Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Think of them children

This study was almost entirely ignored by the media when it was published in Tobakko Kontrol yesterday (except for four lines in the Nottingham Post), but it gives an interesting insight into the minds of 'tobacco control professionals' in 2013. The lead author is Ailsa Lyons, a minion at the (state-funded) UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies who wants to clamp down on smoking and drinking in the movies. She has a PhD in philosophy and so naturally works in the UKCTCS's Department of, er, Epidemiology. In tobacco control terms, therefore, she is both a "scientist" and a "doctor".

The study's press release (which is sub-headed "More stringent controls could help curb young people starting to smoke, say doctors") begins...

UK children are being exposed to millions of tobacco images/messages every week on prime time television, indicates research published online in Tobacco Control.

Yes, they're thinking of the children again. Where does exposure to the sight of tobacco on screen come in the spectrum of fanaticism? Is it fourth-hand or fifth-hand smoke? I lose track.

The authors analysed the weekly content of all five free to air UK TV channels, broadcast between 1800 and 2200 hours on three separate occasions, four weeks apart, in April, May, and June 2010.

A normal bedtime for a child is around 7pm, is it not? So why are these "doctors" looking at TV programmes between 6pm and 10pm in a study that looks at what "UK children are being exposed to"? Could it be because the only programmes which show smoking in any form are "gritty" TV for adults, "reality" TV and the news?

The content was then coded in 1 minute intervals according to whether it was: actual use of a tobacco product; implied use; the presence of tobacco paraphernalia, such as packs and ashtrays; and other references to tobacco, such as a news report.

Implied use of tobacco (sixth-hand smoke?) and the presence of ashtrays in TV programmes—are you kidding me? As for references to tobacco in news reports, there have been plenty of those in recent years thanks to the endless campaign for more and more anti-smoking laws. Are we now being told that these campaigns are counter-productive because they make "the children" aware of tobacco's existence? How funny it would be if this warped logic were taken to its logical conclusion and the anti-smokers were banned from the airwaves.

The break-down of content type showed that actual tobacco use occurred in 245 (1%) of all 1-minute intervals, in 73 (12%) of all programmes, and (0.7%) of all adverts/trailers.

Since 20 per cent of adults are smokers, it appears that smoking is massively under-represented on British television. On the few occasions when it does appear, it is in decades-old repeats, or new stories, or as a shorthand to tell the viewer who the villain is.

This is not the concern of Lyons and company. They do not want to show the world as it is, but as they would like it to be. They have a problem not just with reality TV shows but with reality itself. As ever with these puritans, no indication is given of what a tolerable percentage of on screen "actual tobacco use" would be, but it seems fair to assume that their target is zero. It is not enough for them to ban tobacco advertising. It is not enough for them to stop people smoking tobacco in so-called public places. It is not enough for them to stop retailers displaying the product in shops. The mere depiction of tobacco use, or implied tobacco use, or even inanimate objects which are associated with tobacco use, must be censored, banned and prohibited in the name of the children.

Tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion in TV programmes are banned in the UK, but imagery included for artistic or editorial reasons is exempt. 

Yeah, it is. Do you know why? Because state censorship of journalism and the arts is only fit for totalitarian regimes.

We would recommend that future television programming remove gratuitous depictions of tobacco, particularly actual smoking and tobacco branding, from programmes aimed at young people, or, in the UK, scheduled before the 2100 watershed,” they write.

I have long since become weary of these disingenuous prohibitionists getting their foot in the door with the old think-of-the-chidren/watershed plea. Would they be happy with tobacco advertising if it was on after 9pm? No. Are their fellow travellers happy with a pre-watershed ban on alcohol advertising? No. They'll never be happy until every media abolishes every trace of the vice they are fighting.

It is not just the smell of tobacco that displeases them. It is the sight of tobacco and everything associated with it. This study is a valuable reminder we are dealing with censorious neurotics who can never be satiated and can never be appeased. In more enlightened times, their unabashed contempt for freedom and decency would make them outcasts in civilised society. At best, they would be pitied. More often, they would be mocked and scorned. They would, in short, be "denormalised", and so they should be again.


Michael J. McFadden said...

"no indication is given of what a tolerable percentage of on screen "actual tobacco use" would be, but it seems fair to assume that their target is zero."

Heh, given that they're deeply unhappy with the fact that the current number is ONE percent, yeah, I'd say they're aiming for zero. Incredible, eh? ::sigh::

When I saw your note about alcohol on screen I thought to myself, "Oh no! One of my favorite satirical angles! And they're going to make it come TRUE???" And then I clicked on it and found that they made it true TWO YEARS AGO. ::deeper sigh::

Our children will never understand what the word "satire" means. It simply doesn't seem to exist anymore. I go on a board and rant and rave and foam about cars being "flat baby makers" and all sorts of other obvious satirical commentary about automobile addicts and the main response someone had was to inform me that I clearly had been brainwashed with communist ideas (and then the guy started trying to make a serious argument against my ridiculous "points" before simply giving up at ever educating me.)

