‘Puff Puff Pakistan’ talks about an issue very close to me.
Everyone in Pakistan has had some form of contact with smoking. Whether it be them smoking, someone in the family, friends, or in the street. In my family, my dad was a smoker when I was young, and he quit as I grew up. Later in my life, my brother picked up the habit when we were in school in Qatar, and he only recently quit. Both periods of my life where smoking has been involved in my life have not been pleasant. The memories I can recall from those times have been troublesome to say the least. Not to add my severe sinus issues and asthma, I detest, nay, hate smoking.
I have witnessed the ill effects of tobacco my whole life. The few years I spent at FAST amongst my friends who had been hooked into smoking at a young age only furthered by hate. For them, it’s not something they choose to do — its something they have to do — an obligation to be a man — to be strong. At the same time, witnessing woman smoke both in Qatar and in Pakistan as a sign of being independent and worldly made me begin to question things — how can something so dangerous be used as a signal? Are there not better options?
Only after coming into design have my eyes been opened. Sir Amir of the IVS faculty himself told us of his days working in the advertising branch of a cigarette company. He told us of the board meetings where they explicitly discussed marketing to young children — as young as 13- to peddle the image of being “edgy” and “mature” by smoking. The idea that this would then propagate through peer pressure into spreading throughout was prevalent. The same was done in the 60’s, where cigarette companies peddled visions of independence as a smoking woman.
Tobacco has had a hand-in-hand relation ship with advertising. Only in recent times is the public rising up to face these issues and recognizing these demons for what they are. Cigarettes have consequences — they are fatal. To have been sold death all these years — one cannot fathom how it has slipped through the cracks. But this only adds to more evidence that the greed of wealth and the lust for money have driven design for so long. The time has come to change.