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So…is there really a ban on cigarette advertising?

May 2011

From the desk of John Dicey, Worldwide Director, Allen Carr’s Easyway

OK – after my last blog which mentioned photos featuring cigarettes or smoking appearing in newspapers for no journalistic reason that I could identify I may have been prone to a little sensitivity on the subject…But, even bearing that in mind, the rest of my newspaper reading this week has left me feeling like some kind of whacko conspiracy theorist (and understand – my last blog and this blog have been based on no more than 7 days worth of reading one national newspaper per day).

Page 4 of Thursday’s edition of The Times delivered a smashing shot of the lovely Sienna Miller appearing on stage, in a play, smoking a cigarette. You’ll also notice she is joined in the montage of photos by the writer Terence Ratigan, also smoking. Cigarettes and smoking are not remotely connected to the story. Page 4 of The Times? Hmmm.

Sienna Miller smoking a cigarette

I berated myself for my apparent paranoia and convinced myself that it is only because I am a quit smoking facilitator that it seemed so strange. I turned to The Times “Summer of Speed – 12 page guide to the world’s leading races” (again – this is Thursday’s edition of The Times I am referring to).

A retro shot of the Silk Cut cigarette brand’s logo emblazoned on the Jaguar XJR-LM on page 11 had me think again.

Formula 1 cars showing cigarette advertising

Again I slapped my wrist for being so sensitive. Then I turn to page 2 & 3 (yes I read my newspaper backwards – go figure) to be confronted by no less than 3 clear images of the Marlboro cigarettes logo, one Camel cigarettes logo, and a Gauloises cigarettes logo (the Gauloises one is not shown in this cutting) in more retro pics of F1 racing cars and a weird model of the Monaco circuit (the latter featuring an advertising board trackside for Marlboro cigarettes. God bless anyone trying to quit smoking while reading their daily newspaper!

I briefly consider that maybe we should look into the cost of advertising our quit smoking books and quit smoking centers on F1 cars – I’d certainly enjoy the track days! Monaco here I come!

F1 cars show cigarette advertising

Anyway I banished these examples of my pro-smoking images paranoia to the recycling bin deciding to conceal my apparent affliction. Then I read Friday’s edition of The Times! The Arts section appears a few pages along from the kids part of the newspaper. This edition of The Arts section features a double page, color spread, as an advertising feature (a collaboration between the newspaper and Currys/PC World stores), The feature presents the results of a photography competition.

The Times in conjunction with the sponsors asked readers to “make us smile with your photographs and video from the [public] holiday on April 29th”. This was the day of the Royal Wedding, a national holiday, which spawned an epidemic of colourful street parties, beanos, BBQs, picnics, and all round feel-good fun across the country. Even an anarchist and anti-monarchist friend of mine begrudgingly considered the day full of fabulous fun and frolics.

The Times claimed “…the scale of the response [to the photography competition] had us open-mouthed”.

Meaning no disrespect to the judges but I didn’t think much of the first and second place photos. The third place photo caught my eye. The Times describes it thus “Take Barry Humbling’s image of ‘Kate Middleton’ taking a cigarette break in Soho, which won him third prize….”

The photo was displayed on a right hand page, with the neon illuminated sign bearing the legend “Lovely Sexy Girls” nattily catching ones eye! I don’t really know what to say about this photo of (apparently) a sex worker wearing a Kate Middleton mask, smoking a cigarette outside her place of work. Perhaps we should be leafleting the area with details of our corporate quit smoking service? Quite how The Times fell into accommodating a smoking image into this “fun” competition I can’t imagine. I can also imagine that Kate Middleton isn’t exactly happy to be portrayed (albeit in a fake way) as a poster girl for the cigarette industry. Maybe I should mock up a photo of her holding a copy of one of our quit smoking books?

The Times picture editor who chaired the judging panel for the competition writes “…a lovely satirical photograph; we had lots of pictures of people in Kate and William masks but somehow this one just has the edge”. Ooooooooooooookay! I am not paranoid quit smoking facilitator. I am not paranoid quit smoking facilitator. I am not……..

Smoking a cigarette