Friday, May 28, 2010

British Tabloids Have No Shame, But then Nor Does the Tabacco Industry

There is quite a bit of pablum on the interwebs this week about a Sumatran toddler taped by a British tabloid reporter smoking a cigarette like an extra from Mad Men. Also, notably, he's chubby. Apparently he had his first cigarette at 18 months (given to him by his father in a country where 60% of adult men smoke) and he's been addicted ever since. Salon has a good break down HERE.

Salon tries to divert the attention from the Sun commentors' vitrol at the parents toward the tobacco industry--and giving us important factoids about the tobacco industry's free reign in many developing countries where they sponsor events, advertise freely, have girls dressed in skimpy clothing giving out free samples and most notably breaking public health laws that aren't enforced due to poverty and corruption. A doctor has apparently talked to the parents before and after the airing of the video about the fact that their son will probably not live to adulthood due to the smoking and his weight, so some efforts have been made to help educate the parents, but these particular parents aren't really the issue. I am 100% sure that a British couple has at some point encouraged (as a joke) their toddler to smoke, but we don't hold that against an entire culture/country (as I'm 100% sure an American couple/parent has done so).

The fact is, we have 1. bad parents and 2. A POWERFUL TOBACCO INDUSTRY that has more influence in popular culture than any single industry, particularly one pushing cancer causing agents, should have. Like in the West, the developing world will have to go through a generation or two hacking to death before tougher regulation is implemented--although these lessons have already been learned before. Or, could we have international treaties that deal specifically with tobacco that learns from the mistakes of the developed world's past? Why not.

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