I’ve been trying to get my head around the new Philip Morris ad (click to enlarge) that Dick Puddlecote is reporting:
The gist of it is that, just like millions of people are (supposedly) trying to give up smoking cigarettes, PMI is trying to stop selling cigarettes. It’s even offering to add inserts in its packets offering smokers advice on how to stop.
To me that reads like the Milk Marketing Board (if it still exists) trying to get people to stop buying milk. Or Toyota putting out ads telling people to stop buying cars. It’s the poacher turning (or trying to turn) gamekeeper.
Or PMI has decided that if you can’t beat Tobacco Control (and it seems they can’t), then they’ll just have too join them.
Or, in another analogy, it’s like some Waffen-SS division commander phoning up General Eisenhower or Montgomery towards the end of WW2 and offering to fight on the Allies’ side – perhaps adding that they’d already erased all the swastikas from their tanks.
It seems that Deborah Arnott doesn’t like it:
However, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health said the “offer to support” local authorities was nothing more than a donation, which is not allowed under World Health Organization guidelines.
“As Philip Morris well knows the government isn’t allowed to accept ‘donations’ from the tobacco industry,” she said.
“However, it does show that the industry has money to burn. Rather than making donations, it should be forced to pay the government more of its enormous profits.”
Tobacco Control need Big Tobacco as its enemy. Because if Tobacco Control is to portray itself as being on the side of the angels, it needs to keep Big Tobacco firmly on the side of the demons. That’s how it is in a manichaean universe where Good is always fighting Evil. Swapping sides is like changing (or trying to change) sex.
It’s just like US neocons need Russia to be an enemy. Because if there’s no enemy, then there’s nothing to fight, and no need to keep up arms production and development. And that would be terrible for arms manufacturers.
I’ll be interested to see how it goes. I like the way that PMI has stolen what seems to be NHS Blue for its ad.
But I think that PMI has no need to change sides. I think they’ve always been on the side of the angels, and that it’s Tobacco Control that is on the side of the devils – which is why I’ve recently begun to portray them as satanic.
After all, Big Tobacco has never done me any harm. Nor anybody else I know. The ‘harm’ they do has all been manufactured, conjured out of the air with statistics. But the harm that Tobacco Control has done to me is enormous: they destroyed the culture in which I lived, and deprived me of all my friends. And that is what they intended to do. Because when Deborah Arnott wrote that “smokers will be exiled to the outdoors”, she also implicitly expressed her wish for smokers to be thus exiled. She did not worry that smokers might be exiled to the outdoors, and expelled from society.
There was only one thing that she was worried about, as she set out a few lines further on back in that 2007 Don’t Hate The Smoker Guardian piece:
But we don’t want to see smokers marginalised, because there’s a danger that they’ll begin to see their habit as a badge of honour, a sign of individuality, something to be proud of.
Once smokers were exiled to the outdoors, they were bound to become marginalised. The outdoors are the margins of society. What Arnott was worried about was that smokers might become proud of their smoking, rather than ashamed of it. And she wanted to make them ashamed. Because exile to the outdoors was also intended to shame smokers. She was just a bit worried that it might backfire.
What she was not in the least bit worried about was what kind of damage might be done to society when large numbers of people were exiled to the outdoors, and thus driven to the margins of society. She was not at all bothered by the prospect of communities becoming divided, of friends falling out with each other, of pubs being bankrupted. She was just worried that smokers might not feel as ashamed as they were supposed to feel. She had no interest in communities or friends or pubs: hers was a monomaniacal fixation on ridding the world of tobacco. Nothing else mattered. Or was unfortunate collateral damage.
In the same piece she then went on to say:
While it’s important to accept the rights of smokers to carry on smoking, it also needs to be recognised that being a smoker is not a matter of free choice; they’re gripped by an addiction fuelled by the tobacco industry and they need support to give up.
And this is the twisted ideology of Tobacco Control, in which smokers are portrayed as helpless addicts created by Big Tobacco, and they all (or almost all) want to give up smoking, and so need help and “support” to do so. And this is how Tobacco Control portrays itself as being on the side of the angels: they’re “helping” and “supporting” smokers. It’s the same claim that pickpockets make when they “relieve” people of the burden of their wallets.
We’ll never know how Deborah Arnott might explain the tobacco-smoking tribe in the depths of the forests of New Guinea that I mentioned a few days ago. Would she say they only started smoking because someone had given them a packet of Lucky Strike a century ago, and they were still addicted today, and made do with wild tobacco and bamboo pipes?
I think PMI is making a mistake. They’re trying to shed their bad boy image by joining the Scouts. They should instead deny ever having done any harm, and instead point out all the real harm that Tobacco Control does. They should turn the tables on them, not try to swap sides.