Action and Smoking on Health (ASH) is one of the most powerful charities in the land, lobbying MPs and powerful Medical groups to adopt their position. However, ASH is heavily funded by the pharmaceutical industry (who manufacture nicotine replacement products), and State funding. Whether this funding be direct or channelled via the NHS or other charities such as Cancer Research UK and the BHF, the end result is that most of its multi-million pound budget comes from the taxpayer. In reality, last year, this charity only received £4975 in voluntary donations from the public (and a single £10,000 legacy) and its Scottish branch only had 0.2% of its funding come from voluntary donation.
Under section 70 of the Charities Act (2006) it is permitted for Ministers to “give financial assistance to any charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution in respect of any of the institution’s activities which directly or indirectly benefit the whole or any part of England (whether or not they also benefit any other area).” What this means in practice is that a Charity can be funded by any number of vested interests and STILL claim huge amounts of taxpayer’s money as long as it claim that it is “working in the public benefit.”
Organisations like ASH can therefore maintain their charitable status despite having demonstrable links with the Pharmaceutical industry that fund it and benefit from its actions. It also means that taxpayers’ money can be channelled, without question, to any “charity” that can claim to be working in the public interest. This is not only a waste of taxpayer’s money, it can mean that charities can become little more than unaccountable quangos working as unofficial arms of the Government.
Charities like ASH should either represent their true popularity with the public by attempting to survive on public donations or they should be wholly funded by the pharmaceutical industry so that everyone is clear on its background and agenda… and thus lose its charitable status. When the Leader of this organisation brags in a national newspaper about performing “a confidence trick” on Parliament with regard to the Smoking Ban, the legitimacy of taxpayers’ money being used to fund them needs to be addressed.
Given the disproportionate level of power this organisation wields and given our straitened economic times, all State funding to this organisation should be withdrawn, and repealing section 70 of the Charities Act 2006 would accomplish this.

Why is this idea important?

Charities forced to act as charities rather than as unofficial Government departments or pseudo-Quangos.

Millions of pounds saved,

ASH’s accounts showing that last year they were given £142,000 by the Department of Health, £104,119 from ASH International (which is funded by pharmaceutical companies) and £117,020 from The British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK (CRUK is affiliated to AstraZeneca and works closely with the pharmaceutical industry).:

Letter from ASH to Glaxo SmithKline demonstrating financial links to pharmaceutical companies:
“We have worked with GSK under the auspices of the WHO-Europe Partnership Project on tobacco dependence and at various one-off opportunities. ASH was instrumental in securing greater government commitment to smoking cessation products in the NHS National Plan and we have helped with PR for both Zyban and Niquitin CQ. Our involvement with GSK staff has, I believe, been mutually beneficial. […] ASH has a small shareholding in GSK and I will be attending with others to question you and the Chairman on this situation.”
All Government funding to ASH should be withdrawn and repealing section 70 of the Charities Act 2006 would achieve this.

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