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    For pity's sake, give that man a cigarette!!!!
    Posted by BrianC on October 14, 2003, 1:58 am

    Tony, read it and understand it first. I did publish a series of feature stories in the paper here a couple of years ago and some researchers actually went off and did a bit of hard research that backs up precisely what I am pointing to. Much more research needs to be done yet. There is nothing wrong with the existing research. Those statistics about the number of deaths from lung cancer etc., etc. are entirely reliable and I have no dispute with them. What I am drawing attention to is what has been left out. They have not told us the other side of the statistics ‚ and for understandable reasons. Everywhere around the world a massive proportion of the budget for health research is now forcibly extracted from "the tobacco giants" and ultimately that comes from those who can still afford (or not afford!!!) to smoke. Demographically today they do tend to be the lower socio-economic sectors in society (echoes of who is funding the Poker Machine industry in Victoria, Tattersalls Charities and another great swathe of the health budget as shown on Four Corners tonight eh?). There are a few notable exceptions to that general rule ... like John Elliott, Maggie, Amanda, myself, Briggsie, Fr Mick Kelly ‚ all eminent capitalists the lot of them ‚ and I think there are quite a few other lurking or closest smokers in this community as well (LOL).

    Compounding the problem is that you may remember all those years ago when the governments started to ban tobacco advertising that left an enormous hole in the advertising revenue brought in by all the big media chains and television networks. How that was redressed is that the politicians did a "trade off" with the likes of Packer, Murdoch, and Fairfax where they promised to invest equivalent amounts of money into media advertising and so the QUIT campaign was born ‚ and road safety and all manner of other government advertising campaigns. When the Tobacco multinationals were allowed to advertise there was no significant government advertising in the media, except perhaps for classified job advertising. The commercial media everywhere around the world today is as beholden to governments for a major proportion of their advertising revenue as much as in the past they were beholden to the likes of Phillip Morris, Rothmans, British American Tobacco, WD&HO Wills, RJ Reynolds, etc etc. It is not some "conspiracy theory" Tony. It is the stark economic realities of how the media makes its money but they are not likely to be blabbing that from the rooftops are they given what happened to their previous major sponsors. The government raised the funds to do it by the escalating taxes that they placed on the sale of tobacco products. The media, the health care profession, the cancer research profession, not to mention the anti-smoking industry (organisations like QUIT that are funded by government) have an enormous vested interest today in only publishing the statistics of the harm done by tobacco and in suppressing all statistics about the benefits that some people ‚ and in the past ‚ many people derived from tobacco. Those pictures we used to see of soldiers injured in battle during the war being given a cigarette were not a fiction. It was one of the fastest ways to calm a man down from severe shock and save him from further damage. It "settled" his whole psyche.

    I am sorry to have to shatter one of your own dearly loved "conspiracy theories" about the terrible things that these tobacco giants have been doing all these decades. (By the way I am not paid by the Tobacco multi-nationals to write this. Neither am I paid by the government or the health industry side to write it. My only "vested interest" is that I do enjoy a cigarette and over the years I have thought about this alot and I think on balance the risks are worth taking. The penny really dropped for me though when at one stage I literally could not afford cigarettes for a period and that was one of the worst periods of my own personal instability where I was suicidal. I have also had quite a number of relations who did live into very old age and smoked quite happily right up until their deaths and didn't die of lung cancer or a stroke. I have also had some who have. As I said there are risks. I don't doubt that. I think, on balance, they are worth taking in my case. I do object to it costing me about ten bucks a day now though.)

    I've got a bet on that in fifty years time the whole scene will have turned again and tobacco will be back on the agenda as being beneficial to life in enough cases that the risks are tolerable. Just look at the situation where Thalidomide was put back on the approved list by the Federal Government today! Everybody would have said that's a "conspiracy theory is up there with ëHarold Holt was abducted by aliensí." had I put forward a suggestion like that even two years ago.


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