Anti-Smoking People fuming over Britain’s Failure to enforce Plain Cigarette Packaging

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 14th, 2013

Week in Review

I was talking to a woman I knew who was in her 40s.  She took out a cigarette and lit up.  I asked her why she started smoking.  Was it the pretty cigarette packages?  The cigarette advertisements in her youth?  For back then the Joe Camel ads were still out.  As well as a slew of other cigarette ads.  Including cars painted up with Kool cigarette advertisements driving around town.  And the Virginia Slim ads were telling women they’ve “come a long way.”  Smoking advertisements were everywhere.  So did these things prove so attractive and irresistible that she could no longer withstand the lure of cigarette advertising?  No.  She started smoking because all her friends were smoking.

Kids want two things in life more than anything else.  To be grown-up.  And to be cool.  That’s why they start smoking.  Because smoking is only for grownups.  By law.  Which makes them look grown-up when they smoke.  Because only grownups smoke.

Then there is the cool thing.  Boys worship their rock heroes.  The guys who play their low-slung guitars with a cigarette dangling out of their mouth.  It’s just so cool looking.  Keith Richards.  Jimmy Page.  Eddie Van Halen.  Slash.  You name a guitar superstar and odds are there is a poster selling somewhere of him with a cigarette dangling from his mouth.

The stars in the movies they watch seem to all smoke.  For there is nothing cooler than a grizzled actor suffering through a stressful scene lighting up a cigarette afterwards to enjoy some soothing relaxation.  And few things are sexier than a femme fatale that seductively smokes a cigarette.  Our girls see this.  And they, too, want to be grown-up and sexy.  Which is why so many of them start smoking.  And when all of their friends are smoking, too, it just doesn’t seem like there is anything wrong with it.  And because all their friends are having sex that, too, seems okay.  It’s the softer side of peer pressure.  Well it can’t be bad if EVERYONE is doing it.

This is why this 40 something mother of 3 started smoking.  And she continues to smoke because she now enjoys it.  Like those grizzled actors in Hollywood movies.  There’s nothing like lighting up after a stressful work shift.  Even though today she is bombarded with warnings of what smoking will do to her health.  Despite anti-smoking legislation.  And the high taxes placed on cigarettes.  She still smokes.  Because she started smoking young to be cool and grown-up.  And now that she is a smoker her government attacks her with high taxes.  And legislation that ostracizes her like a leper.  Measures now coming to India (see Smoking bans, tax could save 9 million Indians: study by AFP posted 7/10/2013 on France 24).

Banning smoking in the workplace and levying a tobacco tax could prevent more than nine million deaths from cardiovascular disease in India over the next decade, according to a US study…

They found that smoke-free laws and increased tobacco taxes were the single two most effective measures, according to the study in PLoS Medicine on Tuesday.

These two measures alone would reduce heart attack deaths by six million and stroke deaths by 3.7 million, for a total of 9.7 million, over the next decade, the paper said.

The study compared five different tobacco control measures: smoke-free legislation, tobacco taxation, provision of brief cessation advice by health care providers, mass media campaigns, and advertising bans.

Interestingly, one measure is conspicuous by its absence.  This (see Delay on plain cigarette pack decision ‘sad day for child health’ by Sarah Boseley and Andrew Sparrow posted 7/12/2013 on The Guardian).

Lives will be lost as a result of the government’s decision to kick the notion of plain packaging for cigarettes into the long grass, say scientists and campaigners who accuse ministers of bowing to tobacco industry lobbying…

More than 200,000 young people under 16 start smoking every year. With advertising banned, cigarette packets are the only vehicle that companies are able to use to recruit children to the habit. The review said unadorned packs were less attractive to young people, improved the effectiveness of health warnings and reduced the numbers who mistakenly believed that some brands were safer than others.

Kids don’t start smoking because of pretty cigarette packages.  Or cigarette ads.  There are a lot of ads for kids to eat their vegetables yet many kids still resist those ads and refuse to eat their vegetables.  This has got to be the most asinine measure to get kids to stop smoking.  For if they really want to see who is at fault for getting kids to start smoking all they need to do is look into a mirror.

Liberal policies that attack traditional values and the traditional family have far more to do with kids starting smoking than Big Tobacco.  We’re giving high school kids free birth control.  Access to abortion.  And the morning-after pill.  Traditional values are ridiculed on television and in the movies.  Telling these kids that they’re not kids but grownups.  Who can make responsible decisions for themselves.  So they do.  They choose to be sexually active.  And we say we must respect their decision and not try to instill our morals on them.  Yet when they decide to start smoking we say that is wrong and blame Big Tobacco.  So much for our ‘grown-up’ children making responsible decisions.

