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Saturday, 7 April 2012

Mad Men

Since time immemorial, man has sought dominance over his fellow man, and of course woman over woman.  When we look back at history, we see that leaders have always sought to dictate how people should live their lives.  The Nanny State is nothing new; it was just called a dictatorship, or a monarchy, or a democratically-elected government before some British MP [possibly] coined the term.  Modern-day pols want to be seen as doing something to protect women and children from every imaginable harm in the world, instead of being seen for what they are truly doing: taking your money and doing whatever the fuck they want with it.  Sometimes these leaders just make shit up from out of the ether.  The lesson we need to take home is that "anyone who would want to run a country is not someone who should ever be allowed to run a country."

It's an ego thing.  Politicians typically have over-inflated egos the size of Australia, and some have bellies almost as a large as well.  Politicians believe that they alone can save the world, or perhaps more aptly that they can save you from the world.  So, naturally, I come back to my little pet, Stephen Williams MP, the UK's slovenly chairman of the All-Party Group on Smoking and Health.  When I read what he says in Parliamentary debates, I just want to bash baby seals in the face with a giant redwood tree.  Here are some of things he said during the Illegal Alcohol and Tobacco Sales debate on 27 March 2012 - emphasis mine in all cases.

[I] want to make it absolutely clear that my group is against smoking [...]

The next necessary stage in tobacco control is introducing what has been called plain packaging for cigarettes, although that is to some extent a misnomer. The design of plain packs shows that they are anything but plain, but they would be of a standardised design in order to remove what is essentially the last opportunity available to tobacco companies to promote their products: the design of packs, of packaging within the cardboard pack and of cigarettes, which now come in many shapes, sizes and colours to attract the next generation of gullible young people attracted by glitzy products that they think it is cool to consume. Of course, it is anything but.

I doubt whether the introduction of plain packaging will increase the opportunity for counterfeiting. If it does, it will only do so because the tobacco industry inflicts that problem on itself.

It could be argued that standardised packaging will limit the opportunities for people to import van loads of material supposedly for their own personal consumption [...].

[I] have been an evangelist for localism for a long time, and I am pleased that our coalition Government are pressing ahead with it—but we must make it clear as part of the Government’s national public health strategy that local authorities have a duty to use Government public protection officers more effectively in areas of tobacco control.

Driving down the smoking rate is good for public health outcomes in our country, and driving down illicit cigarette smoking while a legal trade still exists will be good for the public finances.

If [Ian Paisley] thinks that the introduction of plain, standardised packs is pointless, why does he think that the tobacco industry is going to fight it with all the resources at its disposal, and why does it put so much effort into providing attractive packs, colourful cigarettes, gold wrapping and all the other paraphernalia that goes with the marketing of cigarettes? Surely, it is wasting its money if that has no effect.

Wow.  That last one sounds familiar. Where have I heard that argument before?  I wonder...

Sadly, it will probably work to convince all of the morons in government.

OK, people, go read the whole thing to see what kind of mad men we're dealing with. All of it.  It will take you about 10 to 15 minutes, maybe fewer if you can read like the wind.  It even covers alcohol and minimum pricing and all of that happy horseshit.

Gotta give huge props to Ian Paisley MP for at least debating the issue with some common sense:

Ian Paisley: The tobacco industry is able to speak for itself, but one of the reasons why it is annoyed is that this is an infringement on its trading rights, its branding and all the things in which it has invested over the years. It would be wrong to turn around and say that we can just remove those things overnight.

The industry argues that it would damage the actual trade, so let us look at that and what it costs. In my constituency, more than 1,000 people are directly employed in the tobacco industry. In Manchester, another 800 people are directly employed in the manufacturing of cigarettes. If we are not careful, those jobs will go to eastern bloc countries and to Europe—they will move out of this country. Will that affect the number of people who smoke cigarettes? Not one jot. The same number of people will continue to smoke cigarettes, but they will be manufactured elsewhere. We will be the biggest losers, because we will have lost the jobs, the tax and the pay-as-you-earn tax.

Goddess Christina Hendricks needs protection from glitzy cigarette packs, so let me save this one, please!
Photo Credit: NY Post/Liz Sullivan