• DAY 13 Perry – Kings Cross

    Listening to: Jarvis – Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time

    Emotion: Relaxed


    >>Make a Fresh Start – Stop Smoking<<

    Watch this video and tell me why would you still want to smoke!

    I’m waiting outside Kings Cross Station for Katie. A bus passes reminding me that England goes smoke free on 1st July. Bring it on!

    We walk the short distance from the station to BUPA Wellness were I have an appointment with Dr. Peter Mace. We meet the crew in the reception area and eventually we are escorted to the good doctors’ surgery.

    I’m here to have a Carbon Monoxide breath test. I wanted to arrange to do this test before commencing the experiment but having spent the best part of three weeks contacting a great deal of doctors, professors and hospitals to no avail, I had to press on and change tact. BUPA got back to me towards the end of the first week. They didn’t view this experiment as unethical. They treated it as an interesting experiment and research project.

    Prior to my visit to see Dr. Mace I stopped smoking for twenty four hours and enjoyed a good thirty minute run around my neighbourhood the night before. The only reason I went for a run was because I had been so busy for the last few weeks I hadn’t had time to exercise. It wasn’t a requirement for the test.

    The carbon monoxide test in question involves me taking a deep breath and holding it for ten seconds. I then slowly and under great control, I breathe out into a device that resembles a breathalyser used by the police to test for alcohol levels by the side of the road.

    I blow into the apparatus and no change registers on the light meters. The doctor shows me a colour chart that indicates that my breath has normal levels of carbon monoxide in it for someone who lives in London were diesel engine vehicles are plenty.

    I immediately head outside the building and spark up an Embassy #1 cigarette. The pack indicates that these cigarettes have 10mg of carbon monoxide when smoked. (at least the factory machine that tests these claims reads 10mg, but machines can not really emulate how a person smokes).

    I smoke this cigarette a little faster than usual but this is because of the stress of having three cameras in my face. I feel light-headed and head back in to the building to have a second test. At least here, if I faint or vomit I’ll be in good hands.

    I repeat the procedure, take a deep breathe, hold it for ten seconds and then slowly breathe out into the apparatus. The light immediately changes from green to orange. This change of colour on the chart indicates a considerable increase in the levels of carbon monoxide in my blood.

    So why is this bad? Well we need oxygen to live. We take oxygen from the air we breathe and this is moved around the body in our blood to all our vital organs. Carbon monoxide masks itself as oxygen by attaching itself to the haemoglobins or oxygen carrying cells in the blood. A habitual smoker is essentially starving themselves of oxygen. This is one of the reasons why smokers find themselves short of breath, the other being the damage they do to their lungs.

    I was fortunate enough to visit Professor Gunther von Hagens Bodyworlds exhibition some years ago in the East End of London at the Truman Brewery.

    Dr. gunther von hagens

    As a part of this amazing exhibition was the display of the heart and lungs of a smoker and a non-smoker. The differences in size and colour had a big impact on me. The smokers’ lung was about a third of the size and black in colour compared to the healthy comparison. Both owners of the lungs were dead, their was no denying that but what got me thinking was the quality of life the two owners must have had would be dramatically different.

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  • Killing your customers is not generally considered a good business practise, but tobacco companies seem to excel in this field. 

    Associated health problems attributed to the smoking of cigarettes prior to the 1930’s were unknown. ‘Doctor Recommended’ and ‘Good for Digestion’ advertisements were common in the 1920’s. Then in 1932 a paper published by the American Journal of Cancer made the connection between cigarettes and cancer. 

    Many more papers were subsequently released, solidifying the health issues from cigarettes. By 1957 the Surgeon General (USA) became involved with the issues and by 1964 he had filed an official report connecting cigarettes to cancer.

    In the early 70’s a Smoking Act was passed by the US Congress, TV bans and warning labels were brought into effect. Within the space of four decades the image of cigarettes had changed. Smokers (the minority) still believe it’s their right to smoke, not the non-smokers (the majority) right to breathe clean air. On 1st July 2001 smoking will be banned in all public places in the UK following successful bans already in place in Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

    Way back in 1973 warning labels were introduced and the first ban on smoking in a public place was introduced in Arizona. California, New York State and Ireland followed suit years later. Other countries throughout the European Union are now lining up to back a ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces

    In 1984 warning labels were changed on the packet of cigarettes. Meanwhile in Canada, Brazil, Singapore and Thailand packs already contained graphic coloured images with additional health warnings. Ireland and Belgium have indicated that they will introduce some of the 42 images approved by the EU in the near future. 

                                                       Leo Bennett      Leo Burnett     

                 marlboro the original cigarette

                             ’Original’ Marlboro                       

    Philip Morris used the Leo Burnett Company in 1955 to develop a ‘minor cigarette brand with a predominately feminine image and turned it in to a big seller by using close-up photos of ruggedly handsome men’, The ‘Marlboro Man’ arguably the most successful marketing campaign ever, took the idea of smoking and linked it with the image of rebellion, freedom and personal choice. Thus, any attacks made on smokers or smoking becomes an issue of losing that freedom or the government interfering in the personal choices of the people. This changed somewhat in 1993 when passive smoking or second hand smoke was recognised as a cause of cancer. The issues of freedom to smoke and personal choice changed to one of injuring others.

                Smoking Marlboro Man

          Marlboro Man circa 1955     

    Smoking Marlboro Cowboy

          Marlboro cowboy circa 1956     

    Smoking Marlboro Cowboy 1973

    Smoking Marlboro Country

    Marlboro Country circa 1973

       Ronald Reagan in Cigarette Ad

     marlboro smoking cowboy

    marlboro rodeo

    Marlboro menthol cigarette ad

    The tobacco companies answered by employing marketing strategies for a healthier cigarette, this started in 1952 with the introduction of filters. 1.3% of cigarette sales had filters in this year but by 1956 over 25% had filters. Now almost all cigarettes sold are filtered. The next step in the elusive search for the healthy cigarette occurred in the 70’s with the introduction of the ‘Tar Wars’. Arguable the most famous brand created was ‘Marlboro Lights.’ The words Light and Medium were outlawed in 2002 in the UK. Cigarette tar and nicotine yields are measured by machines that smoke but bear little relation to the way humans smoke cigarettes. However it is widely perceived that a Light alternative is safer but there is no evidence to support this.

    The continuation of marketing ‘Marlboro Man’ and ‘Marlboro Country’ saw the emphasis shift from the product to one were a cigarette or pack of cigarettes had completely disappeared from the advertisements and now the focus was on satisfaction and taste. The whole appeal of the product is one of rebellion and freedom. Marlboro ads no longer sell a product but sell an image.

    As the Western worlds taste for cigarettes diminishes with the knowledge of cancer and the new legislation against tobacco smoking in public places and raising the age to buy from 16 to 18, the tobacco companies shift their emphasis to new and emerging markets in developing countries. Not unlike other corporations who set up sweat shops in Free Trade Zones throughout the developing world, the tobacco companies are also taking advantage of cheap labour and land and take with them a whole new set of health, environmental and social problems. Although cigarette sales in the western world have diminished the tobacco companies report bigger profits year on year, but at what cost to public health and the environment?

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