Killing The Product

From Scriblerus blog Factsdomatter (click on image for larger version), the relative importance of various factors in choice of cigarettes:

choice_factors

Looking at this table, starting at the bottom, we know that “plain packaging” has been foisted on cigarettes. I also read recently that there was a plan for standard package sizes, and that would fix the length and diameter of cigarettes – the shape -. There are also moves to ban menthol and other flavouring. And to the best of my knowledge there are already restrictions on tar and nicotine. The brand has effectively been lost with plain packaging. And the price is continually jacked up with tax hikes.

About the only thing that hasn’t been changed is the most important thing: the taste.

So what’s to stop Tobacco Control demanding to change the taste? Nothing, as far as I can see. So why don’t they require tobacco companies to add some extra ingredient that makes cigarettes taste exactly like shit? I imagine that this is probably the next step.

But if this can be done with cigarettes, why not with any other product?

sgt-pepper

Let’s say the product is Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. And Music Control has produced research showing that beat music in the near-heartbeat region can cause black-outs, seizures, and any number of other maladies. So then you start doing to this product what’s being done to tobacco products. You forbid any advertising.  You sell it from behind shutters. You put it in plain packaging. This means that the manufacturer’s name – the Beatles – is restricted to the top left corner of the sleeve, and the rest of the sleeve is covered in health warnings. Then you require all vinyl records to be one standard size and spin rate – say 45 rpm -. And then you require that the dangerous drum beats be muted on the record tracks, so that you can barely hear Ringo’s drumming. And in this manner, you gradually kill the product – which is exactly what you intend doing, in the name of “public health.” And in the case of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the packaging was far more important that any cigarette packaging.

And then do the same to any other product you disapprove of. Cheese. Bacon. Wine. Fast cars. Books. Anything.

People would still be “free” to buy records, books, cheese, bacon, and so on. But there would only be one flavour of cheese or bacon: shit-flavoured. And it would look like shit too. And it would cost an arm and a leg.

Tobacco products are just the first products with which all these restrictive measures have been introduced. It serves as the prototype, in which these various restrictive measures are tried and tested and perfected.

Everything else comes next. Cheese, bacon, wine, etc.

Of course, it would kill the economy. Products wouldn’t sell. Businesses would go bankrupt. Household names would vanish.

But as far as I can see, killing the economy is exactly what they want to do. For the sake of “health”. Or for the “children”. Or for the “planet”. Nothing else matters.

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About Frank Davis

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44 Responses to Killing The Product

  1. I agree with you completely on this – both about where it truly ends with anything, and about cigarettes being the ‘testing ground’ (‘proving ground’, maybe more apt?) for this grand social experiment.

    In my estimation the only real solution to it, in the short term, is to dodge and weave around them, subvert their efforts in all possible ways, and support the businesses who do as well. Case in point; in 2009, shortly after Obama was elected, one of the first things he ‘proudly’ did was to sign the SCHIP bill (State Childhood Health Insurance Program) – it was / is funded by a $1.01 federal tax on (a pack of 20) cigarettes (not sure if my number is exact, but pretty close), but it also included raising taxes on loose cigarette tobacco 2700%. It went from somewhere around $1.75 per pound to $25.00 + per pound tax overnight.

    I’d already been stuffing my own (pre made tubes with filters with the aid of a machine) since 2007. SCHIP was always something people in the various forums I frequented saw on the horizon. When it became something close to reality, I wondered in a thread, while other people were looking to stockpile supplies, what kept any manufacturer from relabeling their wares as pipe tobacco (which was relatively untouched by the tax)? Nothing, really, it turns out, and my favorite maker did just that. They obviously saw the same thing on the horizon and realized that as the tax didn’t apply anywhere near as much as on pipe tobacco as cigarette tobacco, they effectively just rebranded it as such.

