Time for a little soul-searching to creep into the tobacco
advertising and alcopops debates. They are both areas in which private
beliefs might conflict with professional positions. In the end, each
individual has to ask which is the more important to them.
Alcopops is simple. The brewers’ position is indefensible beyond a
business perspective. Let’s be honest, the advertising - not to mention
the packaging and the flavour of the products themselves - is aimed at a
It uses imagery and an attitude that appeal to a loose group of young
people, that certainly includes those under the legal drinking age. The
brewers know this, their ad agencies and design consultancies know
It is immoral behaviour and, I would argue, unprofessional, because the
shameless disingenuousness of the defences proffered make people less
inclined to believe more sustainable defences in other controversial
The only admissible defence is that alcopops are legally available. This
situation must change soon. There’s more at stake than a drop in
Tobacco is more difficult. I’m a rabid anti-smoker, and fail to see why
it’s fine to walk about puffing smelly dried weeds, and inflicting the
odour and fumes on everyone else. And, as a principle isn’t a principle
until it costs you something, it’s cost me a good few otherwise
deliciously enticing snogs. Sadly, my idea to have the product banned
shows no prospect of success. Therefore, I believe, the manufacturers
should be able to advertise their disgusting wares.
It is the only defensible position. However, so many industry figures
have spouted the Machiavellian ’advertising doesn’t encourage
consumption, only brand-switching’ nonsense for so long, some actually
now believe it. As for an ad ban giving rise to a price war and
therefore increased consumption, please! Do we really believe it is
beyond the wit of our new Government to whack on more duty to negate
such price cuts?
The argument that playground word-of-mouth is a greater influence than
advertising is the most obscene. Why is smoking cool? First, because
it’s illicit, and anything illicit is cool to the young. Second, the
images associated with smoking are cool. Once, this meant great
Hollywood stars smoking on the silver screen. Today, given the lengths
TV and film-makers go to avoid such images, the source of the
association with cool is advertising. Dot Cotton puffing away in the
Queen Vic is not cool, but Marlboro and Silk Cut ads are.
Perhaps some readers think I’m being naive in expressing these views.
But it’s better to be honest than twist ourselves up in knots trying to
defend what we feel to be wrong, just because that’s what we’re told we
Perspective, page 17.