Some Republican out in California environs proposed a law outlawing bicycling because bicycles made people breathe a lot which then increased the CO2 greenhouse gas and helped to kill the planet.

OBVIOUS satire, right? Nope. About a dozen posters filled the board beneath the article arguing about what a bad idea it was and how the science wouldn't support it and how Republicans are all really stupid.

Chris, you didn't mention it, but I believe (and no, THIS is NOT satirical) that they actually count NO SMOKING SIGNS as "tobacco product references or implied use" when they're trying to increase the smoking figures for Smoke Free Films.


See what I mean? How can we ever explain to our kids what satire is???


Ivan D said...

And we thought that the fall of the USSR marked the end of totalitarianism in Europe. These people truly believe that the end justifies the means and it is becoming increasingly difficult not to compare them directly with unpleasant totalitarian regimes of the past. Those regimes also used children as political weapons to suppress dissent amongst the adult population.

I have no problem with extremist nutters having an opinion but I am sick of paying for them to have a platform from which to impose it on others and funding their own propaganda wing in the form of a biased state broadcaster.

belsha said...

You don't get this Chris. There actually is a major scientific breakthrough that demonstrates that the murderous substances in tobacco kill not by entering through the lungs, but through the eyes. Yes, that's right: science has proven that it isn't the tar, carbon monoxide, nitrosamines and the other 4000 toxic substances in cigarettes that cause lung cancer, emphysema and heart attacks, but the mere SIGHT of cigarettes and tobacco related paraphernalia. Ashtrays are particularly dangerous, studies have shown that just looking at an ashtray for 30 minutes or less can cause a fatal heart attack.

The good news is that smoking bans may thus be lifted in picth-dark public places, such as backrooms in gay bars, or on overnight overseas flights.

nisakiman said...

The content was then coded in 1 minute intervals according to whether it was: actual use of a tobacco product; implied use; the presence of tobacco paraphernalia, such as packs and ashtrays; and other references to tobacco, such as a news report.

These people obviously have an empty void in their lives which they are compelled to fill with something. It's a form of OCD, this poring over minutiae that is completely inconsequential. They have nothing better to do with their lives. It's sad in a way. I might even have some sympathy for them were it not for the fact that they are casting this baleful shadow over so many people. So rather than 'care in the community', I feel I have no choice but to recommend an institution along the lines of Broadmoor, both for our safety and theirs. And the sooner the better.

JohnB said...

We need to keep an eye on the “glorified mechanic” – Stantonitis Glands – and his buddies. We know that the WHO has had an “initiative” for some time concerning smoking in movies. The goal has been to have movies with smoking scenes attract an “R” rating or to browbeat movie-makers into eliminating all smoking in movies that will screen to under-18s…… even, say, a cartoon turtle smoking.

Stantonitis is a WHO lackey, well and long connected in the GlobaLink network. If the WHO has an “initiative” (e.g., bans don’t hurt business, heart miracles, movie censorship), Stantonitis is the chief go-to dimwit to provide scientific “evidence”. You can hear Glands responding to a phone call from the WHO – “Sure, Louie…… I’ll whip up a research paper while I’m on the toilet tonight”.

So, the glorified mechanic has lent his considerable [physical and ego] weight behind the “initiative”, concocting his inimitable, fifth-rate, error-riddled, agenda-driven “research”.

For those that are familiar with research concerning perception/cognition/action, the term “cause” is rarely, if ever, used. But Glands is a mechanic – a mechanistic thinker. So, let’s see what Glands and his physicalist (mechanistic) buddies have done with this “research”.

The Surgeon-General Report (2012) declares:
The evidence is sufficient to conclude that there is a causal relationship between depictions of smoking in the movies and the initiation of smoking among young people.

We’re not dealing with chemical/physical reactions where the term “cause” can be imputed. We’re talking about depictions of smoking on screen. But the physicalists refer to “exposures” to depictions of smoking “causing” The Children™ to take up smoking as if …. hoobilooby rays come off the image of a cigarette (as opposed to poopinoopy rays that come off all other images) on a screen and enter the brains of The Children™, “causing” them to take up smoking. It’s a load of agenda-driven blather that is showing up how far out of their depth these bona fide imbeciles really are.

But the glorified mechanic has more. This from his blog:
Smoking in PG-13 films causes 18% of new youth smoking
There’s that word “cause” again. The cited article even refers to a “dose-response” of screen “exposures” to smoking uptake.

Even the CDC – naturally - has produced “research”:

JohnB said...

We’ve seen the pattern again and again over the last three decades: The “smoking in movies” is a good case study in the modus operandus of the antismoking putzes. Agenda-driven nitwits, e.g., the glorified mechanic, conduct “research” (or over-interpret research) that, lo and behold, supports an antismoking initiative. Within a short time, it becomes “mounting evidence”, which is then only a short hop to “the science is settled”. And it typically involves the same corrupted organizations. The Office of the Surgeon-General, long committed to the smokefree utopia and whose reports on smoking are typically crawling with long-time, high-profile antismoking activists, will make a “causal” declaration. So, too, will the CDC. Then the plethora of antismoking organizations will cite the SG and CDC “declarations” as “authoritative”, i.e., logical fallacy of “appeal to authority”. Within a short time, what was initially a load of junk quickly becomes mass propagated as “fact”. It’s a closed propaganda loop run by a network of deranged nitwits and their useful idiots. It’s extraordinarily pathetic and socially destabilizing, at the very least.