    The cut changed slightly, but the blends didn’t. As far as I can tell, there is a vast undefined gamut of what specifically ‘pipe’ tobacco is. It can be shag cut or course, it can have flavors, toppings, different curing techniques. It’s probably next on the radar because it’s the last channel of ‘freedom’ if you will, in terms of making ones own smokes without resorting to growing, curing and cutting your own leaf (unless you consider buying whole ‘hands’ of tobacco (sold for ornamental purposes) which I’ve also purchased out of curiosity and logistics of knowing that may be the next most convenient option…). I doubt, however, that it will ever be totally prohibited. Marijuana was / is still in some places, but the current swirl and change of culture in marijuana makes me hopeful about the state of the war on tobacco.

    Marijuana is now legal in the state I live in; and ‘dispensaries’ abound – literally one every few blocks where one can go and buy pre-rolled joints, oils, extracts or whole ‘flowers’. I don’t mix well with Marijuana and I don’t smoke it. My girlfriend does, though. I enjoy the act of smoking with others more than any quibble about what they may be smoking, so often I buy or make joints for her to smoke in the evening with me. It’s interesting because everyone at the dispensary is a very enthusiastic user – loves talking at length about a particular strain, the potency, the sort of high one might get. I miss that aspect of tobacco. I miss going to smoke shops – I actually don’t think I’ve ever found one, but have dreamt of one – where people were avid users of it, saw the glory in it, and possessed encyclopedic knowledge of it. Imagine, all of the different curing processes, the blends, the company it should be enjoyed in. Tobacco has an equally lovely and more commanding history and role in society than marijuana ever has.

    I discovered this in the forums I frequented when I began making my own, realizing there was a lovely distinction about every step, every bit of process, every climate, every manner in which it is cured or made, not to mention the leaves, the different strains and variety of plant, the history and the sacred place it held among every culture . Marijuana afficianados somehow managed to keep and develop that culture (if not create one) – even while it was all underground, prohibited. And all of it, pining over street-grade-unknown-quality-whatever it may be bought in dark corners – nowhere near as organized or legal as what we have now.

    I sometimes wonder if what really keeps the war on smoking (cigarettes / tobacco) moving along the parade route it’s been on, maybe the grandest aspect of this social engineering spectacle, is this; they’ve stolen the concept of solidarity and pride among smokers by making the majority of us apologetic. They’ve managed to make (most of) us feel like shit for enjoying smoking tobacco. Most smokers have been trained to be ashamed and feel guilty and will do anything to spite themselves as penance. Most don’t profess to love it, enjoy it, let alone brag about it or think of it as anything good. It’s something we’re to regret, should quit, should be ashamed of. We’ve been shamed into doing their best and most destructive work for them, day in, day out. Contrast that with smoking marijuana and the culture around it; all of the users I’ve met seem to talk at length about the benefits of it. Their love of it. Its’ almost like a secret society you’re a part of – one they’re ready and willing to share and introduce non-smokers to. Passing a joint around, sharing a smoke among others – even offering it to people who ‘don’t’ isn’t considered strange – it’s a courtesy and a graceful gesture. And only a short while ago, it wasn’t uncommon to offer anyone a cigarette as you lit one up. It was a courtesy and a graceful gesture… And now these days, we’ve been trained to stand down wind and apologize for being too close to anyone, or even having the slightest scent of it on our clothes…

    I don’t know if I’ve rambled around too many tangents, but I’m always grateful to see that sometimes, in spite of all the efforts to undermine and re-engineer things, sometimes the form only changes. There are just as many people who smoke as at any other point in history, if not more. Someday they’ll all get it and band together.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Its’ almost like a secret society you’re a part of

      I remember it well. I was a member of that secret society for many years. Most of the people I knew were members of that secret society. I’d guess that about half the country is a member of that secret society, which isn’t really very secret at all.

      And I suspect that the same thing is going to happen with tobacco. After all, it’s another much-vilified drug, just like marijuana – which also has its own very distinctive odour. After a while, the vilification stops working. And, as you say, tobacco has a far longer history. And, in the end, that’s going to tell.

      The war on smoking is creating a solidarity among smokers that they never used to have, just like the war on marijuana created a solidarity among pot smokers. It the same as the way Christianity thrives on its martyrs. And tobacco has plenty of martyrs these days.

