Indoctrinating the children

Indoctrinating the children

When it comes to anti-smoking campaigns and organisations one of the key mantras is “protecting the kids”, the ever-present “think of the children”. Trouble is, whenever an organisation says to policy makers “thinking of the children” it inevitably tugs on said policy makers heart-strings. Everyone wants their kids to grow up and lead good, healthy, normal lives don’t they? Let’s face it, I grew up to lead a relatively normal healthy life. I made choices along the way, some good and some not so good, it’s all part of this little thing called “growing up”.

But, in the murky world of “public health” and “tobacco control”, they have spent countless millions in taxpayer cash over the last few decades to convince bully young adults, and by ‘young adults’ I mean those between 18 and 25 years of age into stopping smoking because well, ideology.

The 84 Movement promo tweet

Enter the “next generation” of tobacco control bullies. Instead of cranky old duffers bemoaning how “kids of today” are damaging their health, or other such nonsense, organisations are now indoctrinating kids to do the bullying for them. Say hello to “The 84”.

Based in Massachusetts, “The 84” is a statewide movement of youth fighting tobacco. According to their website, the name comes from the percentage of MA youths who don’t smoke; which was 84% when the “movement” began. Now it’s apparently 89%. To make things seem a lot more “fun”, this group of youth bullies all under “The 84” banner is organised into chapters. As it stands there are approximately ~30 or so “chapters” dotted around MA (mostly surrounding Boston).

In the words of one of their “members”; “I wanted to join the 84 so people would know that um there are a lot of youth that don’t smoke and think it’s a really bad thing”. Right. As if the other “anti-smoking” orgs don’t already push that message, using kids as the weapon of choice here is a little terrifying.

Some of the comments in their “promo video” just show how much influence these anti-smoker organisations have actually had in brainwashing youth into doing their dirty work, one actually said that “joining the 84 movement was a positive thing to do”. Instead of joining an organisation that actually does things for the state that actually helps people, the kid joined a state funded bullying organisation.

Odd that other members mention how joining the 84 “opened their eyes” to how “Big Tobacco” uses ‘kids’ especially with advertising (cue showing a “disposable hookah” pen); how they “never figured Big Tobacco” was looking for people ‘my age’ or even younger. Seriously. This was said by one of their members in the promo video. While educating kids on the tactics of the tobacco industry may sound like a brilliant idea as a way to keep them away from tobacco, all this is doing is bringing tobacco and all the other “tobacco products” into their minds. I suppose that when the FDA or CDC ask the question “have you ever heard of…” to these kids, they can safely say “yes” which of course will lead to scary headlines in MA with “dramatic rise in teen exposure to tobacco products” which of course will lead to organisations getting all antsy and screaming “no more!” (oh, little gem from their video one of their “protest chants”: ‘we are the 84! Big tobacco out the door!’ - priceless!).

Sounds like a state funded version of the Hell’s Angels to me, instead of terrorising communities through violence, the ‘chapters’ go on social justice crusades instead. Terrifying.

These ‘chapters’ do weird and wonderful things like:

  • Educate their peers and adults about the tobacco industry’s marketing tactics
  • Help to create change locally and statewide to reduce the influence of tobacco in their communities
  • Survey youth and adults about their perception of the prices and availability of “other tobacco products” (of course, vaporisers are included there natch)
  • Promote social norms messaging around youth tobacco use

Wait, what? “Social norms messaging”? Probably means stuff like this:

Social ideas

Yes you read that right, an idea for the latest campaign #FightTheFlavor (come on people it’s FLAVOUR) is to “fake twerking the talk about not smoking tobacco”. Seriously. I’d bet the parents of this one are super proud of these ideas.


Mustn’t forget about other tobacco products, I mean tic-tacs? Who knew! Basically, anything that contains tobacco is bad mmkay? Anything that looks like a tobacco product (tic-tacs) is bad.

Not content with showing these products to the kids, they say things like “other tobacco products come in flavors (again with the Americanised spelling!) like grape, strawberry, etc. to mask the nasty tobacco taste” - kids love to say the word “nasty”.

It gets far worse, a lot of their “information” comes from none other than the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, or the MA Department of Public Health. Such “facts” include:

  • 25 people die each day in MA from tobacco related illnesses (not from tobacco itself, but related illnesses which as we know can be anything no matter how tenuous)
  • 50,000 non-smokers die each year due to secondhand smoke
  • $3,000+ the amount of cash a pack a day smoker will spend in a year on smokes
  • $5.5 billion is the estimated cost of smoking to the state of MA
  • $1.8 billion tax dollar spend “because of smoking”

Interestingly, they’ve completely ignored the amount of cash that the state receives courtesy of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, which is around $8 Billion. Let’s put it into a bit of perspective shall we? In 2012, Tobacco Free MA were supposed to get $254 Million in “tobacco related legal awards” along with $561 Million in tobacco taxation. Bringing the annual tally to $815 Million. Through complete stupidity, the state of MA only had $4.2 Million to spend on “cessation and prevention” programs. What was their answer then? Raise taxes on tobacco; a $1 per pack thereby increasing the state’s reliance on people smoking. Which makes “The 84” partially funded through tobacco taxation. Should I say “conflict of interest” here?

Now it’s all becoming crystal clear why these moralists are using kids to push the message out. Kids don’t get paid, so the campaigns don’t cost a huge amount of those hard earned tobacco-tax dollars. The results of these kids efforts?

  • Flavour graveyard

  • ‘Fight’ the flavour

  • ’lickerish’

  • ‘smell test’

  • More on flavours

  • ‘Flavour haters’

  • ‘flave-yard’

  • More ‘flave-yard’

  • more ‘fight’ the flavour

Thanks go to @anImaginaryEcho for snagging the screenshots, they will live on to haunt these moralists for a long time.

Amusingly, some of the tweets from the #FightTheFlavor hashtag have since been deleted. So much for “social norms” campaigning. All that the campaign ended up doing, at least on social media, was drawing the attention of some amusing parody accounts.

  • Parody crayons

  • Parody postits

  • More Parody

  • Parody textbooks

Think this tweet says it all.

Don’t you just love these nannying puritanical moralist organisations?