As a member of the best government the country has had in decades, and maybe ever, Alf takes serious umbrage at the criticisms of a bloke described here as one of the world’s leading anti-smoking researchers and campaigners.
He has accused the NZ Government of hypocrisy and sabotaging its own efforts to eliminate tobacco use by 2025.
If this were so, you can be damned sure Tariana Turia would have kicked up a fuss.
This bloke has a title as long as David Shearer’s face will be after the next election, if he gets that far.
He is reported to be University of California San Francisco School of Medicine Centre for Tobacco Control Research and Education director Prof Stanton Glantz.
If you can’t read that out loud without stopping for breath, mind you, it might be that you have stuffed your lungs with too much smoking.
But forget about the length of the title.
What matters is the message, and this bloke says the Government is spending millions of dollars on anti-smoking advertising, yet it had paid millions of dollars in the form of tax breaks to producers of The Hobbit which had scenes with smoking characters.
Damned good decisions in both cases.
So what’s up?
“The Government shouldn’t be spending any taxpayer money on movies that have smoking,” he said while in Dunedin yesterday.
“It promotes cigarette smoking and sales to children. It’s a very strong stimulus. Hundreds of thousands of children worldwide could start smoking because of this film.
“The Government shouldn’t be doing that. They are effectively undoing all the good work that has … been done.
“If there is The Hobbit 2, the Government should ask Peter Jackson if there will be smoking in the movie, and if he says yes because it’s artistically necessary, then they should say it’s fiscally necessary for our public health system not to provide funding for it.”
The trouble with this proposition is that Hobbits who don’t smoke would be something other than Hobbits.
This is obvious if you know anything much about the lifestyle of Hobbits.
Check it out here.
In his writings, Tolkien depicted Hobbits as fond of an unadventurous, bucolic and simple life of farming, eating, and socializing, although capable of defending their homes courageously if the need arises. They would enjoy six meals a day, if they could get them. They were often described as enjoying simple food, though this seems to be of an Oxfordshire style, such as cake, bread, meat, potatoes, ale and tea. They claim to have invented the art of smoking pipe-weed, and according to The Hobbit and The Return of The King it can be found all over Middle-earth.
This perhaps explains why Hobbits look like people whose growth has been stunted.
But what evidence has the professor gathered on the health damage done by smoking pipe weed?
Regardless of that, to deprive Hobbits of their smoking would amount to serious and egregious bowdlerising.
Moreover, if the professor is right about our little ones being suckered into doing everything that Hobbits do, we can expect them to be demanding six meals a day.
Another thing about Hobbits.
The Hobbits of the Shire developed the custom of giving away gifts on their birthdays, instead of receiving them, although this custom was not universally followed among other Hobbit cultures or communities.
When our kiddies take up this practice, Alf might believe the Hobbits have influenced the little buggers to be tempted to try the smoking habit. Until then – forget it.