Tag Archives: British American Tobacco

How to smoke without smoking – Part II

‘There’s such a craving for cessation!’

This cynical comment was made to me by Christopher Proctor, chief scientist of British American Tobacco, the company whose poisonous products, legally on sale everywhere, are responsible for about 9,600 deaths every year in the UK. (They have 10% of the cigarette market and 96,000 people die annually from smoking-related diseases in the UK – latest figures from ASH.)

There’s gold in them thar smoking cessation! Now every man and his dog are jumping onto the bandwagon.

Let me explain. The latest trick, would you believe it, is called Harmless Cigarette™. Just what we’ve been waiting for! It’s promoted as ‘A natural way to quit smoking’. (What’s an unnatural way then?)

The idea seems to be that whenever you have an urge to smoke you suck on one of these thingummies – they look like cigarettes – which are described as a ‘therapeutic quit smoking aid’ (the word ‘therapeutic’ is redundant) and that this helps ‘satisfy smoking behaviors and hand to mouth gestures associated with smoking.’ The key to how they allegedly work is given in the description of one variety, thus:

Harmless Cigarette™ Oxygen variant is both odorless and tasteless and does not contain any ingredients.

It does not contain any ingredients! And it’s only $19.95 a pack!

Though there may be a ‘hand to mouth’ muscle memory component of nicotine addiction, and it is possible these gadgets may satisfy that aspect, nonetheless mention of ‘smoking behaviours’ implies that smoking is a psychological problem. Indeed it is. I wrote a book with this title in 2016 – see under the ‘Buy now’ tab.

The psychological nature of smoking was recognised as long ago as 1964. The following is  from the US Surgeon General’s Report, Smoking and Health, published in that year.

The overwhelming evidence points to the conclusion that smoking – its beginning, habituation, and occasional discontinuation – is to a large extent psychologically and socially determined.

The psychological aspect of smoking is the key to successful quitting. This means that if smokers can be helped to understand why they smoke in spite of knowing the dangers, and why it seems so hard to stop – they can then stop smoking straightaway and with very little difficulty.

Text © Gabriel Symonds

More BAT Duplicity

Fumatul ucide is Spanish for smoking kills

In my tireless efforts to bring you the low-down on the tricks of the tobacco trade let me tell you about this little gem I came across recently from British American Tobacco (BAT):

http://www.bat.com/group/sites/UK__9D9KCY.nsf/vwPagesWebLive/DO8GSFQT

Under the page header the eye is drawn to the large print: ‘Our Guiding Principles’.

So BAT has principles. How very reassuring! Below that, just to make it clear, they write: ‘Steering the values of our business and our people’ and, repetitively, ‘Our Guiding Principles provide certainty about what we stand for and act as a compass to guide our behaviour.’

Nice to know BAT’s Guiding Principles provide certainly etc. Below these words is a screen on which you can see a short video: ‘Strength from adversity: a case study in Japan’. Click on the Play button and we get the BAT logo and company colours, the title of the film repeated and the wording ‘Pulling together in the wake of the tsunami in Japan’. Well, good for them! BAT was involved in assisting recovery from the terrible tragedy in Japan in 2011, it seems. The film shows amid the awful devastation individuals and small groups of men wearing suits and ties who explain how they made every effort to assist those affected by this disaster. And whom, in  particular, did they assist? Their retailers, their employees living along the coast, vendors and shop owners, and we hear from the local representative and the Vice President of this company.

But just a minute – what company are we talking about? Was BAT so big in Fukushima? Actually, no. It’s nothing to do with BAT. Look closely and you will see the film is about the Toyota Motor Corporation’s dealerships.

Let’s take a look another of BAT’s so-called guiding principles on this site. This is what it says – I am not making it up:

Freedom through Responsibility 

…We always strive to do the right thing, exercising our responsibility to society and other stakeholders. We use our freedom to take decisions and act in the best interest of consumers.

So society is just a stakeholder? Perhaps they meant to say ‘We always strive to exercise our responsibility to our shareholders.’ At least that would be believable. And if they wanted to show concern about doing the right thing and exercising their responsibility to society, to say nothing of acting in the best interests of their consumers, perhaps they should consider stopping making cigarettes.

Not surprisingly, what BAT says elsewhere on this site about the health risks of smoking is also put in a way that could be considered misleading:

The health risks in groups vary by the amount smoked, being highest in those that smoke for more years and smoke more cigarettes per day.

This could be taken as implying that if you don’t smoke too much or for too long it’s not so risky. But any smoking – even one cigarette – damages your health.

Experts advise no smoking during pregnancy – and we agree.

Do pregnant women need BAT’s patronising comment that they agree with the experts? And what if you happen not to be pregnant, or if you’re a man, then do experts not advise no smoking?

The only way to be certain of avoiding the risks of smoking is not to smoke.

So that lets BAT off the hook. No mention, however, of the fact that no matter how much smokers may want to avoid the risks of smoking, many find it extremely difficult to quit because they’re in the grip of nicotine addiction.

