I’m writing this because of my addiction to tobacco. As an addict, I am in need of help. I do not mean help to break the addiction. I need help to decide what tobacco product has the least tar, the least nitrosamines, the least bla bla. In order to decide which tobacco product I wish to enjoy, I need information.
The advertising of tobacco products was banned decades ago, but what does ‘advertising’ mean? Does it mean that tobacco products should never be mentioned at all? Clearly, that cannot be the case otherwise there would never appear any mention of them in the press or on TV. Talking about tobacco products is not advertising. So we come to the sensible conclusion that ‘advertising’ involves persuasion to ……. Advertising need not be persuasion to purchase goods or services. Political parties advertise in their party political broadcasts. ‘Newsnight’ might spend a lot of time on talking about political parties, but (at least in theory) it does not actually promote any party – it does not ‘advertise’ the parties.
It must therefore be reasonable for PETS (People who Enjoy Tobacco) to have access to information about those products.
It seems that there is a crazy provision in the EU Tobacco Products Directive that menthol cigarette packets must not have the word ‘menthol’ on the packets.
Let us consider a possible scenario. Smoker A buys what he thinks is a packet of fags which he thinks are normal Benson and Hedges. When he opens the packet, takes out a cig and lights it, he finds that it is menthol. He does not like menthol. Smoker B buys a similar packet which he believes is menthol,opens it, lights a cig and finds that it is not menthol. He likes menthol.
The banning of the word ‘menthol’ on cig packets clearly indicates that there is something terribly wrong. The word ‘menthol’ is a simple statement of FACT. It is not advertising.
Which brings us to plain packaging.
The excuse for the hysteria from tobacco control was that the colours on cig packets were ‘enticing’. OK – let’s be stupid enough to believe that to be true, and so accept that cig packets should be colourless. Fine – let all fag packets be totally black. No names, no colours, no gruesome pictures – just black packets with black cigs inside black foil.
Suppose that someone, a billionaire, went to court and sued the government for damages since it had deprived him of information which he really, really wanted via PP. I stress – information. What blend of tobacco varieties? What strength of nicotine? How much tar, how much CO, how much nitrosamines, etc. Not all that info need be on the packet, but a reference to a website might be sufficient.
There is only one commodity that I know of which is uniquely homogeneous, and that is WATER. By water, in this context, I mean pure H2O. I know that our tap water is not pure, but it is near enough pure not to need a legislated gruesome picture of rotting teeth stuck to every tap. But what about paracetamol packets? Should they not be adorned with pics of dead, rotting bodies as a warning that they are dangerous? Do you know that the chemical ‘Sodium Chloride’, which is very, very dangerous if ingested in sufficient quantities, is sold without clear warnings and in packets without childproof locking devices? Do you know that bottles of dangerous chemicals know as ‘Scotch Whiskey’ are sold without childproof caps?
I sometimes think (in fact, have come to always think) that deprivation of knowledge and information is a key intention of the whole UN Millennium Goals structure. For example, in the UK there was a ‘Climate Change Control Act’ enacted. There was absolutely minimal discussion about it. It seemed to just ‘come about’. I doubt that anyone knows what happened and I guess that if you looked at Hansard to follow the discussions in Parliament, you will find an awful lot of hot air about impending doom and nothing at all about scientific reality.
It is hard to know how the future will go. Crazy though it might seem, “Evidence Based Policy” has turned out to be an “Experts” charter to create “Policy Based Evidence”. If it were not so serious, it would be comical.
And it is serious. Whenever I see Cameron’s face on the TV or in a newspaper, I see only a two dimensional portrait. When I hear him speak I hear only a two dimensional flow of words, no matter how much emphasis he tries to impart to the words. Everything about him, as PM, is flat; there is no volume. There is no past and there is no future; there is only NOW. There are no such things as natural ‘human rights’; there are only such things as legislated ‘human rights’. Thus, a ‘Christian’s’ imperative, based upon his beliefs, becomes illegal, whereas a Muslim’s imperatives, based upon his beliefs, are sacrosanct. Two dimensional.
I hope this idea is not too fanciful, and it is late. It seems to me that many good ideas begin as three dimensional. For example, tobacco smoking harm could have been properly investigated in three dimensions once the Doll studies produced epidemiological evidence of a connection between smoking and lung cancer. Around 1970, when the Doll Studies revealed the correlation, that was a two dimensional revelation. To make it three dimensional, all other factors should have been taken into account – genetics, air quality, age, etc. From 1970 onwards, Doll repeated the same formula, and, not surprisingly, came up with the same results.
The McTear Case in the Scottish Supreme Court blew the whole Doll thing apart. See:
There was no evidence at all that smoking causes lung cancer. None. None. None. The statement that ‘Smoking causes LC’ is like saying that all car crashes are caused by driver incompetence. Erm… if there is a crash between two cars, which of the two drivers was the incompetent one? How do you know, and how do you know, if both drivers are dead, what caused either driver A or B to swerve into the path of the other? I’m not sure that these sort of events lend themselves to statistical analysis in the sense of projecting the future. Yesterday’s random events will not necessarily be tomorrows random events. I should imagine that the inhabitants of Pompeii, when Vesuvius erupted and buried their town, killing thousands of them, would have agreed.
INFORMATION should not, in any way shape or form, be restricted. I honestly do not understand how The Zealots have got away with replacing information with hysterical propaganda.