, Clive Bates – [link]
  • Irreconcilable Conflict; Principle Behind Public Health’s War On Vaping”, Clive Bates on RegWatch – [link]

Photo Credit:

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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