There is a topic that has been puzzling me for some time now.
I am well used to the Tobacco Control Industry spouting their little soundbites. They wiffle on about half of all smokers dying [what do the rest do?], how smoking kills X thousand people a year [fill in the number of your choice] and all the other little snippets that they invent at their conventions. They trot them out so glibly that they must practice them every night and make a mental note to slip one of them in every third or fourth sentence.
The one that confuses me though is their dogged insistence that Big Tobacco are constantly dreaming up new ways to attract children into buying their brands.
Let's say for arguments sake that a tobacco company introduces a new brand called Disney. Its pack is all slinky and pink and curved with an image of Mickey Mouse on it. Its slogan is "Sooth that toddler's croup" and the company goes into full production.
Where does it go from there?
They can't advertise this new brand, as all advertising in any shape or form is banned. So no glossy images in magazines, on the cinema screen or on television.
The new packs are concealed behind "the wall of shame" in all shops so the kids can't see the new packs there.
So that leaves just one area open – the pack lying around at home or in the hand of a smoker in the street. We can discount the smoker in the street as the kids may notice the pack but won't be able to go any further. Unless they approach the smoker and start asking questions about the brand then they probably aren't even going to see the name or slogan. And anyway they can't barge into a shop and demand the new brand as presumably they will be refused, so that just leaves the pack lying around the house that mammy or daddy have left lying around.
But why would mammy or daddy leave a pack of Disney lying around when they don't know of its existence either? Because of the ban on advertising, the grown ups are completely unaware of any new brand so presumably are going to carry on asking for their Marlborough or Rothmans as they have always done.
Herself likes Silk Cut so when I am buying, I ask for Silk Cut [I was once approached by Mensa]. I don't go into the shop and ask if there any new brands she should try. I don't ask to see the pack first. Most shops now use a dispensing machine so when I ask for Silk Cut, they press a button [coincidentally marked “Silk Cut”] and out pops the pack. Since all these bans came in, the design of the pack has changed three times but I only became aware of it after I had made my purchase. There could be fifty new brands in there but I don't and can't know about them.
So a serious question – how exactly are the tobacco companies "targeting kids"?
I would dearly like to know.