Over at Righteous Central, aka the British Medical Journal’s sidekick ‘Tobacco Control’, they are beside themselves with excitement.
They have discovered a new ‘policy vacuum’. This isn’t a device for hovering up dubious statements from Public Health Officials detailing the slow and lingering death suffered by a photogenic six year old four years after she accidentally patted an equally photogenic pony on the nose two years after it had been ridden by a filthy smoker. No this is far more exciting than that. This is a whole new area that they seek to exercise their control over. This could generate grants for university Public Health researchers the world over.
Tra La! I give you – YouTube! Not just YouTube either, but because YouTube is hosted on that devilish invention the Internet, they want to control the Internet as well, just in case anybody else pops up like YouTube. You can’t be too careful where the satanic nicotine is involved. Their evidence for this new leap into uncharted ‘policy vacuums’ is breathtaking.
The Internet, they say, ‘is an ideal forum for tobacco marketing, as it is largely unregulated and there is no global governing body for controlling content’…..oooh, scary! The fact that most of the tobacco companies voluntarily signed an undertaking in 2002 not to engage in direct advertising on the web doesn’t get a mention, naturally. Let’s not muddy the sound bite.
Three researchers in New Zealand quickly tapped in the names of the five major brands of cigarettes. Quelle horreurr! YouTube gave them 20 pages of clips that mentioned those evil words. ‘Quick! Grab a grant, we’re onto something here’ they cried.
163 video clips dared to say something like Marlboro in their title, particularly when they were showing a clip of the Marlboro Man…..disappointingly, some of these clips proved to be anti-smoking. Not what they hoped to find at all.
Girding their loins, and having updated their anti-smoking inoculations, for you can’t be too careful, they examined the rest. That is the 115 videos that they describe as a ‘significant presence’ on a channel which carries 120,000,000 videos – 0.00009583333% being significant in tobacco control circles.
‘One pro-smoking video had been viewed over 2million times’ they reported back excitedly. It was probably humorous, something quite outside their life experience. Worse:
The four most prominent themes of the videos were celebrity/movies, sports, music and ‘archive’, the first three of which represent themes of interest to a youth audience.
No! ‘Archive’ is only of interest to the elderly is it? Who could have guessed.
Burrowing ever deeper down their rabbit hole, they found a whole 20 videos, which, in their opinion, ‘appeared’ to be professionally made! Can you imagine! A professional video maker being part of the pro-smoking lobby? Obviously they couldn’t imagine it, because their conclusion from this was that the evil tobacco companies were using YouTube to get round advertising restrictions.
The dangers of an innocent child dropping upon one of these 20 ‘apparently’ professionally made video clips amongst the other 120,000,980 on Youtube, and rushing out to buy a kilo of ‘Old Shag’ is so great that today they have brought out the following statement.
Pro-tobacco videos have a significant presence on YouTube, consistent with indirect marketing activity by tobacco companies or their proxies. Since content may be removed from YouTube if it is found to breach copyright or if it contains offensive material, there is scope for the public and health organisations to request the removal of pro-tobacco content containing copyright or offensive material. Governments should also consider implementing Framework Convention on Tobacco Control requirements on the internet, to further reduce such pro-tobacco content.
See what you have done professional video makers? You were too good, now they want to regulate the Internet. They’ll come after the bloggers next. Leg-Iron doesn’t stand a chance, far too good a writer. Must be one of the tobacco giants in disguise.