Saturday, 17 September 2016

A truthful image, and a sad reminder.

Japan Tobacco stepped up its campaign against plain packaging this weekend, with a new set of advertisements intended to drive Canadians to its website protesting plain packaging. (

Its full-page ad in the national edition of the Globe and Mail portrays a package of cigarettes in a way that illustrates their harmfulness far more appropriately than any ad I have seen from a cigarette company in the past. Mimicking the traditional arched display of cigarettes, the package instead shows an arched array of bullets,

Aside from that delightful image, the advertisement also has a sorry echo of collusion between the RCMP and tobacco companies. In the ad and the website, the RCMP is extensively quoted. The impression given is that the force supports the position of the industry that the federal government's policies to protect health will "hamper their work" at catching bad guys.

If so, it would not be the first time that the force has controversially co-operated with this industry.

The RCMP honour guard was regularly recruited to pose before tobacco brands at sponsored events like the Export A Skins Game, du Maurier horse jumping, tennis and women's tennis. In those days, the RCMP called endorsing tobacco sponsorship part of its  "community relations."[1] 

And let us not forget the way the RCMP did little to prevent JTI-Macdonald and other companies from participating in smuggling in the 1990s. Decades later (in 2008 and 2010), the companies acknowledged their wrongdoing), but the RCMP never 'fessed up to why it had so massively failed to get its man, why it had acted like such a patsy for the manufacturers,[2] and why it had allowed its senior officers, like assistant commissioner Rod Stamler, to retire onto the payroll of the industry.[3]

[1] Letter from RCMP commissioner JP Murray to Senator Colin Kenney, October 1995. Cited in Kenny, C. "Where there's smoke; the RCMP are smudging theri image by lending their officers to events sponsored by tobacco companies." Montreal Gazette. March 26, 1996.
[2] Moon, P. Smuggling of cigarettes grows into big business Indian masterminds making links with organized crime.
[3] Marsden, W. "Why no smuggling charges, tobacco foes ask." Montreal Gazette. Feb 8, 2001.