Regular readers know that I am against smoking and you can read my Page – How Bad is Smoking? for full details. So, I was understandably entertained by John Oliver’s latest rant against smoking in general and cigarette companies in particular.
John Oliver with Jeff The Diseased Lung who looks like a cowboy with his hat and boots, an homage to the Marlboro Man.
So, who is Jeff? He is Oliver’s compromise marketing creation for cigarette companies who are fighting ‘plain packaging’ laws put out to protect citizens from the harm of smoking cigarettes. Jeff is a diseased lung who wears a cowboy hat and boots to show simultaneously the fun and result of smoking cigarettes. Read on to learn of Jeff’s gestation.
Last night, John Oliver, the investigative journalist masquerading as a comedian on HBO, demonstrated that the companies who create and market those coffin nails are possibly more insidious than the cigarettes themselves.
Since the cigarette bans smoking rates have declined dramatically here in the U.S. Adult smoking rates have fallen from 43 percent in 1965 to 18 percent today as a result of the attention to smoking dangers, the banning of ads from TV and smoking warnings on cigarette packages.
However, despite this decline, cigarette manufacturers are making more money now than ever. The reason is that people outside the U.S. are smoking more.
Indonesia is the home of the ‘smoking baby.’ That two-year old whose story went viral when video of him smoking a cigarette was broadcast.
It turns out that Phillip Morris International has a kiosk right next to a grade school where kids can buy individual cigarettes during quick breaks from classes in Indonesia.
in 2011 Australia passed plain packaging laws that accentuated the SMOKING KILLS labels and relegated the brand name to smaller type on the bottom of the package.
The Marlboro Men haven’t fared well as a result of their smoking.
This plain packaging cut into cigarette sales and the companies sued to get the laws changed. They lost and Australia’s court ordered them to pay court costs and legal fees, describing the firms’ arguments as, “… delusive…”“…unreal and synthetic …”“That conclusion is fatal to the case…”
Nonetheless, the cigarette firms have taken their legal arguments to Uruguay and Togo to get those countries to change their laws. Those are significantly smaller countries than Australia. Their entire gross domestic products are dwarfed by the annual revenues of the tobacco companies. As a result this heavy-handed activity by the companies is winning.
To enjoy the full flavor of John Oliver’s presentation, please invest the 18 or so minutes to watch his YouTube video. I promise it’s a lot funnier than this blog post.