Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cigarette Advertising: Something that get me really angry

I'll say it right now: smoking is a disgusting, life-destroying addiction.
Do not smoke around my children.
Do not smoke around me.
And any company that exists to profit from addicting people to this habit is pretty close to evil in my eyes.

My anger about the tobacco industry was reignited this week by two factors:
- hearing an excellent seminar by Prof. Melanie Wakefield, a behavioural psychologist at the Cancer Council Victoria, who described the important factors- in particular, increases in cigarette prices, restrictions on smoking in public places, and "shock" advertising- which have fueled the recent decline in smoking in Australia
- seeing the political advertisements by the Alliance of Australian Retailers* with lots of nice little corner shop owners saying that plain cigarette packaging will just make their lives hard, and, even more blatantly politically (specifically, anti-ALP), saying that "like the alcopops tax", there was "no evidence" that plain packaging of cigarettes would decrease smoking.
*I am too angry to link to any of the tobacco lobby's propaganda. Google it if you want to know...

These, plus a quick bit of googling, have led me to understand that
1. Plain packaging has the potential to reduce smoking rates, by reducing the appeal of cigarettes both to potential smokers and current smokers (reducing uptake and increasing quitting).(lots of research has confirmed this, including research by the tobacco lobby showing that "tobacco companies view cigarette packaging as an integral component of marketing strategy" (1))
2. The Alliance of Australian Retailers is almost entirely funded by the tobacco industry. No nice little corner shop owners there. (Phew, I was just about to boycott the local milkbar.)
3. The Labor Party is committed to plain cigarette packaging. The Liberal Party will "consider" it if in government... which is widely taken as a dismissal. (2)
4. The Liberal and National Parties continue to receive funding from the tobacco industry- millions of dollars in the past decade, with no plans to stop (3). The Labor Party has refused such donations since 2005 , and prior to this was funded to a lower extent (4).

Read what you want into it, but let's just say that I would vote for anything that reduces the exposure my children have to smoking.

Did I mention I was angry? Good thing the Liberal Party have forsaken my seat and not sent a single blue-ribboned doorknocker north of the Yarra, cos I would be wasting plenty of their time.

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