Monday, October 19, 2009
For a life without tobacco; for an EU full of tobacco producers
This is a theme we've looked at in the past, but just to remind readers of the absurdity of the situation we shall return to it. The European Commission has just launched "a new and innovative animated web series called Helpisodes" as part of its €72 million 'HELP - For a life without tobacco' campaign.
The Commission's press release explains that, "A total of 12 Helpisodes have been created. Each episode is one and half minutes long with the exception of the `pilot' which introduces the main characters (Helpers) and how they came to be together and were transformed into anti- smoking super heroes...The aim of these absurd and, above all, humorous Helpisodes is to communicate with young people in a language they understand and appreciate".
This is all a bit weird and over-the-top - like so many other Commission initiatives aimed at the younger generation (see the previous post for another example). But we're in no position to pass judgement on whether or not it works (it's no doubt a worthy cause). But is this really a job for the European Commission?
Remember, this is the same institution that - with the help of the farming lobby, the European Parliament and several member states - spent €293 million in 2008 to subsidise tobacco producers in the EU.
In other words: the European Commission spends €365 million on various tobacco programmes. €72 million of this sum is aimed at fighting tobacco while €293 million of it goes to promoting tobacco. To add to the mix, the EU has introduced tough regulations on cigarette advertising, including the “smoking kills” warning labels on cigarette packets. And in the latest twist, the Commission is now calling for an EU-wide ban on smoking in public places by 2012.
No wonder people are confused as to what the EU is all about...