And we’re never allowed to complain about the non-traditional behavior on television and in the movies.  Where getting stoned and having casual and consequence-free sex is now the norm.  And okay.  Our kids are seeing this.  As well as these people smoking.  They see this and want to imitate it.  Because if everyone is doing it just can’t be that bad.

If you really want to get kids NOT to start smoking then we need their heroes to stop influencing them into smoking.  We need them to be positive role models.  Not the ‘rebel against everything your parents and teachers tell you to do’ people that they are.  The bad boys.  And the naughty girls.  Who practice their art for the kids of the world to see.  And when life imitates art these stars say, “Don’t look at me.  Where are these kids’ parents?”

Not only does government endorse this behavior they facilitate it.  The liberal side of government.  The cool side of government.  Who want these kids to see how cool they are by not being like their parents or their teachers.  So they will vote for them.  And not those stuffy conservatives who don’t want them to have any fun.  Because they won’t vote for them once they wise up with some real education and real-world experience.  So they sacrifice our kids on the altar of politics.  By encouraging all kinds of bad behavior.  Like smoking.  Which they then blame on pretty cigarette packaging.  And not the societal decay they created.

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Taking Guns away from the People Least Likely to use them will not reduce Gun Violence

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 5th, 2013

Week in Review

There’s a lot of talk about some kind of national gun control after Newtown.  Anything to take guns out of the hands of people.  Even the most law-abiding among us who have guns in their homes for self-defense.  The least likely among us to use that gun in a gun crime.  So you imagine they are going to get even tougher on those who may be more likely to use a gun in a gun crime (see A Question for Gun Control Liberals by David Frum 1/2/2013 on The Daily Beast).

How can you support gun control and oppose stop-and-frisk? Seriously, how otherwise do you imagine that get-tough rules on illegal handguns would ever be enforced?

Or not.

Apparently the safest place to hide a handgun is under your coat while walking the streets.  It may be profiling.  But if you’re in an area known for gun violence where people illegally carry handguns and sometimes use them in street altercations resulting in innocent bystanders getting shot then that intrusion on personal liberty may do more to protect people from gun violence than taking guns away from the homes of law-abiding citizens.

If we take guns away from people who aren’t using in gun crimes but do nothing to take them away from people carrying them illegally we unarm the good guys while leaving the bad guys armed.  It may stop someone from mass killing people in a theater with a gun.  But they may just find some other way to commit mass murder.  While those with illegal handguns will continue to fire their weapons indiscriminately in places like the south side of Chicago.  A place with some of the most restrictive gun laws.  And some of the worse gun violence.  But since a lot of it is black-on-black crime in a Democrat-controlled city the Left doesn’t like to talk about it.  So they don’t.  And instead propose legislation that won’t address the true problem.  Societal decay.

You can see it on television.  You can see it in the movies.  You can hear it in the music.  You can see or hear something that was shocking and scandalous in the Eighties and kids will scratch their head today and ask why?  And then go back to their videogame in the basement where they will kill people indiscriminately while snacking on a bag of Cheetos.  And washing those cheesy snacks down with some ice cold Mountain Dew.  When kids in the Eighties went to the arcade with other kids and tried to get a frog across a busy street.  Or tried to get an Italian plumber to hop over things a gorilla threw at him to save a damsel in distress.  While chowing down pizza slices.  And drinking ice cold Mountain Dew.  With their in-the-flesh friends.

Kids were still innocent in the Eighties.  Today television, movies, music and videogames have desensitized them to some of the most graphic violence.  And our electronic world has turned them away from human interaction.  Creating a lack of empathy for real people as their world consists of impersonal videogames and social media.  Throw in a breakdown of the family and a turning away from God and religion and it gets worse.  In short, societal decay.  Which is a far greater problem than guns in the home of law-abiding citizens.

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VCR, VHS Video Tape , Video Store, DVD, DVDs by Mail, Video On Demand, Live-Streaming and Blockbuster

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 11th, 2012

History 101

The VCR changed the way Families enjoyed Movie Night

The video cassette recorder (VCR) changed the way we watched movies.  Well, some of us.  For the first VCRs were really expensive.  The first ones costing as much as a car.  But by the Eighties the price fell to a few thousand dollars and within the price range of those who really wanted one.  And buy them we did.  Recording everything we wanted on television.  Many of us old enough to have lived during the Eighties no doubt have a box of video tapes we push around occasionally.  Having long forgotten what is on those tapes.  Yet we still push that box around.  Sure that there must be something good on at least one of those tapes.