More disingenuousness is to be found in the section headed ‘Can people quit smoking?’, the question implying that perhaps they can’t.

Smoking can be hard to quit. Any adult thinking of starting to smoke should consider that it may be difficult to stop later.

Do adults thinking of starting to smoke first visit BAT’s website where they find the advice that they should consider that it may be difficult to stop later? Or do they smoke because they’re lured by the false promise of pleasure that BAT offers and then they find they’re hooked?

Then we have:

There is nothing so powerful about the pleasure of smoking that prevents smokers from quitting…

Note the implication that smokers may be prevented from quitting because they don’t want to give up the wonderful pleasure of smoking. Once again BAT conveniently avoids mentioning the real reason smokers may have difficult in quitting: it’s nothing to do with pleasure but everything to do with drug (nicotine) addiction caused by their poisonous products.

Text © Gabriel Symonds

Lies, Damned Lies and Big Tobacco

How can Nic’otine’andro Durante face himself in the mirror each morning?

Let me put it another way. What are 10,000 deaths a year in the UK worth?

To work this out we need to remember that one of the warning labels appearing on cigarette packs amusingly states ‘Smoking kills’. More precisely, smoking kills about 100,000 people each year in the UK. Now, British American Tobacco (BAT), whose CEO is the above-named Mr Durante, has a 10% share of the market so that means BAT is responsible for the deaths of 10,000 people each year in the UK. And the answer to the above intriguing question is the widely reported figure of £7.63m – this being Mr Durante’s 2016 salary, or ‘compensation’ as they quaintly put it, for his company’s legalised drug (nicotine) peddling with the aforementioned hilarious result.

It seems to me there is a kind of battle going on between the forces of righteousness on the one hand and the powers of darkness on the other. I refer, of course, to the do-gooders in the tobacco control movement, those working in specialised stop smoking clinics and other anti-smoking nazis versus those pulling in the opposite direction, namely, Big Tobacco with the collusion of governments who haven’t got the bottle to ban cigarettes.

Let me quote from BAT’s website:

Along with the pleasures of smoking, there are real risks of serious diseases such as lung cancer, respiratory disease and heart disease, and for many people, smoking is difficult to quit.

BAT’s mention of the pleasures of smoking as if it’s obvious or indisputable, is an assumption if not a downright lie. Smoking is not pleasurable or enjoyable – but it may seem so  – and the implication is that smokers need to weigh the alleged pleasures they gain from smoking against the health risks. But in any case, since BAT is so honest as to spell out the dangers of smoking, let’s give them a medal – or at any rate give their CEO a £7.63m pay cheque.

Then they dig themselves deeper into the hole with their ‘four key marketing principles’ – these seem to be some kind of promises. Here they are, but these so-called principles are more honoured in the breach than the observance:

  1. We will not mislead about the risks of smoking.

Although they say ‘for many people smoking is difficult to quit’ I can find nothing on their website about nicotine addiction as the reason for this difficulty. This major omission could be taken as amounting to being misleading.

  1. We will only market our products to adult smokers.

What do they mean by market? Advertise? Promote in media targeted at adults? In reality it’s almost impossible to shield children from cigarette marketing even if it’s supposed to be aimed only at adults. In any case, there’s no better way of marketing cigarettes to children than for them merely to see an adult smoking.

  1. We will not seek to influence the consumer’s decision about whether or not to smoke, nor how much to smoke.

But they do! What is their marketing for if not to influence non-smokers to try smoking? And after that they don’t have to do anything because a significant proportion of people who try the first cigarette are thenceforth addicted to nicotine so they feel compelled to go on smoking for years or even for the rest of their lives.

  1. It should always be clear to our consumers that our advertising originates from a tobacco company and that it is intended to promote the sale of our tobacco brands. 

They would say that, wouldn’t they. But it doesn’t exactly fit with BAT’s key marketing principle number 3.

Tobacco companies claim that their marketing is not intended to encourage young people to start smoking but to persuade established adult smokers to change brands. So that’s all right then. This is disingenuous. Do smokers find themselves in a pickle, thinking, ‘That’s a very persuasive advertisement for brand Y, I’ll change to it from my usual brand X.’? And if they then see an even more enticing advertisement for brand Z, do they say to themselves, ‘I must try brand Z from now on.’? Are smokers forever chopping and changing in response to the blandishments of Big Tobacco’s marketing efforts? It’s well known that smokers tend to stick with the same brand. What the marketing does achieve, however, is to keep the idea of smoking in the public eye and therefore people who wouldn’t otherwise smoke may be lured into trying it.

Now what about the pleasure(s) of smoking? Oscar Wilde in 1890 put it like this:

A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?

Time has moved on since then and any smoker can demonstrate to himself or herself that the pleasure of smoking is an illusion.

The exquisite state of being unsatisfied, however, is no illusion; it continues for the whole of a smoker’s smoking life. How to get out if it? That is the question!

Text © Gabriel Symonds