Fighting for the right to brand poisonous products

Hello, Waikato Times' readers! It's your bro, your pal, your buddy, the "Big Tobacco Lobbyist". How are you? You're good? Agree/Disagree?

You agree? Awesome, I knew you would. Hey, look. About that "plain packaging" thing. You're an intelligent person. Agree/Disagree? Cool. I knew you'd agree! Did you know that, "Tobacco packaging does not influence why people start smoking or why they quit?" Of course you did. You're an agreeable sort of person. So is the unbiased and trustworthy general manager of British American Tobacco New Zealand, Steve Rush, who said, "Tobacco packaging does not influence why people start smoking or why they quit". See? Plain packs won't do anything about smoking. Nothing at all. Nope. Completely useless. No point, right? Agree/Disagree?

On an unrelated note, please don't make us have plain packaging.

You've probably seen our ads on TV, assuming you're not blind. You may in fact be blind, in which case we will assume you are not reading this. If you are reading this, we can only assume your blindness was not a result of your God-given choice to smoke our delicious, deadly products. If it was, well, that's a shame, isn't it? At least you still have a sense of taste with which to enjoy our . . . oh. That's right. Smoking destroys your ability to taste things that aren't smoke. Anyway, this isn't about how our products, when used in the manner intended, damage you in so many ways. No, this is about a Man's Right To Make Informed Decisions in a Free and Democratic Society. Agree/Disagree? Good. Please don't force plain packaging on all those poor blind people. How else would they know what brand of death-sticks to buy? It's not like we're beer or wine, except when it suits us to say we're like beer or wine. They'll be making beer and wine have plain packaging next. How terrible! But it's not like it'll affect smoking rates. Our customers buy our products for the delicious taste, just like beer and wine. Nope, plain packaging won't do anything at all. That's why we're spending all this money to tell you it's a waste of time that won't stop people smoking.

Pretty please, don't make us have plain packaging.

We at British American Tobacco love nothing more than claiming "slippery slope". What could be more fun? Wheee! It's the best way to debate! Agree/Disagree? Naturally. Imagine if they get away with forcing us not to brand our packs - an innocent tobacco company that never lied about the deadly nature of its products for decades, while continually boosting the nicotine content to increase the addictiveness. They'll be banning butter next! Delicious butter! God, what a bunch of killjoys. Anti-smoking nanny-state fascists hate butter and also kittens. Agree/Disagree? You agree? Of course you do. It's not like we phrased the question in a way that makes sense. Visit our website to be further bamboozled.

You might notice our website doesn't actually offer a disagree option.

Why would it? Go there anyway. You can watch the television ad that's already annoyed you about 60,000 times all over again. Our website is great, you'll love it. Agree/Disagree? Exactly. By the way, have you stopped beating your wife yet?

Did you know our whole Agree/Disagree campaign has nothing to do with smoking! Never mind what we've been saying about how it won't affect smoking rates. That's not important. What's at stake here is a New Zealand Adult's Right To Choose. What's that? It's hard not to choose a product that you're clinically addicted to? That sounds like the sort of thing a health Nazi would say. Agree/Disagree? Told you so! Health Nazi! We tobacco companies have had a sudden urge to be all democratic and work for the greater good. We're all about exercising the freedom to become hopelessly addicted to a deadly substance. The fact we make more money when more people exercise the freedom to be addicted to our deadly products is irrelevant. We're not in this for the profits we're hopelessly addicted to. No, this is about the greater good. Besides, as we've already pointed out, plain packaging won't stop anyone from smoking.

We just want people to make informed decisions, and how can they do that without pretty pictures that mask the horrors that our products unleash on your bodies?

What's that? New Zealanders like the idea of plain packaging? You hate us for slowly killing your loved ones with addictive poisons? You want nothing more than to see the giant tobacco cartels crushed? Well - so's your face! We'll keep making cigarettes and we'll keep branding them, and you'll keep smoking!

Anyway, it's not like plain packaging will do anything anyway.

Please don't introduce plain packaging, New Zealand. You're frightening us.

Joshua Drummond is a Hamilton freelance writer. Agree/Disagree?

Waikato Times