Thursday 29 December 2011

Absurd logic

Earlier this month, the Department of Health announced that it would be launching a public consultation on plain packaging before the end of the year. They have since delayed it until the spring, but the British Heart Foundation was clearly all geared up for the earlier deadline. How else to explain this spurious propaganda appearing three days before new year?

Branded cigarettes safer, say 25%

More than a quarter of young smokers believe cigarettes in "glitzy" and branded packaging are less harmful than those in packets with a plain design, a charity has warned.

A report by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) found that just over 25% of regular smokers aged 16 to 25 thought a branded cigarette pack was less harmful than another based on the packet design alone.

This refers to the fact that people can still remember when (low-tar) Marlboro Gold were called Marlboro Lights. That was not so very long ago so it is hardly surprising. The BHF do not consider the fact that Marlboro Gold will still be called Marlboro Gold even if plain packaging is introduced and, therefore, a minority of people will consider them to be less harmful—or, to put it another way, that Marlboro are more harmful. Being prohibitionists, they never contemplate the consequences of their actions. Action is all that counts. But unless they plan mass brainwashing of the population, the plain packaging ruse will have no effect on the misconception they profess to be concerned about.

Betty McBride, director of policy and communications at the British Heart Foundation, said: "As informed adults, we know that smoking is a deadly addiction that kills half of all smokers.

Why does the British Heart Foundation—a charity—have a "director of policy"? Is this really what people donate their money for?

"But young people are not always fully aware of the risks, and the power of branding holds more sway."

Firstly, it is highly unlikely that young people are not fully aware of the risks considering the multi-million pound anti-smoking campaigns in every media, as well as at school. Secondly, in case you hadn't noticed, "young people" are not allowed to buy cigarettes and by the time they are able to buy them they are "informed adults". Even if they obtain them illicitly in the mean time, they will find extensive, graphic health warnings on every pack. If these do not make them "fully aware of the risks", the fault lies with the anti-tobacco policy-makers who created them.

But for do-anything, say-anything campaigners like the BHF's director of policy, nothing is ever enough...

"Tobacco advertising is rightly banned in the UK. Yet current glitzy packaging clearly still advertises tobacco on the cigarette box."

Tobacco advertising is indeed banned. I vividly recall organisations like the BHF celebrating all those years ago when the UK introduced a total and utter ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship. They celebrated because the ban was so "comprehensive". There was not a word from them about any "loophole" which allowed cigarette packaging because, as everyone understood, packaging is not advertising. Only very recently, as the anti-smoking movement searched for new barrels to scrape, have they attempted to redefine advertising to include colours and logos.

She added: "It's an absurd loophole the tobacco industry takes full advantage of to lure in new young smokers."

This is abject nonsense, but expect to hear much more of it next year. The alcohol, food and pharmaceutical industries should take note. 'Junk food' and alcohol are not allowed to be advertised before 9pm. Most drugs cannot be advertised at all. Alcohol may also soon be subject to a total ban. Why, then, should children have to be "exposed" to the "advertising" of "glitzy packaging" every time they step foot in a shop or walk past a window? Won't somebody think of the children? Something must be done, etc. etc.

Either packaging is advertising, in which case products which cannot be advertised on television should be sold in plain packaging from covered shelves, or it is not, in which case some semblance of a free market should remain.

It is not, of course. Never in history has a logo on a product been considered advertising. Even the fruitiest loops of the anti-smoking fraternity never viewed it as such until necessity became the mother of invention. They will resort to anything to get their way, but their corruption of the English language must be resisted by every industry before the neo-prohibitionists take the "next logical step."


Kris said...

I am surprised it`s only 25%
If I`d see a plain package of anything i would wonder wether I am actually buying the stuff I intended to buy and if it`s legal(remember the scare stories about the illegal cigarettes containing just about everything?).

Kris said...

Clarifying on this:
It should have been compared to other products in plain packages as well.
My guess is the 25% is actually an unusually low score.

Ivan D said...

I suggest making a really big effort not to donate to the British Heart Foundation and encouraging others to do likewise at every opportunity. Perhaps the only way to encourage more honest and thoughtful use of charitable donations is to hit BHF where it hurts the most.

Is it not high time that the definition of “charitable activities” is reviewed in law?

Kris said...

I have stopped doing that a long time ago.
I am an atheist so I don`t believe in the new religion of health as well.
Therefore I see no reason to fund their priests.

Anonymous said...

"As informed adults, we know that smoking is a deadly addiction that kills half of all smokers."

At some point don't all non-smokers and smokers alike die?

Twenty_Rothmans said...

Betty McBride demonizes smoking as an addiction. I wonder why so many people who don't smoke try to cadge one from me when they feel like one, yet never seem to mind going cold turkey.

The World of Betty McBride must be an interesting one. I don't blame her for going after smokers. They are an easy target, and who in their right mind would be hiring an aged old harridan like this to do anything but annoy people or act as a stand-in for Rosa Klebb?

A bit ad hominem, there, tut mir Leid, Frau Klebb.

Judging by her portrait on the BHF website, it looks as though she's carrying a bit of a weight penalty there. We should not judge old Betty (or her furred arteries) too harshly.

After all, that pretty packaging on certain fried chicken products and chocolate appear to have had more impact on her than the drab appearance of salad.

Starve these false charities and starve Betty McBride - she could sure do with it.

Angry Exile said...

Yet current glitzy packaging clearly still advertises tobacco on the cigarette box.

Idiot woman. If it's advertising it's a rather odd kind of advertising that's targeting mainly the person who's already bought the pack, and oh noes, it means that everything in our homes with a manufacturer's mark on it is advertising at us all the time. Ridiculous notion that I don't recall even the Aussie tobaccophobes reaching for when they proposed and passed the same law here. In fact part of the justification for doing it, as I think our host has mentioned once or twice, was to be ahead of the UK. Probably something to do with being beaten by Britain on Olympic medals and losing the last couple of Ashes series creating a desperate need to beat the Poms at something, even if it's just ludicrous legislation that will pour money into the pockets of smugglers, counterfeiters and illegal tobacco suppliers at the expense of the legal industry.

Xopher said...

Has there been a single, 21st Century, anti-smoker demand that has led to its intended or inferred consequence?
Have smoking rates fallen thanks to their/our massive investment in their science/propaganda?
Do our politicians have exclusive access to a degree in blind idiocy?

Twenty_Rothmans said...

In fact part of the justification for doing it, as I think our host has mentioned once or twice, was to be ahead of the UK.

Helmets on bicycles are a perfect example. If you have some time on your hands, write in to The Age and recommend that cyclists be compelled to wear high visibility jackets and see how many cranks jump in and agree vehemently.

It should be mentioned that the French require this of car occupants now - this is to identify them as non-combatants in the case of another German invasion.

This phenomenon was around long before you left Blighty. It began in earnest in about 1979, although wowserism was alive and well long before I was born.

What Ugly Betty neglects to mention is that the hysterical vandalism of cigarette packets did not have the desired effect. She and her cohorts failed, and they will never admit it.
(a) put a warning on the pack
(b) put a bigger warning
(c) put an ugly picture on the pack
(d) put a bigger ugly picture

Jesus, some people are too stupid to live.

Malenfant said...

I wouldn't know how to find it, but if there is any real world evidence that plain packaging has any effect, good or bad, it's probably with the supermarkets budget ranges, eg Tesco Value, Asda Smart Price etc.

Although these ranges aren't designed to put people off buying the products, and they don't, they are pretty damn plain. It's not the packaging that counts, it's the contents; people still buy them.

I'm old enough to remember buying a 'single', one cig and 2 matches - no packaging whatsoever, you didn't get a choice of brand and it didn't stop anyone taking up smoking.

Since when did a survey of what people believe become evidence? People believe all sorts of weird shit, but it doesn't make it true.

Anonymous said...

"As informed adults, we know that smoking is a deadly addiction that kills half of all smokers."

Brain dead is more like it.

In America there are about 94 million ever-smokers and about 393,000 smoking 'caused; deaths every year.

Half of 94 million is 47 million and 47 million divided by 393,000 per year is 119 years.

This idiot is saying that most ever-smokers live to be about 119 years of age!!!

Gary K.

Christopher Snowdon said...

"Half of 94 million is 47 million and 47 million divided by 393,000 per year is 119 years."

This makes no sense whatsoever.