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Cheers - AE

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Recommended surfing - UPDATED

Due to being short of time lately I haven't said anything about the news that Australia's Nannies have overtaken those of Britain in the race to be the first to introduce mandatory plain packaging for tobacco and actually unveiled a design.

For some reason this one features somebody
doing a Lord of the Rings tribute act
So not as plain as I'd thought since they're sticking with the usual 'shocking images', which most smokers have long since tuned out and which have no effect on non-smokers since they never look at the packets anyway. But certainly plain as in stripped of identifying branding such as logos and trademarks, and with a boring shade of olive green claimed to be the least attractive colour to smokers. It might be now but slap it on every single cigarette packet and I'm sure it'll soon become the smokers' firm favourite, being as it'll be associated with doing something they enjoy, or perhaps their new favourite colour will not in fact be a colour at all but a state of transparency similar to that of the bags containing the illegal ciggies and chop-chop some will turn to. Because that's the other elephant in the room - illegal drugs, including tobacco, come in plain packaging already and don't have any problem in either maintaining customers of attracting new ones. Only the Nanny minded campaigners and paternalist politicians could possibly have failed to notice that, which makes me wonder what they'll do when the grateful black market suppliers take up the slack. Ignore it probably, and point to decreasing tobacco tax revenues as evidence that fewer and fewer people are smoking, which falls in Robert McNamara's category of making important what can be measured rather than measuring what's important, while determinedly avoiding looking at the figures for smoking related illness or trying a more indicative look - sampling numbers of cigarette butts in household refuse, perhaps - at how many cigs are actually being smoked.

Having considered myself a non-smoker for a while now none of this concerns me except for two things: I'm certain it will fail and I'm positive that the Nannies, paternalists, health Nazis, control freaks and rent seekers will not stop there and will eventually target something I do like to do. To that end I stand with the smokers even though I stopped a few years ago, just as I stand with the drinkers even though I don't drink anymore either. Britain's drinkers, as related by Dick Puddlecote (here for instance), have been let down by self appointed representatives such as CAMRA and industry bodies alike, presumably because they hope that not making too many waves will keep the banners' attention focused elsewhere, such as their old favourite the tobacco industry. And of course it's true that the tobacco industry has steadily given ground as well, putting up with being told it may not advertise its still legal product, then that it may not promote it either, and then that it must add to the packaging images that look like something from a John Carpenter movie. Now it's to be told it may not even use its normal colours and logos and finally, belatedly, it's decided to draw a line in the sand and fight back.

In addition to the threat by several cigarette manufacturers of legal action over the loss - actually confiscation - of their intellectual property Phillip Morris has launched a new website in Australia called I Deserve To Be Heard. This is what they have to say about why they've done it. is an online resource for Australian adult smokers, supported by Philip Morris Limited, Australia.

Excessive tax increases on cigarettes, more smoking bans planned in outdoor areas, cigarettes not on display and now the latest idea is plain packaging for cigarettes - what's next?

It's time to have your say on these issues that directly affect you.

That's why we at Philip Morris decided to put together this website. It's your public forum. It's a place where you can have your say:

  • send a letter to your local MP
  • share your stories online
  • spread the word to others to get them involved too.

You deserve to be heard.
Even if you don't smoke, or like me did once but got bored and stopped, don't go thinking that you do not have a dog in this fight. The Righteous going after the smokers have also been going after the drinkers and depending on where in the world you are they have already added burger munchers, salad dodgers and people who don't exercise enough (by the standards of the Righteous, natch), along with people who like to add salt to their food, play adult oriented video games, use extreme porn (again, 'extreme' is being defined by the Righteous themselves for lack of any subjective measure), surf the web as you wish or ride bicycles without crash helmets, while recreational shooters have been, ironically, targets of Righteous thought for many decades. You may still eat meat, though you probably don't have to look far to find people who'll happily tell you how horribly you're going to die if you eat more than a certain amount per week. You may still breathe and have sex with other consenting adults, though since you're producing carbon dioxide and more planet bashing humans there are plenty among the more extreme ecolytes who'd prefer you not to do either. You may still drive but there are people who want to ban your car from cities and to have semi-control over it elsewhere. You may enjoy doing any number of things, but if someone whose only enjoyment comes in stopping others having fun feels it's bad for you, or even insufficiently good for, then you can be sure that eventually one of them will ask you, and then tell you, to put a stop to it. If there's the slightest chance they can claim it effects or offends others, especially children, even if the chance is microscopic or totally bogus, you should expect it to happen all the sooner.

We are all living in Niemöller's poem and will eventually hear the sound of boots marching in our direction if we chose to remain silent while others get worked over. You don't have to be a smoker, you don't have to learn to like smoking or smokers, you don't have to let them smoke in your house, you don't have to give them any respect and they don't ask for any. But you do need to understand that if you don't stand with them then you'll have to stand with someone else later, or continue to wait until there is nobody left and you are forced to fall alone. Those are your choices. Tobacco is where the main battle is right now, and they're finally beginning to shove back. They say they deserve to be heard and you'd be wise to listen and support them unless you want to be silenced and shut down in your turn.

Stand with the smokers. Add to your bookmarks.

UPDATE - also recommended is's rather Bioshock-y guide to Five Surefire Ways To Piss Off A Smoker. I'm sure using an ice plasmid instead of fire when someone asks for light is probably up there too.

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