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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Blog 47 Smoking Causes Government Insanity

...and cold-blooded, calculating, short-term, profiteering, self-interest

According to news reports, the decision not to legislate on plain packaging for cigarettes is because a. there is ‘no evidence’ plain packaging discourages smoking and b. it may lose jobs.

Let’s run that past again.

Plain packaging is not to be compulsory because there is no evidence that it will discourage smoking. The concurrent argument is that jobs may be lost. But if making packaging less attractive doesn’t reduce smoking then jobs will not be lost so basically the government are talking bare faced contradictory shite. If a. is true, b. becomes an obsolete argument and vice versa.

You can’t have it both ways.

That’s like saying you won’t reduce the speed limit on roads in built-up areas because there is no evidence that slower driving leads to fewer fatalities but also because if you reduce the speed limit some funeral parlours may go out of business.

It’s like saying children must not be encouraged to brush their teeth because there is no evidence it reduces decay but also dentists need the money.

It’s like saying grass is pink and we’re not listening la la la la we’re bonkers and we don’t care anyway.

It is one of the most depressing cynical announcements of recent times. (Yes I know I say that often but each cynical new announcement seems to trump the last one – or maybe I’m just fickle with my loyalty to the cynicalness of announcements and any new cynical announcement that comes along just catches my eye!!!)

Clearly the result is fuelled by the tobacco lobby and vested interest. When have the Tories ever worried about whether government decisions lead to job losses? And here they are dealing with an industry that is relying right now on getting the next generation of young people addicted in order to protect profits.

It is heartless on a level that makes leaving a toddler staggering round the fast lane of the M6 look caring.

If, as I have, you’ve watched a loved one struggling for their last gasps attached to oxygen, grey before the last breath has left their body having lived with the debilitating, life disfiguring horror of cigarette addiction from early youth, this decision is punch in the face.

In despair I watch kids, some young enough to be my grandchildren, sucking away on those white sticks as if their lives depend on it. In fact it is the profits of the tobacco firms and their share-holders that rely on their highly likely miserable, premature deaths.

A simple trick is to do the common-sense-test and turn the question around. If pretty packaging had no effect, would the cigarette manufacturers bother with the extra cost of it? The half answer to this is that it is a ruse to tempt smokers from one brand to another. But even that is a tacit admission that all that design work and gold and blue and red DOES attract people. If you accept that, how far are you from being able to determine if it encourages people to smoke in the first place? Too close to call in my view.

Then take the issue back to its roots (literally). Tobacco – which kills people – is being grown on land that could be helping to feed the world. Is that an issue we can ignore?

It is estimated that half of those who take up smoking will die prematurely from related illness. No other product would even be allowed on the market with that level of mortality rating let alone in ‘come get me’ wrapping.

We don’t send children up chimneys any more. We don’t send pregnant women down mines. We don’t hang people for stealing bread (or worse, send them to Australia) isn’t it time to protect young people from the cigarette industry?


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