When I was around 15 years of age and Brazilian Ayrton Senna was the world Formula One champion someone bought me a miniature battery operated F1 Type 72 Lotus. I've since outgrown it and have entertained thoughts of passing it on to one of my five nephews, except that there's a slight Tobaccco Products Control Amendment Act problem. Maybe I think that it's a problem due to my political correctness and my spending too much time reading government propaganda. The car is branded with a JPS advertisement. For the unitiated JPS (from Texaco) is one of the oldest cigarette brands and used to sponsor a cup competition in the old National Soccer League (predecessor to the Professional Soccer League). I'm holding on to my Lotus 72 since I don't want my nephews exposed to cigarette advertisements because I don't want them to be enticed to try a smoke which is not only dangerous on their lungs but blood, heart, throat, phallus and kidneys as well. Actually every part of their body. I'm still thinking of soliciting ads and Public Service Annoucements (THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON DRUGS) from the Department of Health before and brand the Lotus 72 before I can pass the legacy to one of sisters' boys. Children and adults shouldn't be exposed to cigarette advertising, period - especially children who might not know that cigarette companies used to advertise in magazines, newspapers and even sponsor a popular July horserace before they increased the nicotine content in filters to rush the creation of more zombies. But that's not how Minister Naledi Pandor's departmental managers see it. Actually the buck stops at her, I'll rephrase 'that's not how minister Naledi Pandor sees it'. They think children should know there's a Consulate cigarette (I'm in the dark about its availability because I haven't seen their ads lately, even before the movies at the cinema) The education managers are obsessing about a new life skills (rather sexuality education) curriculum that will teach kids about the availability of a sexual orientation called 'homosexual' while they should be removing cigarette ads from learning material or maybe then they can fill the space with Gay Pride pictures. Here's my story; Two interesting developments in the health sector have clouded my mind recently. First was the sudden illness of the minister of Health Dr Manto Shabalala-Msimang who deserves every second of health. This one interested me because I've lost my fair share of friends and family to AIDS, which used to fall under Manto's competence before Jeff Radebe temporarily relieved her. Let me make this clear; none of my dead friends and family was on AntiRetroViral drugs but African potato, beetroot and other vegetables. They opted not to go the Western route and died but treated syptoms when they came, aspirin for pain and penicillin for minor infections. My point is not that they died because they refused to be westernized (which in this context means listening to the minister) but rather that they died like all other people on ARVs, who at the end die as well. Thus, when the minister was admitted at Johannesburg General Hospital I've been monitoring her progress with interest because one reckons if African potato can take care of HIV, why can't it do half the job the doctors at General are doing on the minister. I understand that the beloved minister is so ill she had to receive blood (transfusion) and I can't help but remember how etv always wanted to know her preference when it comes to medical treatment. Manto has always had a way of dodging the question, rather opting to recommend dangerous formulas by discredited Dr Matthias Rath. One of my friends joked that Dr Rath allegedly poisoned the minister before leaving the country. I don't think there's any truth in that as apart from the fact that Manto is not well, Rath is not around, Manto is on some Western medical regimen while she's always advocated for traditional solutions for people as bedridden as lice. Journalist Marianne Thamm wrote a very inspiring article titled 'Who Killed Fana?' about former YFm deejay Fana Khaba (Khabzela) and AIDSafari author Adam Levin, which I found to be striking a chord. With that in mind, may Manto get well soon and come back to lead the department. They say in African culture they don't kick a (wo)man when he's lying down and Kasiekulture doesn't even know how to kick, let alone someone standing or lying down. UP IN SMOKE My second area of interest is in the recent Department of Health case against cigarette company British-American (not Anglo-American. No one is insinuating that like the buccaneers do, when they capture a ship they suddenly change its name, flag of origin and hoist a relevant one and continue to do the same to evade detection unti they dock, often at Mogadishu), the makers of Benson & