No Smoking

A Cigarette In My Eye

A new cigarette product called "Mirage" claims to leave less of a smoke smell when smoked in an enclosed area. As a non-smoker, I'll say I definitely don't want anyone masking their second-hand smoke because it's most certainly not doing me a favour... and that name just makes it sound so consciously sneaky on the smoker's part. (What's the target market exactly - smoking in bars and clubs, parents smoking in the car with kids, teenagers smoking in their bedrooms?)

But, also as a non-smoker, I typically wouldn't be hearing about new cigarette products at all. Except in this case, after a decade-long voluntary ban on advertising in mass-market publications, full-page ads for these cigarettes have been appearing across the country - including in a certain local entertainment weekly.

This is what I've seen, although the Ottawa Citizen tells me Time published a full-page ad in their Canadian edition, along with a number of unnamed others. I'm not a reader of Time magazine, so I wouldn't know.

I am, however, a reader of Eye. Or rather, I was. And speaking not necessarily as a writer here but as a reader there, I've lost an immeasurable amount of respect for Eye for carrying this advertisement, not only because it's a tobacco ad but because it seems to be deliberately encouraging people to expose others to more second-hand smoke.

The pack shown in the ad even has a "Children See, Children Do" warning on it that depicts a woman smoking next to a child in what starts to look like an enclosed room, in the context of the ad.

I'm really surprised, Eye. I know sometimes the ads can get pretty freaky towards the back pages, but tobacco? That's blood money to me, and I feel morally obligated to officially and actually revoke my set of eyeballs from your advertising numbers for as long as this sort of thing is considered acceptable content.

I'm not alone on being displeased with this. Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada wants Health Canada to pull the ads on the basis that they contravene the requirement to not be "likely to create an erroneous impression about the characteristics, health effects or health hazards." They're also asking that the Japanese-backed, Mississauga-based company be investigated and prosecuted over it.

I hadn't realized that the only reason we were free of these sorts of ads in Canada was because tobacco and media companies felt like it. I not only agree that the tobacco company should be investigated over this, but also that there ought to be a solid ban on cigarette advertisements.

The difference between Canada and the States when it comes to tobacco advertising is very readily apparent, and I think our lack of such ads has been a breath of fresh air that I'd rather not see relinquished to second-hand smoke.

Photo: no smoking by blogTO Flickr Pool contributor on-tol-o-gy.

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