Wednesday, April 01, 2009

State sponsored deceit

According to The Telegraph, the government's (currently the biggest advertiser on television) anti-smoking ads are to be screened only after 7:30PM.

More than 60 people complained that the Government's "Scared" campaign on TV and radio would cause children stress or worry by suggesting their parents could die imminently if they smoked.

I've seen the ads and thought they were particularly daft - not least because they showed children of around 11-13 saying they weren't scare of this and that, but were scared of their beloved parent dying from smoking - then cut to the parent involved who looks to be around 30. Yep, lad - your dad's going to die .... in about forty or fifty years time.

Alternatively he could quit smoking and extend his life by ten years to become a dribbling, incontinent wreck shunted into an old folks home that you maybe see twice a year when you can be bothered to take a break from your busy life to travel the hundred miles to visit him from the town you moved away to when you were thirty yourself.

The Department of Health defended the advert thus.

Research also showed that children had a "real emotional fear" of their parents' smoking and that many smokers failed to realise the emotional and mental consequences their habit might have on their loved ones, the Department of Health said.

Yeah - they have a "real emotional fear" thanks to this sort of advertising and the general anti-smoking message that goes out from the government and various organisations - but that doesn't mean the fear is justified. Both my parents smoked - my mum still does - and I never had a "real emotional fear" that my parents would be killed by it. That fear comes from this sort of advertising which - if it were for anything else - would be deemed misleading and inaccurate.

My dad died in his mid-seventies from something completely unrelated to his 40 a day 60 year habit (even though the doctors were keen to attribute it to smoking - it was only because of another incident on the ward forced the hospital to perform an autopsy that the real cause of death was discovered). My mum quit smoking for two years on the advice of the doctor, piled on two stone in weight and became lethargic and inactive. Back to ten a day she is now a stone lighter and thinks nothing about walking the couple of miles to my house and back - she's nearly 80.

I've known hundreds - if not thousands - of smokers over the years and none have died particularly young as a result of smoking. All the people I know that did die young died as a result of something else - mostly car and motorcycle accidents, a few from AIDS (all gay, all dead before they were 50), two from cancer (not related to smoking) and a dozen or so from using drugs.

If the government and their associated agencies put as much effort into anti-drugs advertising as they do anti-smoking then I doubt we'd have half the problem we do have with drugs. Instead they waffle on about "harm-reduction" and getting the "facts" across. Of course, by the time the kids start to take any notice of this they are a couple of years older than those targeted by the anti-smoking ads, are starting to rationalise things, noticed that their parents aren't dead and come to the conclusion that the government are a bunch of lying hypocrites.

All of this is by the by as these adverts cross a boundary that nobody should allow in as much as they are actually designed to flagrantly undermine parental authority and replace it with the authority of the state. That alone is cause to have these sort of "pester power" advertisements taken off the air for good.


Anonymous said...

RS, those ads really get my gander well and truly up.

Kid: "I'm scared my Dad's going to die."

Well, yes he is one day. In fact, he is probably more likely to be run over by a bus on the way to work tomorrow than drop dead from a smoking related illness.

Stan said...

Would that be a diesel powered bus - the ones that pump out dangerous levels of carcinogens at ground level for our kids to hoover into their lungs while they walk to school?

Through my voluntary work I've gotten to know dozens of elderly smokers some of which have passed away with the obligatory "smoking related death" - yeah, at 87!

I also know three or four whose sole pleasure - and virtually the only thing they looked forward to -was their weekly trip to the pub for a half of bitter and a cigaretted - but the government put a stop to that. It's hard to answer them when they ask what they fought the war for only to be dumped and ignored by their kids and persecuted for wanting a cigarette with their beer.