I have smoked since I was nine years old, when I was persuaded that smoking was a sign of being a proper grown up man. By the time that I realised that smoking was really a sign of being a proper mug, I was hooked and, as yet, I have failed to beat the addiction.
As the old joke goes giving up smoking is easy - I did it seven times last week. Knowing how addictive smoking is and how difficult it is to stop, having started, I am generally supportive of any measures that encourage today's youngsters not to start the silly habit.
I have never been convinced of the value of warning notices on cigarette packages. I have smoked thousands of packs with the message smoking kills on them without batting an eyelid. If you were to ask which notice is on the pack in my pocket I would have to look at it to answer. So not very effective.
I have noticed that some packs have started to show pictures on them rather than just words. I'm sure that pictures might be a little more effective than just words.
There is one pictures, however, that I feel defeats the object. This one:
My two teenage boys have always hated the idea of smoking, but they loved this joke and begged me not to bin the pack, so that they could take it to school and show it to their mates. This puerile joke is one that appeals to young men and makes the fag packet more attractive!
The medical facts of erectile dysfunction amongst smoking men is based on studies of 50 year old smokers. Apparently 60% of long smoking 50 year olds suffer from the problem in comparison to 12% of those who have never smoked. So a message aimed at young men is based on research on men who most youngsters would consider past it anyway.
The fact is that most smokers in the age group that this picture message is aimed at could provide simple proof positive that the message is not true. And if that message can be proved to be untrue then it weakens all other messages.
An own goal by the health bods! This image and message should be withdrawn from the campaign!