Sunday 4 September 2011

A useful website

Presumably inspired by the Indepedent's underwhelming exposés, an online pressure group has launched an e-mail campaign to get the government to force tobacco companies to say how much they spend marketing to kiddies. The group is called 38 Degrees and it was formed by the likes of Laurie Penny and Sunny Hundal to fight the so-called cuts.

Undeterred by the fact that all tobacco advertising was banned in the UK thirteen years ago, and that marketing to children was banned decades earlier, 38 Degrees are putatively concerned because tobacco companies "reportedly spend a fortune on designing cigarette brands and packs so they are more youth friendly". Note the careful, lawyer-pleasing use of the word "reportedly"—most cigarette packaging has barely changed since the 1940s. They're also worried about "special promotions at music festivals" like this:

omfg, it says "cigarettes"!!!

38 Degrees are not prepared to put up with this kind of filth...

It’s time that tobacco companies were forced to reveal exactly how much they spend on marketing, and how much they spend on marketing that could be viewed by young people (even if they are not the intended audience). The Government can force tobacco companies to do this. But they won’t do it unless we tell them to.

I could be wrong, but I'm not convinced that the government actually does have the power to demand to know a company's marketing budget. Certainly, no company would be able to calculate how much marketing might be seen by the unintended audience, especially since 38 Degrees' definition of marketing includes daft things like packet design.

Nevertheless, people who don't understand the difference between private companies and public information can go to 38 Degree's website and send a pre-written e-mail to their member of parliament.

It takes just two minutes to write to your MP and tell them why you think the Government should force tobacco companies to publish annually how much they spend on marketing that could be viewed by young people. Put in your postcode and click “Participate” to get started. it’ll only take 2 minutes.

It's a nice bit of software because all you do is put in your post-code and it automatically finds your MPs' e-mail address.

Of course, you don't have to use the pre-written text...

Click to enlarge


Lysistrata said...

Do I see that your hugely appreciated and well-argued and logically-based scientific approach has moved a tad towards direct action, then?
Whoo-hoo! It's like watching Spock fall in love!
Best ;)

Lysistrata said...

Just sent a slightly amended letter off courtesy of your post and their site...

Got an automatic reply from them:

"Hi , thanks so much for speaking up for greater transparency from the tobacco industry.
The more people our MP’s here from the more likely they are to act.
Please can you ask your friends and family to email their MP too? You could forward the email below.
Thanks again,
The 38 Degrees Team"

Note the wonderful use of "here" instead of "hear".

Bright people, eh? ;)

Frank said...

What absolute nonsense! ASH must be really concerned to wake their sleepers up with desperate efforts such as this and the Indy rubbish. This FOI request has certainly put the cat among the pigeons. It would lead an average person to think they really do have something heavy to hide.

George Speller said...


It's not great to see that Parliament has recently decided to remove cigarettes from display in shops and ban cigarette vending machines. The moves are idiotic in the light of the fact that there is NO evidence to suggest thhey will make any difference.

I don't believe for a minute that tobacco companies are spending "millions of pounds" marketing cigarettes to young people. It's the black marketeers that are targetting young people. It's illegal to advertise cigarettes in bars, clubs and festivals so there's no way that young people could see their advertising at all.

I’m writing to you today to ask you to do two things -

Firstly, I'd like you to do all you can to ensure that no further intrusion is made into either the activities of a legitimate industry or the legal enjoyment of its products by millions of beleaguered people.

Secondly, I'd like you to learn to mind your own business and not attempt to make the tobacco industry reveal its internal strategies any further than is already provided for by company law.

Young people are in fact influenced by attempts to portray tobacco as an illicit drug - which it is not - and they respond to the greatly enhanced profile of smoking prompted by a continual battery of propaganda. As you know the smoking rate was declining before the anti-smoking industry came to power, and now it is not.

In the UK Tobacco companies face lots of limits to the marketing they can do, and I believe the existing ones are quiute enough, thank you.

Please do all you can to treat the tobacco industry in thesame way as any other commercial activity, unless, of course, you are prepared to make tobacco illegal.

But you don't have the balls to try that, do you?

Thank you,

timbone said...

Chris, I tried to copy and paste your template, but to no avail. Is it possible to make it copy and pasteable?

Ivan D said...

These “right on” campaigners have teamed up with Smoke & Mirrors on this one. Smoke and Mirrors are a “different” kind of campaign group and summarise their philosophy as follows:

“The health concerns surrounding tobacco use are well documented, and we’re sure that everyone believes that smoking is bad for you.

The Smoke & Mirrors approach is different, we will help and encourage you to find out more about the way that the Tobacco Industry operates; looking at farming practices, subtle ways in which the products are marketed despite advertising restrictions, the role that the media plays in this, as well as considering the impact that tobacco has around the world”

Smoke and Mirrors list of “celebrity” and other supporters is a wonderful Who’s Who of people that no right minded individual would invite to any kind of party.

Matt Littler & Darren Jeffries
Phil Redmond
Stanton A. Glantz
Duncan Bannatyne
Benedict Southworth
Professor Gerard Hastings
Martin Dockrell
Mike Cockayne
Alistair Campbell
Chris Eubank
Natasha Hamilton

How totally embarrassing can this get? Have they no shame at all?

Bucko said...

Good spot!

I've just sent one off to Jake Berry MP.

Ian B said...

I did a post on this 38 degrees polymorphic astroturf business when they were fronting for Proportional Representation, if anyone's interested-

Anonymous said...

I have just enjoyed suitably amending the email. Good fun actually. I particularly enjoyed amending the bit which asks my MP to force Tobacco Companies to reveal....TO......'force ASH ET AL TO STOP THEIR PROPAGANDA AND REVEAL THE DETAILS OF THEIR STUDIES TO ALL TAXPAYERS. (Or something like that)

Recently, I had several emails from sundry spam origins (Nigeria stuff). I would have loved to add them to their email list. Unfortunately, I recently deleted them all. Sods law I suppose!

Funnily enough, I was a member of 38 degrees for a while - until I realised their true colours.

Antipholus Papps said...

How totally embarrassing can this get? Have they no shame at all?

Chris Eubank

No. They don't.

Anonymous said...

More here from Guido Fawkes.

38 Degrees Off Course

If you fancy a laugh, mention the left-wing astro-turfing operation 38 Degrees to a government MP, or their staff. Their email list encourages people to spam MPs with the same email over and over again on whatever issue is bugging the left at that moment. One MP has seemingly had enough of it. Stephen Phillips, a QC turned MP, decided to take a look at the “independent legal advice” that 38 Degrees are currently pushing around, concerning the NHS bill. His damning reply is well worth a read in full:

Barman said...

I sent a (slightly amended) e-mail and got a reply too!

Dear Barman,

Thank you for your email to Theresa May regarding the smoking ban and the potential risks of selling cigarettes in plain packaging. I am sure she will appreciate your concerns on this matter.

I have written to the Secretary of State for Health, the Rt Hon Andrew Lansley MP, to ask that he addresses your concerns on this matter.

I hope that this is helpful and I will, of course, write to you again once I have received a response. Should you wish to receive a hard copy of your response please provide me with your full postal address.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Bennett

Case Worker
Office of the Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Tel: 0207 219 1013

Michael J. McFadden said...

The classic example of Evil Big Tobacco marketing to "the children" is, of course, "Joe Camel." Just this weekend while doing some other research I happened upon the following in some old files. The source is the Legacy Foundation's collection of industry documents, but the claims are clearly enough stated to be taken as fully factual: they would have been sued for libel otherwise.

See: for original


When Dr. Joseph DiFranza’s pretesting for his 12/91 JAMA article showed that the ads appealed more to people in their 20s than early teens, he wrote his colleagues, “It would appear that we have just disproved our theory that the ads appeal more to kids than to adults.” To get his final results, DiFranza changed questions that didn’t produce the desired answers and included in the results the answers of “kids” who told him they did not smoke. He also counted respondents up to 21 years of age as “kids.” DiFranza told a newspaper reporter: “None of these studies was designed to show that these Camel ads increased smoking among kids.” DiFranza also found, but did not report, that 94% of the students who thought Joe Camel was “cool” also thought “smoking makes you unpopular;” 95% thought “smoking makes you unattractive.” …• In a paper presented at the 1995 Marketing and Public Policy Conference, Joel S. Dubow, professor at St. Joseph’s University and an editorial referee for the Journal of Advertising Research, stated: “The errors of method and conclusion which occur in DiFranza et al are overwhelming. They consist of both errors of scientific method and what appear to be lapses of integrity on the part of the authors. .., And, we ought to ask, also, whether the actions of DiFranza et al constitute an incident of scientific fraud.” ”


The reason why the above is important is that the "Joe Camel" case is generally seen as the be-all and end-all of "proof" of child-marketing since RJR eventually dropped the campaign. The thought that they simply dropped it because of all the negative publicity is never mentioned.


Anonymous said...

- you can change their silly text to read our message instead!

Looks like ECF sending all their trolls : ( The ECF is the single largest depository of unsubstantiated medical claims and misinformation regarding ecigs on the Internet.

So much misinformation they needed a new site to promote it Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA) a consumer group that was created and is currently funded by ECF and your friendly,neighborhood electronic cigarette Suppliers to do direct lobbying on their behalf.

Anonymous said...

Yep I noticed that. ECF posted a link and telling everyone to change the text to read ECF 's message of misinformation.
ECF is one of the biggest trolling sites to spread misinformation along with CASAA

Anonymous said...

Here’s the link where ECF is sending in the trolls

Vocal EK said...

Here are examples of some of those "unsubtantiated medical claims":

Bullen C, C, McRobbie H, Thornley S, Glover M, Lin R, Laugesen M. Effect of an electronic nicotine delivery device (e cigarette) on desire to smoke and withdrawal, user preferences and nicotine delivery: randomised cross-over trial. Tob Control. 2010 Apr;19(2):98-103.

Caponnetto P, Cibella F, Mancuso S, Campagna D, Arcidiacono G, Polosa R. Effect of a nicotine free inhalator as part of a smoking cessation program. Eur Respir J. 2011 May 12.

Caponnetto P, Polosa R, Auditore R, Russo C, Campagna D. Smoking Cessation with E-Cigarettes in Smokers with a Documented History of Depression and Recurring Relapses. International Journal of Clinical Medicine, 2011, 2, 281-284.

Darredeau C, Campbell M, Temporale K, et al. Subjective and reinforcing effects of electronic cigarettes in male and female smokers. 12th annual meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco Europe. Bath, UK, 2010. (accessed June 2011)

Etter JF, Bullen C, Flouris A, Laugesen M, Eissenberg T. Electronic nicotine delivery systems: a research agenda. Tob Control doi:10.1136/tc.2010.042168. Commentary. (accessed June 2011)

Khan Z, Siegel M. Electronic cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy for tobacco control: A step forward or a repeat of past mistakes? Journal of Public Health Policy advance online publication 9 December 2010; doi: 10.1057/jphp.2010.41.

Rose JE, Turner JE, Murugesan T, Behm FM. Pulmonary delivery of nicotine pyruvate: sensory and pharmacokinetic characteristics. Poster, Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco 16th annual conference, Baltimore, 27 February 2010.

Miura K, Kikukawa Y, Nakao T, Tokai H, Izumi Y, Fujii H, Taisuke Hojo, T. Safety Assessment of Electronic Cigarettes in Smokers. SEIKATSU EISEI (Journal of Urban Living and Health Association). Vol. 55 (2011) , No. 1 p.59-64.

Vansickel AR, Cobb CO, Weaver MF, Eissenberg TE. A clinical laboratory model for evaluating the acute effects of electronic "cigarettes": nicotine delivery profile and cardiovascular and subjective effects. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Aug;19(8):1945-53. Epub 2010 Jul 20.

Anonymous said...

The whole ****ing thing is lame. Real cigarettes, fake cigarettes, etc. Needing to put some sh*t into your mouth because you're a pathetic addict is lame.

I would never inhale anything from an electric device, especially one made of plastic in which a metal component heats up a liquid. Breathing in small quantities of fumes from these things, along with the vapor could possibly poison them. Besides, how ridiculous and stupid would you loo using an electric device simulating smoking. This may take off, but I would much rather smoke a regular cigarette, if I must. It may not be health, but at least I know the dangers, and these vapour-based substitutes cannot reproduce the pleasure of real smoke hitting you. This is just for pathetic losers and hardcore addicts who would much rather use silly vapour based gadgets that require a lot of maintenance, and make them look pretty silly. Who’d want to be caught using one of these things in public.

And val your medical claims don't mean anything when they are supported and funded by casaa and ecf... What a joke