The Curious Thinking of Tobacco Control

Eventually, circumlocution bites back. The word ‘circumlocution’ means ‘talking around’. It means not addressing a problem directly to solve the problem.It means discussing a problem and complicating it, but not solving it.

I read a perfect example tonight. Some ‘professor’ at a university (Glasgow?) said that the medical porn on cig packets might be counter-productive. He reasoned that smokers were put off trying to ‘quit’ because the the horror messages on cig packs overwhelmed them; that smokers, seeing the medical porn, would despair because they could not cope, mentally, with the gap between reality and the medical porn. Has any reader of this blog ever seen a person with a huge cancer tumour on his neck, or anything even remotely similar, whatever the reason for that tumour? His idea is that smokers are put off trying to quit because the medical porn suggests that it is terribly difficult to quit.

So does this professor say that the medical porn should be discontinued? Well, yes, sort of. But he wants it replaced by ‘positive’ messages rather than ‘negative’ messages. Perhaps he has in mind pictures of athletes throwing themselves over obstacles, or happy ‘quitters’ grinning.

What he fails to observe is that smokers are not as pliant as he thinks. “smoking kills” messages have been on tobacco packs for years, but I never see those messages, any more than I see ‘traffic light’ messages. I just do not see them, nor do I care.

Feelings of ‘guilt’ and ‘shame’ do not derive from cig packets. They derive from laws. It is LAWS which promote guilt and shame. But people are not stupid, regardless of the expectations of professors of this or that. People know that their feelings of guilty or shame are irrational, even if it takes some time for them to come to that conclusion. It is when people realise that they have been cheated that they fight back.

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6 Responses to “The Curious Thinking of Tobacco Control”

  1. Darryl Says:

    The medical porn on tobacco packets hasn’t caused me to quit smoking. Quite the opposite. All this bully-state stuff just makes me want to keep smoking as an act of rebellion.
    If there is such a thing as the placebo effect then there must also be a nocebo effect. If you tell people long and loud enough they’ll get some disease or other by smoking then some of them just might.
    I don’t think the state really want smokers to quit. They are addicted to tobacco tax. By keeping smokers feeling guilty they think they can tax us as much as they want we’ll stay quiet.

    • junican Says:

      It has been obvious for ages that no one who has anything to do with smoking cessation wants all smokers to stop smoking all at once. They want a gradual decrease over a long period of time at some 2% per an. That is an incredibly dishonest approach when they are claiming that smoking is killing people right, left and centre. ASH ET AL should be calling for prohibition every minute of every day, if they are to be honest.

  2. Roberto Says:

    Medical porn and plain packaging have zero effect in smoking prevalence. The only “gain” for tobacco controllers is to allow them to vent, that is to loudly and publicly express how much they despise the “evil” substance (and as a logical extension, the users of the substance).

    There is no PP (yet) in Mexico, but the medical porn attached to tobacco products is quite prominent. However, the images are really surreal, kitchy, gore, exaggerated and overstated: example, a plastic fetus swimming in a see of cigarette buts !!. The images shock small children seeing the packs and boxes, so tobacco products in shops must be kept outside their sight, but it doesn’t work: as much as the clerks try to comply, their hiding the product arouses the curiosity of the children who end up seeing that rotten tumorous nose torn out from a contorted face when daddy or mommy is paying the bill at the supermaket. This has produced revulsion against the bad taste of regulators. I just ignore these labels, but it bothers me to see how they degrade the nice and pleasant work of wooden art craft involved in cigar boxes. I used to cherish these boxes, now I get rid of them as soon as I place the cigars in the humidifier.

    • junican Says:

      Agreed, but children are not as stupid as TC think. I remember hearing one of my aunts, in a discussion about something or other, “It must be true because it said so in the newspaper”. I cannot have been older than about 10 at the time. Even at that age, I asked myself, “Why should it be true just because it was in the newspaper?”
      When children see their parents smoking, do they see noses and teeth rotting? No they don’t, so they learn to disregard such pictures. In the past,children’s stories were pretty horrific (‘Hansel and Gretel’?). But we knew that they were stories. Cig packet medical porn falls into the same category.

  3. smokingscot Says:

    As I once pointed out, Tobacco Control are missing out on a thudding good idea.

    They know that a high percentage of smokers are from ethnic minorities.

    I suggested they start insisting these warnings go out in all the main languages.

    I mean Edinburgh City Council has all their bumph in something like 7 languages, so why not health warnings????

    And don’t anyone say it’s a white, middle class, broad thing (parody on what the ex President of Brazil says about the chap’s who have nicked her gravy train).

    • junican Says:

      LOL. But true. That’s another X millions of people who remain ‘uninformed’. At Manchester airport, whenever they announce a Pakistani departure, the announcers first announce in English and then in Pakistani. Have you ever noticed how ‘sing-song’ Pakistani is? The language is quite musical. All TC pronouncements should be in seven languages at least.
      I don’t know what you are referring to about the ex-President of Brazil…..

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