|Alluring? Not when the wrinkles hit!|
I don’t believe in telling people what to do, how to live their lives, what to do with their minds and bodies. I can’t abide the nanny state. Yet I confess that, when it comes to smoking, I find myself squirming in a hypocritical fashion because – yeah - I’m pretty censorious about smoking. It doesn’t take a psychologist to figure out why. My father died of lung cancer. I watched him die in a hospice. It wasn’t pretty. He was 52. I was ten.
Yet, y’know, that didn’t stop me smoking when I was a teenager. Why? Because I thought it was cool.
While I figure that if adults want to wreck their bodies and give themselves fag faces, not to mention stinky breath (see, toldya I was censorious) then that’s up to them (providing they don’t blow their smoke in my lungs). But when it comes to children, that’s something quite different. Hence this blog post.
Today Cancer Research UK are launching a campaign called The Answer is Plain, asking for all branding to be removed from tobacco packaging.
It may sound a bit petty in the scheme of things but branding and marketing are powerful tools. We respond to visual stimuli at a subconscious level. The researchers showed first cereal boxes and then cigarette packets to a group of six to 11 year olds. These are a few of their comments (to the cigarettes, not the cereal).
“It makes you feel like you’re in a wonderland of happiness.”
“The pictures actually look quite nice. Ice cubes and mint.”
“It reminds me of a Ferrari.”
“Is that the Royal Sign?”
“Yeah. Pink, Pink, Pink”.
|Even saying "Smoking kills" doesn't put people off!|
While I don’t think Cancer Research UK are saying the manufacturers are directly appealing to children per se, the tobacco companies are certainly putting out products designed to be alluring to teenagers. And the cynic in me says that the tobacco companies probably don’t remotely mind that the seeds of desire are set early.
The charity is pretty clear that we can’t stop people choosing to smoke. Their director of tobacco control simply says: ‘We need to give young people one less reason to start smoking.’
Will a plain pack work? To be honest, I’m not entirely convinced. When I was a kid, cigarette packaging wasn’t terribly sophisticated yet I still thought it was cool. So far James thinks smoking is ‘pretty disgusting’ and I just pray he continues to think that way. He sees his grandfather (Adrian’s father) barely able to walk, hooked up to an oxygen mask because of emphysema and that, coupled with his love of sport, seems to be an effective deterrent so far. Will it last? God, I hope so.
However, I was asked if I’d put up this video on my blog and so – here it is. Watch it and see what you reckon. If you want to spread the word, sign the petition or whatever – well, I don’t see it can harm – and if it stops even a handful of children from wrecking their lungs, then that’s a win as far as I’m concerned.