Recording things off the television was one thing.  But watching movies was another.  For it was expensive to take the family to the movie theater.  Especially if you had three kids or more.  Twenty bucks for tickets.  Another twenty for popcorn, candy and drinks.  A night at the movies could cost a family $40 or more.  If you went to the movies once a week that could add up to nearly a car payment.  Which made taking the family out to the movies a very expensive endeavor.  If there was only another way for the family to enjoy movie night.

And then it happened.  They started releasing movies on video tape.  The same movies that had played in the theaters.  They weren’t cheap.  The first movies cost as much as $80 or more.  But once you paid that $80 you could watch that movie as often as you wanted.  With as many people as you wanted.  And eat as much popcorn, candy and drinks you wanted.  Even adult beverages without the worry of having to drive home.  Yes, the VCR changed the way some of us watched movies.  Those who could afford to pay $80 or more for a movie on video tape.  But there was another option for those less financially endowed.  The video store.

To Help Augment their Income Video Stores started to sell Popcorn, Candy and Drinks

Some of the first video stores required an annual membership fee.  Which wasn’t cheap.  As well as a rental fee for the movies you rented.  Did these stores rake in the money because they were so greedy?  Not really.  Remember that in those early days these stores were paying $80 for their videos.  If they had 3 copies (on average) of each that’s $240 a title.  If they had 300 hundred titles in their store that came to $72,000 in video tapes.  Anyone who has ever rented video tapes knows that they weren’t always the best of quality.  When you place a video tape into a VCR and press play a magnetic head presses against the tape.  This constant pressure and friction wears the tape out over time.

So after spending some $72,000 to stock their store they probably had to replace at least one of each title for 20% of their stock each year.  Adding another $4,800 in costs.  As well as buying some new titles with every new release.  Five copies of two new releases a month would add another $9,600 a year.  So after spending some $72,000 to stock the store they probably spent another $15,000 a year on additional video tape purchases.  Add in rent, utilities, interest on their debt, insurance, a paycheck for the owner and an employee or two that little video store could cost up to $250,000 a year to operate.  All of which they had to recover from rental fees and membership fees.  And the occasional rewind fee for those who forgot to be kind and rewind.

In time those video tape prices came down.  Allowing video stores to drop their membership fees.  They may not have liked losing that large source of income.  But it was either that or see their customers go to the stores without the membership fees.  To help augment their income video stores started to sell popcorn, candy and drinks.  Just like the theaters.  For what is a movie without popcorn, candy and drinks?  Instead of movies these stores now rented a family night together.  A one-stop shop to rent some competitively priced videos.  And to load up with some not so competitively priced snacks.  The snacks may have been a little on the pricy side.  But they were convenient.  Allowing family night to begin sooner without having to make another stop to buy some groceries.

DVDs by Mail, Live-Streaming Movies and Video On Demand put the Familiar Video Store out of Business

The VHS video tape dominated the entertainment market until the DVD came along.  A small flat disc.  Much simpler.  With no moving parts.  And you never had to rewind a DVD.  Putting the video tape rewind machine manufacturers out of business.  They could manufacture DVDs so inexpensively that they changed the model for home entertainment.  Going from renting to purchasing.  Video stores stocked DVDs to rent.  But as the DVD price fell further it was difficult to rent them.  For if someone could buy a new release for about $15 you really couldn’t charge much to rent it.  Making it difficult for the video stores to stay in business.  They could sell DVDs instead of renting them.  But it was the big box retailers that had the best prices on DVDs.

Because the DVD was so small and light there was something else you could do with it.  You could mail it.  So instead of going to a video store only to see the movie that you wanted to rent was out of stock you simply went online.  And rented the movie you wanted and some distribution warehouse mailed one of their many copies to you.  Some companies let you keep the movie as long as you wanted without any late fees.  Forever eliminating those late night drives to the video store before midnight in your pajamas to drop the video in a drop box before that late fee kicked in.  The DVD is so convenient to handle that they can even put them into vending machines at your grocery store.

With the ability to see almost any movie you wanted to see without having to go to a video store made it difficult for the video stores to remain in business.  For they were trying to compete with other businesses that didn’t have to pay rent, utilities, interest on their debt, insurance, a paycheck for the owner and an employee or two.  While their costs went up the prevailing market price to watch a movie in the home fell.  Then came movies on demand from cable providers.  And live-streaming on the Internet.  Which didn’t even need a distribution warehouse or a massive inventory of DVDs.  Or warehouse employees.  Movies just sat on a server connected to the Internet.  Which is why it is difficult to walk into a Blockbuster video store these days.  (Blockbuster basically invented the big box video store.)  But you’ll be able to rent a DVD by mail, live-stream a movie online or watch a video on demand from Blockbuster.  The new business model allowing them to remain in business at the prevailing market price to watch a movie in the home.  Unlike the old model based on brick and mortar stores that led to their bankruptcy.

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