“….that saw the U.S. Surgeon General release a landmark report concluding that exposure to on-screen smoking causes children to smoke. This also prompted 38 state attorney generals to write media company CEOs, in the spring of 2012, that "each time the industry releases another movie that depicts smoking, it does so with the full knowledge of the harm it will bring children who watch it."

More “appeal to authority”:
"The U.S. Surgeon General, the nation's doctor, has concluded there isn't just a connection, there is a causal relationship between children’s exposure to smoking on screen and their starting to smoke. This makes the movie companies potentially culpable," says Reverend Michael Crosby, Tobacco Program Coordinator at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility(ICCR). As of December 19, shareholder resolutions have been filed at Time Warner (Warner Bros.), CBS, and Comcast (NBC Universal) by ICCR members. As You Sow, a nonprofit organization that promotes corporate responsibility though shareholder advocacy, and members of ICCR also intend to submit resolutions to Disney, News Corp (Fox), Sony, and Viacom (Paramount) in the first quarter of 2013.

And then there are the usual suspects, e.g., the disease and dismembered body-organ groups, with further “appeal to authority”:
National medical organizations including the American Medical Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have joined the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.N.’s World Health Organization in calling for the elimination of smoking in youth movies or the adoption of an R rating for any film that shows tobacco use.

JohnB said...

If this trash wasn’t enough, the “CDC will regularly reporting [sic] smoking in movies along with other key public health indicators”
“This action puts the smoking that the big media companies put in their movies on the same category as other disease vectors.”

Have we got that? Smoking in movies will be in the same category as other “disease vectors”.

These miscreants are really after wholesale public smoking bans – indoor and out. They are softening up the public with the idea that children shouldn’t be “exposed” to depictions of smoking in movies because it “causes” The Children™ to take up smoking. If they can get bans/”R”-rating passed for particular movies, then the next step will be – well how much more influential are “live” smokers in “causing” The Children™ to take up smoking? Smoking should be banned everywhere for the sake of The Children™. Which gets us right back to the Godber Blueprint…. Godber’s own sentiment…. “Nor should people be allowed to lead children astray by smoking in their presence”.

Just when you think we’ve reached the thick end of the mental cesspit that is antismoking, the effluent of neurosis/bigotry gets thicker still….. the neurosis/bigotry bandwagon – the hysteria – gets further out of control. Check out this blather-fest:
Warning: Some Oscar® Nominated Films May Cause Kids to Smoke

But this one really shoves the hysteria along – get ready:
Smoking in movies kills
The most effective, least intrusive way to cut tobacco exposure would be to rate future movies with smoking in them R. Producers would simply reserve the smoking for their R-rated films, the way they now routinely regulate other content. Movies rated G, PG, and PG-13 would be smoke-free, cutting teens' risk from on-screen smoking in half. Hollywood's rating system doesn't cost taxpayers a dime. Yet the R's result will rank among the most important public health advances of our time. One letter can now save thousands of lives.

There we have it! It began not long ago with some amby-pamby, agenda-driven “research” and we’re already at “smoking in movies kills” and that an “R”-rating for smoking in films “will rank among the most important public health advances of our time”. Antismoking zealots are dangerous nut cases. For each level of appeasement, the fanatical nitwits sink into further derangement – and society with them. This insanity…. this deteriorating circumstance…. needs to be pointed out to the public over and over again. This current case study also provides an insight into how ambient tobacco smoke was turned into something on a par with a bio-weapon like, say, sarin gas (not to mention many claims about active smoking).

Michael J. McFadden said...

Actually, I think driving in the movies is a far more serious concern than smoking in the movies, on two counts.

(1) Car chases: these events are all over the place and teach teens that it's quite fine and dandy to swerve around all through traffic and along city streets at absurdly high speeds with virtually no serious consequences. Car chases should be banned from the movies unless they show the bodies ripped in half with the intestines hanging out in the wreckage afterwards. And I'm actually not sure that I'm kidding with this one.

(2) And one where I *know* I'm not kidding: watch driver/passenger interactions in the movies and take note of how much time during conversations the drivers sit there looking over at the passenger. Driver/passenger interaction produces several thousand percent higher rates of "driver-distraction" driving accidents than smoking does. And yet they're trying to ban smoking in cars?


belsha said...

In Europe, we already have censorship of this fashion with all kinds of security issues in TV films, for example, you can't shoot a film where a motorcyclist doesn't wear a helmet. So the guy can rob a bank and shoot ten people, but he must wear a helmet when he fleas !

What is just really terrible is the precedent set by these kinds of things. It is hard to know where this will end, use of profanity, casual sex, drinking, "deviant ideologies", for exemple mention in a filmed conversation of — your choice — libertarianism or communism? Or should they rate "R" a movie where strangers meet in a bar and leave to have casual sex even if the actual sex isn't shown?