Academic journal article Perspectives in Public Health

Media Maladies

Academic journal article Perspectives in Public Health

Media Maladies

Article excerpt

Civil servants and teachers in Gong 'an county in China have been ordered, by the sinisterly titled Cigarette Market Supervision Team, presumably led by Nick O'Tine (remember him?), to smoke 230,000 packets of locally made cigarettes every year in the hope of rising tax revenues. "The regulation will boost the local economy via the cigarette tax," an official told the BBC. There, in a nutshell, dear reader, is the dilemma facing public health practitioners in late Capitalist societies, on a number of levels. As we outlaw the evil weed and make pariahs of those who are willing to stand outside in order to pursue one of their few remaining pleasures, the tobacco companies will inevitably seek more radical solutions elsewhere.

While we may think that this sort of thing falls into the category of "it couldn't happen here", the idea of boosting the economy at the expense of everything else has, let's face it, become a mantra in modern Britain. Newsnight recently ran an item on a group of people who had been to check out the atrocious working conditions of those who catch and process tuna in Indonesia. A steelyeyed women representing "the supermarkets" gave them a load of guff about tight profit margins while looking as if she wanted to make one of those "we have got to live in the real world" speeches. Yes, well, madam, as someone once said, your reality is not necessarily my reality.

Elsewhere the Church of England was at it again. "Clawing greed" is everywhere they pronounced, although they were not talking about tuna but rather the endangered species that is the money grabbing MP at the heart of Westminster's "culture of abuse". Who knows where the MP expenses scandal will be up to by the time you read this in July, but the hysterical media frenzy surrounding it should be of interest to those of us concerned about public health for a couple of good reasons. …

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