      Where I live, there are plenty of smokers. When I sit outside English pubs in summer, chances are that if anyone brings a drink outside, they’re going to light up too. All the way from old men to young mothers. And they smoke quite unashamedly And nobody complains. It’s perfectly normal. It always has been. And it delights me to see it.

      But it seems to me that smoking is an uniquely American thing. Tobacco was about the first product that America sold. As best I understand it, tobacco built America. So Americans ought to be proud of tobacco. It ought to symbolise a bond between them and the native Americans who first cultivated it. If there’s one thing I’ve got against Donald Trump, it’s that his America First pitch doesn’t include being pro-tobacco. Because, as I see it, anti-smoking is profoundly anti-American. And anti-smoking Hillary seems to me to be anti-American. Americans in particular need to stop apologising about tobacco, and start being proud of it. And they need to stop believing all the lies that are told about it just like the pot smokers stopped believing all the lies told about marijuana. It’s quite easy to do. I don’t believe a word of it any more.

      There are all these things that everyone is apologising for. Tobacco. Slavery. The British Empire. People need to stop apologising, stop being ashamed of everything.

    • Supergran says:

      It utterly DISGUSTS me that you can smoke weed but not cigs!!!!!!!! Dont get me wrong, I’m not against smoking weed (know loads of friends / family who do,) but how can it be that you can smoke something deemed illegal for years, but can’t smoke something that is NOT illegal? World’s gone bleedin mad!!

      • Frank Davis says:

        I had the impression that Tom smoked tobacco, and it was his girlfriend that smoked weed. Did I misread him?

        • Joe L. says:

          I read Supergran’s comment as though it wasn’t directed at Tom, but rather at the situation in general (i.e., “you” is a general pronoun, like “one”).

        • Supergran says:

          No, it’s just that there is more and more normalisation around weed and more and more DE-normalisation of ciggies. Bonkers!

        • sackersonwp says:

          Yes,some in the weed lobby like to be blind to any drawbacks of their particular vice.

        • Yes, I smoke tobacco, my girlfriend smokes only weed. I’ve tried it a few times, sprinkled in my tobacco, and it just has no appeal to me at all. I don’t like my brain feeling fogged, and that’s pretty much all it does to me. It makes me anxious, actually because there is nothing worse than feeling like I can’t think or connect things. Tobacco has the opposite effect; it makes me feel sharper and able to see connections I wouldn’t.

          I do find it hypocritical of people who smoke pot but hate cigarettes. Smoking is smoking, and even though the effects differ, there is a much larger issue at stake that people miss; people are going to do what they want with their bodies. It doesn’t matter if it is criminalized, taxed, prohibited. People will do it just the same. Always. But people get so myopic in viewing their particular pleasures as the only valid forms, and freely chastise others who have different ones from themselves.

        • Joe L. says:

          I don’t like my brain feeling fogged, and that’s pretty much all it does to me. It makes me anxious, actually because there is nothing worse than feeling like I can’t think or connect things.

          This precicely describes my personal experiences with weed, as well.

        • Frank Davis says:

          In large quantities, I too found it ‘fogging’. But in small amounts it tweaked my imagination in interesting ways.

          As for the coke that some people love to snort, it has no effect on me whatsoever.

  2. sackersonwp says:

    Can of worms. It is a pleasure, can be a compulsion, does have health risks. At some point people must be deemed to be free and responsible for themselves. Long as they don’t blow it my way.

    On the other hand there are the pressures of increasing access. My father, growing up in the Thirties, got onto cigarettes because the local newspaper shop sold them one at a time, with a match, for a penny. I understand there’s research showing that if youngsters do not start by a certain age they are unlikely to do so at all.

    Alcohol is another example of the government’s paradoxical approach. TV ads have stopped yet for revenue reasons the PTB seem keen to have us drink like fish – it’s why Prohibition in the US was repealed during the Depression. Look at how easy it is to get a licence to sell alcohol now in the UK – garages, post offices, newsagents etc – while the PTB issue feeble guidelines and warnings. If it really made a difference they wouldn’t do it.

    Same for gambling, which is wrecking lives via smartphone bingo etc. I hear daily adverts on Classic fm about how the ASA ensures ads are “legal, decent, honest and truthful” yet Freeview channels push gambling very hard indeed and you can run through your money on that faster even than with drink.

    The “nudging” isn’t all one way.

    • waltc says:

      There’s no “other hand.” I could have easy access and be bombarded with ads for yak dung pudding all day long but even if I were dumb enough to try it once, I’d never try it again. People consume alcohol, tobacco sugar, fat and salt because they find them pleasing. Same for gambling if that’s what turns you on. You like government regulation? Long as you don’t blow it my way.

      As for the slippery slope:

      http://www.nacsonline.com/Media/Daily/Pages/ND0808161.aspx#.V6rD2tT3arU

      • sackersonwp says:

        Hi, Walt!

        You could argue that the government isn’t regulating for our good, but to appear to care for us while actually legalising harmful things in order to raise indirect taxation, which is regressive, rather than direct taxation, which hits the sort of person who buys influence.

        And some may be rational and strong-willed, but many may overestimate their strength. I think the government and commercial interests bet on our weakness. “Use responsibly” gets them off the hook.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I understand there’s research showing that if youngsters do not start by a certain age they are unlikely to do so at all.

      I don’t believe a word of any “research” on smoking. It’s all garbage. And in fact I increasingly don’t believe a word of any “research” on anything. I’ve completely lost faith in experts and scientists and other authorities.

      does have health risks

      Not that I know of. I’ve never experienced any, nor seen any other smokers experience any.

      Long as they don’t blow it my way.

      If it isn’t clear to you already, I’m a very angry smoker and I detest everything antismoking. I’ll tolerate almost any commenters on my blog, but I seldom tolerate antismokers for very long.

      • sackersonwp says:

        I’m not antismoker, I just don’t find second hand smoke pleasant to me. As to risks, I was in the insurance industry and ultimately even Allied Dunbar with their BAT connection had to charge smokers more for their life cover.

        I don’t see why we couldn’t have stuck with the old arrangements in pubs – smoking rooms, snugs. The blanket approach is stupid and divisive.

        Please don’t argue from anger. I try to use logic and fact as far as I can. And I have always stood up to bullies.

        • Supergran says:

          See sackersonwp, you just felt you HAD to say “just don’t blow it my way” didn’t you? Utterly unnecessessary really as with that one comment, it’s obvious you have some distaste, and we absolutely dont need ANY MORE distaste from anyone. Distaste rules our everyday, but we dont have to hear it on here.

        • prog says:

          As someone employed by an insurance company, do you know whether there was any clear evidence that self proclaimed smokers were dying prematurely and/or suffering more from so-called smoking related diseases? Because I get the feeling that the insurance industry may be largely basing the justification for increased premiums on TC propaganda.

          Wouldn’t it preferable to for insurance companies to provide (unequivocal) evidence that their smoking customers are in greater danger? After all, they are in an ideal position to establish this and It would, at least, save TC a lot of time, money and trouble.

          I’ve tried searching online for the evidence but it seems that the industry appears to rely on anti smoking ‘experts’ to appraise risk. We had a similar thing a decade ago when ASH claimed to know more about the licensing trade than those running it. Bizarrely, the trade almost completely swallowed the SHS bullshit in the belief that smoke-free pubs would thrive.

        • sackersonwp says:

          Frank – I can understand why you as a smoker feel persecuted by the Prodnoses. I also suspect that if the government could throw a switch to stop smoking altogether they wouldn’t do it – too much money at stake. There’s a lot of hypocrisy. Btw: 1 July 2007 – date doesn’t register – what happened then?

