Tobacco. It’s unclear when Homo sapiens began using it. Maybe as far back as the time of Jesus [1, 2]. Perhaps due to this long time period, it’s remained legal – including since the mid 1950s when it was found to cause lung cancer. (Of course it’s now known to cause many other diseases.) Governments, notably Western ones, have become increasingly concerned by smoking’s adverse health effects – mainly vis-à-vis spiralling healthcare costs. In Australia at least, in recent years governments have legislated health warnings, an advertising ban, more stringent point of sale controls, and smoking bans in public places. If tobacco were a new drug today, it wouldn’t get regulatory approval for public use. Yet governments wouldn’t dare banning the stuff – for many reasons including donations to political parties by tobacco companies, cigarette excise revenue, and a political backlash from millions of tobacco addicts . (Who knows what addictive substances those perverse companies add to tobacco? I don’t.) Like all companies, tobacco companies are intent on progressive growth. So they direct lots of marketing attention to a potential new market, i.e. adolescents (and even children). And a long-term one; lasting at least until cigarettes kill them. But tobacco companies aren’t stupid. Wanting to gain access to young people yet increasingly hemmed in by governments, they’ve hit on a wondrous solution: YouTube [4, 5]. Ho hum.
2 days ago