How do they sleep?


The more I delve into the murky world of Big Tobacco, the darker it gets. But among all the bullshit and obfuscation, one point shines through: cigarette companies are absolutely shitting themselves about plain packaging and they’ll do anything they can to stop it coming in around the world.

Canada was the first country to introduce health warnings/graphic images on cigarette packets and within 10 years, 60 other countries had followed suit. Off the back of Australia bringing in plain packaging – and the proven positive effect it’s having on Australians’ health – Big Tobacco is clearly using the full spectrum of its dark arts to prevent it being introduced elsewhere. That includes Philip Morris threatening to sue the British government if plain packaging comes into the UK. And getting that odious Australian Tory election advisor Lynton Crosby to lobby against plain packaging on their behalf. And, no doubt, cutting all kinds of deals with powerful friends in the Houses of Lords and Commons.

Looking online for thoughts from Big Tobacco on the current situation, I came across an interview with the CEO of Imperial Tobacco, Alison Cooper. She says: “I’m pleased with the trends for the key strategic brands and there is really good underlying momentum with these brands, which is outperforming the current industry trends. Looking at these brands, they really resonate with consumers internationally and you can see that coming through in the results in the first half.”

The way Cooper uses standard business jargon to talk about an addictive killer poison that her company is pushing onto the world makes me sick. The “really good underlying momentum” basically equates to more people smoking more cigarettes at the risk of more death and disease. But hey, it’s good to see the brands are “resonating with consumers”. Seriously, how does she sleep at night?

Perhaps I’m being naïve or idealistic in thinking that people power can bring down these dealers in death. But I do believe that education, persuasion and support are key; disseminating information and helping smokers to see cigarettes as the epic scam that they are. Plain packaging is a key part of that. If governments around the world stopped getting such stiffies for Big Tobacco’s blood money and focused on this and other ways to puncture the bogus glamour around smoking and expose the truth, we could start to take real steps towards seriously reducing the horrors these parasites wreak on society.


About antmelder
Executive Creative Director at Host/Havas Sydney; passionate vegetarian; lover of books, boxing and Bruce Springsteen.

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