Friday, September 7, 2007

Smoke and Mirrors

Philip Morris

987 Corrupt Avenue

SomeRedneckCity, NC 47748

Dear Mr. Morris,

I realize you are not a real person. You are a faceless tobacco corporation bent on hording humongous profits, even if it makes people get sick and die, and even if my Moons Over My Hammy end up tasting more like smoke than eggs.

By calling yourselves “Philip-Morris,” you sound like a human being who might actually care. Just like all these developers that call themselves pastoral names like “Plum Creek,” rather than a name that more accurately reflects their mission, such as “Earth-Raping Pirate Pillagers, LLC.”

Well, I’m on to your charade, and now you’ve gone too far. You tried to make yourself look responsible by putting public service ads on TV, encouraging parents to talk to their kids about smoking.

How dare you?

A recent University of California-San Francisco study confirmed what most mammals realized a long time ago: rebellious teenagers want to do the opposite of what their parents want. Seeing those ads will make them more likely to smoke.

It was a clever ploy, Mr. Morris. You thought a gullible public would see your ad and think you were an okay guy after all, while you laughed all the way to the bank, knowing full well the ads would actually prompt more young people to take up the habit that lines your pockets.

The same study also found that anti-tobacco ads funded by the settlement from when 38 states sued your hindquarters (remember the “Truth” campaign?) appealed to rebellious teenagers and actually succeeded in preventing many new smokers from starting up.

Whenever I hear a conservative politician talk about shrinking government and privatizing more services, as if the mighty dollar can make everything better, I think of you, Mr. Morris. You are a fantastic example of how such rhetoric is simplified and short-sighted.

If you need another, check out a new study from the same university, which found that just watching the ads for anti-smoking products like Nicorette can help you quit smoking, even if you never actually use the product.

Naturally, the corporations that make Nicorette and similar products are recognizing the valuable public service contributions made by their ads, and have boosted their advertising budgets.

Ha! You are so naïve, Mr. Morris. Actually, these companies, according to a report on National Public Radio, would rather reduce their advertising, which has led some people to suggest the government ought to subsidize it so the public health benefits can continue.

And then there’s the whole DirigoChoice fiasco. You probably aren’t familiar with our situation up here in Maine, Mr. Morris, but many of our citizens lack health insurance. DirigoChoice was our state’s effort to give these people a hand.

We hired Anthem to take care of the details. Well, the Portland Press Herald says Anthem has dropped our contract because they aren’t making enough money off us.

Did you catch that? They were making money off Maine taxpayers, but not an obscenely huge enough amount of money. So they’re moving on. They have bigger fish to exploit.

Anyway, I just wanted to drop you a note of thanks for providing yet another example against those who champion an unfettered free market economy. I guess you’ve performed at least one genuine public service after all.

No comments: