i was asked to participate in a festival in belgrade when i found out their sponsor, a pr agency, also does work for philip morris serbia. i was appalled by this and immediately left the festival. i posted comments on their facebook page explaining my problem, these were deleted. emailed the organizers, no answer. i am sorry their tactics is hush hush rather than open discussion. i just could not see myself giving a lecture on sports and internet with a tobacco industry pr logo behind me. it is not possible.
in shock, i was inspired to write bellow text:
amongst us there are people who work for tobacco industry. they work for tobacco companies directly or indirectly (through companies etc that work for tobacco companies). they are relaxed, integrated, friendly… yet through their work they undoubtedly help mass murder.
i do not even want to argue if tobacco is the absolute worst industry in the history of humanity. numbers tell the story – tobacco industry kills more than any war, any disaster, anything that ever killed – and it kills non stop year after year, decade after decade. and it is growing.
there is less smoking in california and switzerland, but there is about hundred times more smoking everywhere else (think china!). with such a huge market in third world why would tobacco even care about first world where there is always troubles with advertising and laws?
these tobacco people are around us. they want to join our parties, they want to do sports with us, be in our photos, they want their kids to play with our kids, they want to hang out and be part of the society. it is no different than mass murderers trying to blend in.
if i talk to them as individuals i can only see them as people who have made a huge mistake in life and how they really have to work it out and change it. if i talk to them professionally i really do not want to talk, i just want to be as far away as i can. in numerous conversations with tobacco people i get same empty answers – from africa to eastern europe they all use the same lame arguments which are brought down within 5 secs of conversation. after that they get either angry or escape. they search for people who do not question and parties where no one asks or cares.
problem with this tobacco thing is that it is so covert. when someone takes a gun and shoots people it is very direct and obvious. when someone does pr or ad design for tobacco it is not obvious, but, without any doubt, the pr agent, copyrighter and designer knowingly participate in more murder than the shooter. actually they actively engage their creativity and ambition trying to figure out how to help tobacco succeed. it just is not that obvious.
they are in an office, isolated, convinced by their managers that this is great work, and rewarded financially for it. human resources at its best. tap on the shoulder, a bit of cash and kids will do anything you ask them to. in somalia they take ak 47, in new york and milano they make ads. taking ak 47 requires more guts and honesty.
people who do some of the jobs for tobacco are models, photographers, ad people, designers, it experts, pr guys, editors, event organizers, actors…
most film industry is still selling tobacco as a lot of the movies have tons of unnecessary smoking scenes that it just makes me cough.
i still feel like we should help these people, who must feel fear and regret for their work.
they are still human… i hope.
and it is never too late to change. there is always better work which does not carry this ethical burden.
compared to tobacco industry pretty much everything seems acceptable.