herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Anton Savage: Our products kill a lot of people, but we'll always have 'strong principles'

A smoker
A smoker
Zayn Malik
Micheal Martin
An explosion on O'Connell Street in 1916
Minister Heather Humphries

It's being reported that Japan Tobacco International is issuing legal proceedings to prevent the Government from passing legislation introducing plain packaging.

JTI is undoubtedly concerned about the impact plain packaging (complete with gory pictures) will have on their brand and sales. You'd think though that for a company with 'strong principles', these concerns would be secondary to human life.

"But hang on!" you say, "what's all this about 'strong principles?' Since when do tobacco companies have any principles?'"

Well, JTI, far from being thoughtless purveyors of death, operate by a set of six ethical 'core principles' in relation to smoking. Let's apply the principles to their alleged lawsuit.

1. "Smoking is a cause of serious diseases including lung cancer, coronary heart disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. JTI supports efforts to advise smokers accordingly. Everyone should be appropriately informed about the health risks of smoking."

Their words, not mine. So if they want to appropriately inform everyone about the health risks of their products, what better way than plastering the packets with pictures of the end results of smoking?

2. "Smokers want to know what it is they are smoking. JTI provides information about the ingredients it uses in its products on this website."

It does. It takes a few clicks to find them, but they are there. All 200+ of them. Including such organic-sounding stuff as ethyl butyrate, paraffin and three different types of iron oxide.

Now you could understand them suing if they were forced to put all that on their packs - they'd have to be three feet long.

3. "While the health risks of tobacco use cannot be completely eliminated, JTI is committed to the development of reduced-risk products that are acceptable to adult smokers."

Doing a bang-up job on this one. Only half their customers are killed by their products. Big success.

4. "Minors should not smoke and should not have access to tobacco products. This belief is central to JTI's Code of Conduct."

What better way to convince kids that smoking is bad than having every pack look awful and scarily repulsive?

5. "Many people have concerns about exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. All smokers should show consideration for those around them, and should not smoke when children are present."

Ya don't say.

6. "JTI is respectful of each country's culture, norms, legislation and decision-making process."

That last one's a cracker ain't it? Being respectful of our culture, norms and legislation and decision-making processes clearly means suing us on the grounds we are not competent to make decisions relating to the health of our citizens.

Isn't it amazing that a company in a sector responsible for the deaths of one in five Irish people can still find a way to make itself more distasteful?

 

April 1st is so pointless, I almost didn't believe Longford is a tourist mecca

April Fool's Day is a crappy holiday that needs to be banned. Yesterday we discovered that a giant tourist park is coming to Longford and a sinkhole opened up on Dublin's Dame Street.

Both of these things are amazing. If they're true. The people in Longford County Council and passers-by in Dublin have all sworn a hole in an iron pot that both things are gospel.

The Longford move is reputedly the single biggest private investment in tourism in Irish history.

But because they were announced on April 1, a doubt hangs over both revelations. Instead of being able to chat about the news that Dublin is disappearing into the core of the Earth and Longford is a tourist hub, we've all had to dance around the issues in case someone pointed a finger at us and said 'what kind of naive moron are you? It's April Fool's!'

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Being constantly on your guard in case someone mocks you is why most of us are glad to not be teenagers anymore.

Why we allowed the creation of mass paranoia to become a yearly event is a mystery.

It's the absolute reverse of what we should be doing - we are using peer pressure to incentivise people to undermine each other's confidence. We're encouraging people to go out of their way to con and delude others, while pretending it's 'fun'.

On reflection, I may be taking this way too seriously, but I really really want to believe there's a sinkhole in Dame's Street.

I also really really want to believe that David Cameron is Kim Kardashian's cousin, that Zayn Malik has gone solo and that the Government is going to send out several hundred Easter eggs to schools around the country to commemorate the Easter Rising. Tell me it's all true?

Can FF  bear any more Opposition?

Both Michael Martin and Willie O'Dea have suggested that disgruntled Fianna Fail TDs should try shutting the hell up (that's not exactly how they put it, but that was the general gist).

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It's not the TDs' fault that they are complaining. Nor is it the leader's. It's the nature of opposition: being stuck on the Opposition benches is dull beyond compare. Particularly when some of those who are there have previously felt the caress of ministerial car and office.

The run-up to the next election will keep them busy soon enough. And if they get into Government then there's loads to occupy most of them. The big question is what happens if they return to opposition again. That could prove very tricky.

Why celebrate  political violence?

Engaging every schoolchild in the nation would be great if we were celebrating the day we became a Republic, or even the day the Free State was established. But neither happened in Easter 1916. In 1916 a group of people decided to deliver on their political beliefs through violence (inset). We've made them heroes and martyrs since.

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But maybe we should pause and consider if celebrating violence is a good thing, even if it was the genesis of the State?

THis week we were told by Arts Minister Heather Humphreys (left), among others, about the plans for the centenary of 1916 next year. Apart from all the parades and general pomp and ceremony, a copy of the Proclamation of Independence and a Tricolour are going to be sent to every school.

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