          Prog – I was an IFA, though I started with 3 years at an insurance company. I believe the premium loading is all based on stats; Allied Dunbar took in a fair bit of life business when they were pretty much the last not to load smokers, but even they caved.. But your question also raises an important issue, namely whether all smokers are equally affected. I recall reading that it’s more like 1 in 4 that suffers a significant reduction in life expectancy – something like 20 years on average for that minority. My mother’s uncle weighed 300 lbs and smoked like a chimney, lived to his eighties – in fact he got my mother aa a young woman to half-smoke cigars to concentrate all the good stuff in the end, which he would then smoke himself. Roll the four-sided dice, I guess.

        • Frank Davis says:

          1 July 2007

          UK public smoking ban came into force, and I was expelled from society. It’s etched in the memory of smokers like me who found ourselves outside a pub that day. Nobody else remembers, of course.

        • sackersonwp says:

          Ah, now I know. I smoked heavily for 10 years but gave up 40 years ago, so that date didn’t register with me.

          The arguments against smoking need to be examined more closely, too. For example I have said that insurance companies charge more for life cover for smokers, but the statistics don’t in themselves prove the causal connection. I could be – and I suspect it is – the case that many people smoke because it relieves stress, often owing to the work they have to do, so it may well be (contra the old saying) that it’s hard/nasty/stressful work that kills people. Everything is connected to everything else, as my GP friend would say.

        • Frank Davis says:

          Please don’t argue from anger.

          I’m sorry, but the way smokers are being treated fills me with burning rage. And has done so ever since 1 July 2007. And I think ours is an entirely justified anger. We are treated appallingly. And we ought to be angry. Far angrier than most of us are.

        • Tony says:

          I was working for a major UK insurance company in about 1981 when premium loading of life insurance for smokers first came in:

          ‘The premiums were not raised for actuarial reasons and the actuarial department were aware of the plan but had no part in it [In other words the premium loading was nothing to do with risk analysis]. It was purely a marketing initiative, conceived and driven by the marketing department, presumably to make the company seem more morally and socially responsible.’

          That was the explanation given to me personally by a senior company actuary at the time. And I was asking in an official capacity rather than on a personal basis.

        • sackersonwp says:

          Interesting. But the major sea change came, I think, in the late 80s/early 90s. As I recall, Allied Dunbar held out longest and I’d have thought that if they could have continued to do so profitably, they would have.

        • Tony says:

          Speculation then? I’m certainly not aware of any further risk that came to light during that time. Bear in mind that the company I worked for would also have been driven by profit motives back in 1981.

        • sackersonwp says:

          I don’t know, I guess you’d have to find an actuary. I know it caused extra difficulty for us, selling insurance.

  3. sackersonwp says:

    Yes, Supergran, I did have to say it. It’s a personal preference and it points out that sometimes we have to agree to disagree. I’m not for stopping others and equally I’m not for foisting an unpleasant experience on others (though oddly, I do like the smell of pipe tobacco). References to about disgust and distaste are in danger of becoming the SJW shout-down approach, completely antithetical to the liberal ethos at Martin Scriblerus.

    • Supergran says:

      Smoking is MY personal preference. If a colleague was talking to you with the most atrocious stinking breath, you wouldnt DREAM of saying “Jesus, that stinks” but it’s perfectly ok to just say it to a smoker. You’ll never understand. I’m not trying to be troublesome sackersonwp, but I would just love you to be ME (or Frank) since 01st July 2007 and see what I have had to put up with. And, like Frank, I am venomous with fury and anger and no one gives a shit.

    • Joe L. says:

      I’m not for stopping others and equally I’m not for foisting an unpleasant experience on others

      Then you must certainly agree that smoking bans should be repealed, and proprietors of private establishments should be allowed to decide whether or not they allow smoking in their place of business, do you not?

      • sackersonwp says:

        Yes, if they can cater for both smokers and non-smokers. They do in European airports, for example.

        • Joe L. says:

          I was asking about smoking and non-smoking establishments, at the discretion of the owner. No ‘catering’ to speak of. Customers have the right to give their business to a smoking or non-smoking business.

          Do you believe that as a non-smoker, it is your ‘right’ to be catered to in every establishment, public or private? As a smoker, for approximately the past ten years, I have been catered to practically nowhere. I have no yearning to be catered to; I just want to be treated fairly and with respect.

