I collect “plain packaging” these days. Because I imagine that one day that there will be a black museum filled with them, and with other relics of the war on smokers. Hushed groups of children, some of them crying, will be led around them by schoolteachers who tell them: “This is what they did to tobacco smokers back then.”
The name – “plain packaging” – is itself a lie, of course, because there’s nothing in the least bit plain about this packaging. It’s covered in lurid and obscene images and shouted warnings. And it’s not just that the name is a lie, but that all the messages and images are also lies.
And what is being done here, with this “plain packaging”? A product – in this case tobacco – is being completely defaced. It’s being vandalised. It may as well be being smeared with excrement. And we are being told not what the manufacturers of the product think of it, but what its critics and enemies think of it. And they cover it with messages of hate. They cover a product with negative advertising against it, designed to deter anyone from buying it.
If the same thing was being done to corn flakes or motor vehicles or perfumes, then everything would be covered in obscene images and shouted messages. Corn Flakes Kill. Cars Crush Children, Perfume Stinks. and so on. It’s possible to imagine a world in which there is no positive advertising in favour of anything, but only negative advertising that defames and defiles and degrades.
And that would be a very ugly world.
But that is what Tobacco Control is creating. In place of a former world filled with lovingly crafted, beautiful adverts for all sorts of products, they’re creating a world full of hate-filled, ugly adverts. And these spiteful, lying, obscene anti-adverts actually tell nothing about the products they deface, but speak volumes about the sick, lying, dirty minds of the people in Tobacco Control who created them. After all, they are the authors of these messages and images. And they are fully responsible for them.
And so “plain packaging” advertises to the world the mindset of Tobacco Control. It tells the world exactly how nasty and vicious they all are. And because their obscene images are now plastered over hundreds of millions of tobacco products, this anti-advertising programme is telling hundreds of millions of people just what bullying bastards they all really are.
The anti-advertising is supposed to be for smokers’ eyes only, but plenty of other people are going to see the nasty things. And what is some non-smoker or child who comes across these images and messages likely to think when they see these obscenities? They’ll be shocked. They’ll be shocked in the same way as they are shocked when they come across real pornography.
So these ugly bullets that Tobacco Control are firing in their millions at smokers will be hitting non-smokers just as hard as they hit any smokers. In fact, they will have a far greater impact on non-smokers than smokers, because smokers quickly learn to avert their eyes, and keep their heads down. It’s the non-smokers and the children who are likely to the most profoundly shocked and dismayed.
The ugliness that Tobacco Control is spewing into the world in the form of “plain packaging” has little or no effect on hardened veteran smokers. If anything, non-smokers are likely to feel a little sympathy for smokers who must live every day with their tobacco packets covered with such ghastly images and peremptory orders, and wonder what life would be like if corn flakes packages and bars of soap and pints of milk were similarly defaced. They may also feel a similar sympathy for smokers who must stand outdoors in all weathers in the street to smoke. The more that smokers are bullied, the more that they will attract sympathy.
This plain packaging also gives the lie (yet another lie!) to the idea that there is a powerful entity in the world called “Big Tobacco”. For quite obviously Tobacco Control is far more powerful than “Big Tobacco” if it can deface every single product the latter produces, and do so in every country in the world. Tobacco Control likes to portray itself as fighting an heroic, uphill battle against an industrial superpower, but the reality is that it is Tobacco Control that is the superpower bully, and Big Tobacco is its punched and beaten and bloodied victim lying helpless on the street.
And does Tobacco Control do any good at all? The tobacco companies at least manufacture a product that people want to buy, even if it is now covered in obscenities. But Tobacco Control produces absolutely nothing. Or it produces nothing but the obscenities it prints on tobacco packets. Tobacco Control is entirely destructive and vandalistic. And so while tobacco companies offer a wide range of choices of different sorts of tobacco, Tobacco Control always acts to remove all choice. Smoking bans always negate freedom and choice. Tobacco Control brings only the choiceless world of No Smoking.
And so the war of Tobacco Control upon smokers and tobacco companies is a conflict between a retreating world of freedom and truth and beauty and companionship, and an advancing world of constraint and lies and ugliness and isolation. But the more successful that Tobacco Control becomes, and the uglier and nastier it succeeds in making the world, the more obvious how nasty and ugly and mendacious Tobacco Control really is will become manifest to almost everybody. And so the triumph of Tobacco Control will also be its defeat, because Tobacco Control is gradually destroying itself.