Twice the Death


It’s good to see Al Jazeera have covered the same story and made a two-minute news clip dedicated to it. The images on the clip, however, seem to follow the same unfortunate trend as that below. They start by showing some people enjoying smoking cigarettes.
Have a look and decide for yourself: which set of images make a stronger impression on you: the pictures of people smoking, or the pictures of people who have been hurt or died as a result of smoking?
After you have decided for yourself as to your impression, count the number of seconds of video time given to pictures of people shown enjoying smoking cigarettes. How many seconds of time can you count?
Now, compare that with the number of seconds spent showing images of people suffering from smoking-related illnesses.
How does the time ratio compare?

Or, for another fun-time analytical activity, try counting the number of people shown smoking in the first part of the clip, and then count the number of people included in pictures of people dealing with the consequences of smoking later? Are the numbers balanced? Why do you think so? Which set of images are given greater weight, or, more time? What might be another way we can compare the images for and against smoking?

Another completely different aspect good for comparison, or perhaps contrast, is the title given to the video story by Al Jazeera, ‘Australia bans logos on cigarette packs,’ and that given to the online news print story in New Zealand, ‘Tobacco giant takes aim at Australian government.’ The former focuses on Australia’s anti-smoking legislation, whereas the print news website article focuses on the actions of tobacco companies against the Australian government.
What do you think about these two different titles? Which one is better? How do you think these differences in wording affect readers’ perceptions of the good work of the Australian government? Will some people change their thinking or feelings about the Australian government or tobacco companies because of these titles?

 * * * * * * *

There are two points to be noticed about today’s press release in Aotearoa/ New Zealand, on smoking in Australia.

The first and most easily noticeable point is that this article seems to continue the trend of having news about the good work of the anti-tobacco legislation which features a photograph of someone smoking a cigarette. This seems counter-intuitive and simply plain wrong. Why not have a photo of someone with a smoking-related disease, like cancer, or emphysema, or chronic bronchitis?




Or, why not even a good graph or chart such as this one, showing the obvious link between numbers of cigarettes smoked, and numbers of smokers who have soon after died of smoking related diseases?

A second point brought up, again at the very end of this article, would also make for a great graph or chart. The article finishes with the lines:

“Smoking-related illnesses kill more than 15,000 Australians each year and cost the economy A$31.5 billion in health costs.  …

Australia’s tobacco market generated total revenues of A$9.98 billion ($NZ13 billion) in 2009, up from A$8.3 billion in 2008, … .”

In other words, the profit made by cigarette companies is less than 10 billion Australian dollars, but the cost to the local economy is well over 30 million Australian dollars. To put this more simply, the damage not to individual smokers, but to the whole wider Australian society and economy, is a lot more than three times the value of the benefit to the cigarette companies.

To look at this yet another way, Australian non-smokers are paying a lot of money for many smokers to die early and painfully, while a very few already wealthy company bosses get very ‘filthy rich’ indeed.

How do you feel about that?


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