        • sackersonwp says:

          If there’s an alternative choice for the non-smoker. The asymmetry is that secondary smoke can be a problem for some people – e.g. asthmatics. I don’t suppose there’s always a perfect solution but at least people should be willing to look for compromise where it’s possible.

        • Tony says:

          There are two things that can trigger an asthma attack. Either an allergic reaction or fear, including fear of an asthma attack.

          Allergic reactions are reactions to exposure to a class of proteins called ‘allergens’. There are no allergens in tobacco smoke.

          Fear of an asthma attack being caused by exposure to tobacco smoke is without foundation but entirely understandable given the constant lies of the anti-smoking industry. It they who are really responsible for any harm in this regard.

        • sackersonwp says:

          Particulates?

        • Tony says:

          I haven’t heard of particulates causing asthma attacks except via the fear route. But I don’t claim to know everything.

        • sackersonwp says:

          Same here. Seems to me if smokers want change they should target a strong case – like the provision of separate rooms in pubs, where people are likely to stay for a significant time and don’t want to freeze or get wet outside in winter. Pick your battles.

        • nisakiman says:

          Yes, if they can cater for both smokers and non-smokers. They do in European airports, for example.

          The majority of European airports have deliberately small, badly ventilated and uncomfortable ‘booths of sin’ for smokers. As do airports around the world, if they ‘cater’ for smokers at all.

          Australia has no facilities whatsoever, or hadn’t when I was there about 15 years ago. I arrived in Melbourne having just done a nine hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, and was going on to Adelaide. There was a stopover of an hour or so for refuelling, so I disembarked to stretch my legs and have a much needed smoke. I asked a cleaning lady where I could go for a cigarette, and was told there was nowhere, as the whole airport was non-smoking, and anyone caught lighting up would get a $600 fine.

          I don’t call that ‘catering for smokers’.

          My local major airport (Athens) is probably one of the best, with a large and well ventilated smoker’s lounge in the centre of the departure area, a nice café bar (with sitting areas) just outside the doors, and also outside lots of covered seating and lots of large ashtrays, so smokers aren’t forced to litter.

    • Some French bloke says:

      “It’s a personal preference”

      Is this nose-sensitiveness of yours specific to (non-pipe) tobacco smoke, or does it extend to other potential sources of olfactory inconvenience, like heavy perfumes, for instance? If the former be the case, then we’re dealing with a sign of the selectively capnophobic times we’re living, and of how permeated you’ve allowed your consciousness to become by the global media drive to demonise tobacco smoking.
      In short, sackersonwp, your “personal preference” would be more of an impersonal aversion than you’d like to imagine!

      • sackersonwp says:

        Don’t you mean personal?

        • Some French bloke says:

          Well, not at all! I really meant “impersonal”, in the sense that such an aversion in this day and age is far more likely to result from social pressure (you know, that flood of negative publicity regarding exposure to tobacco smoke even in its most diluted form) than from an autonomous, well-informed appraisal of the real merits or perils of tobacco smoking on the part of the individual. This intellectual disapproval is clearly induced and in no way sponaneous, and may even translate to some degree of physical repulsion – particularly in the case of ex-smokers, like yourself – which itself is unlikely to be the result of some personal, native, physical disagreement, for then how could you have endured the condition of being a heavy smoker for ten years (as stated above)?

        • sackersonwp says:

          Compulsion. Took several goes to give up.

  4. jameshigham says:

    Think we should not invoke Scriblerus at any particular blog as it’s a separate thing. What is said on any individual blog is a matter for that blog and discussion can get heated. But the other is just a loose association of bloggers.

    • sackersonwp says:

      Fair do’s. James. But as paid-up members of the awkward squad we have to uphold each other’s right to be awkward. I think we have common cause in a liberal approach to debate.

      • prog says:

        You took an ill-judged detour in your approach with the ‘long as they don’t blow it my way’.

        Essentially, what you’re saying is that you’d rather not be in the company of people smoking cigarettes.

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