The UK Government proposes to ban cigarette vending machines and branding on cigarette packets. The suggestion is that, since smoking kills around 85,000 people a year in Britain, we have to do something.
Dawn Primarolo, the Health Minister, whilst unable to provide any evidence that this approach will be effective says " ... everyone wants to stop children smoking, it kills them and it can't be right!"
That seems clear enough, the government knows that smoking kills children. But it is not true that 'everyone wants to stop children smoking' (see toffee flavoured cigarettes here). It has been established (see here, here and here) that the tobacco industry deliberately adds chemicals like ammonia to cigarettes in order to enhace addiction. They know what they are doing.
And they are doing very well, thank you. Recent figures show a revenue growth of 17% for Philip Morris in the USA, while the 2008 first quarter results for our very own BAT show an 18% rise in profits. In 2007 BAT sold 684 billion cigarettes and made over £3 billion profit.
The executives of large corporations are individually responsible for the ethical and legal conduct of their enterprises. When they act in a predatory manner, pursuing strategies which they know will kill people they must be held criminally accountable. The individual directors of the tobacco companies should be charged and put on trial for manslaughter.
These corporations are now so powerful that they can ride roughshod over the individual. They have money, power, influence and very often the law on their side. When faced by these predators we are all on the back foot.
Government can at last do something useful. It can stand up for us and protect our children. It has the muscle to take on and curb the global corporatists. I bet that putting all the senior tobacco executives behind bars would have a quicker and more certain effect on smoking habits than changing the labels on cigarette packets.
But don't hold your breath, the present crop of ministers would need a transplant before they could show some backbone. They have become simpering, spineless bullies, attacking defenseless little guys while looking over their shoulders for the approval of their corporate masters.
Posted by Nicholas Moore 12:52:02 am