This article is not intended to be pro or anti smoking, but if you detect a bias one way or the other then so be it. The intention is to be concerned about the precedent set at the Supreme Court today in respect of Tobacco Advertising & Control.
Although there are some questions over just how bad passive smoking is, one thing is certain and that it does not do anyone any good, so controlling and limiting smoking and places where people may do so is, I imagine, something that those that do and do not indulge agree on for the most part. This ban on advertising and promotion, however, does strike me as the Court throwing away income for many industries with little real benefit, and surely eyebrows are raised by the fact that they state it is upheld due to "international obligation".
I have met hundreds, if not thousands, of smokers, and the question as to why they smoke has never once been answered with the words "because of an advert". Sure, one or two fancy themselves as living the Camel or Marlboro Man life, but they were smokers anyway. Starting smoking appears to be because either their parents do/did or even did not and thus they rebelled, because their friends did (peer pressure) or simply they tasted the forbidden fruit whilst young and got quite an appetite for more. All the advertising I can recall for tobacco was apparently geared and getting existing smokers to switch to or stay with a brand; I cannot recall one saying "start smoking, it is excellent". Which is to say the advertising served a purpose and did make a difference, but not quite how the Court and the "experts" seem to presume.
I am not making the tired comparison about how smoking is better or worse than alcohol, but this "international obligation" point is interesting here. Soon we shall discover if alcohol advertising is to face a ban. That will be interesting - assuming international obligations are followed here, then no such ban will take place. Can you imagine the British or the Americans banning alcohol advertising and sponsorship of their big sports? No, not at all. Unless brazen, blatant double standards are introduced, alcohol advertising is here to stay, in accordance with "international obligations".
I have lost count of how many magazines no longer exist, sporting events no longer happen and concerts no longer held because the huge amounts of money cigarette manufacturers were prepared to plough into them to try and capture a bigger share of an existing market was taken away. It will get a good deal worse if the alcohol advertising ban is imposed.
After that, it will be the fast food outlets next in the firing line. Banning advertising, for example, for McDonalds and Budweiser will mean it shall be illegal for anyone in SA to broadcast the 2014 World Cup from Brazil. The Courts and certain Quangos seem to believe that a lot of people who normally would not shall all of a sudden start drinking beer and eating cheeseburgers because we saw pictures of them at a football match.
Any democracy which allows its Government to make a Nanny State does not really deserve that democracy. If the Government and the Courts really do presume that we are all that stupid that we would only indulge in bad or at the least unsocial habits purely because we saw a shiny picture or loud advert for them then more the fool us for allowing them to treat us with such contempt.
Perhaps you neither drink, smoke nor eat fast food. You are then either indifferent or happy with the bans in place and the proposed bans. I say be very careful with what you endorse, for you do not know what next they shall decide to ban on the basis that we are not intelligent or educated enough to make our own choices about. It could well be something you take for granted right now.
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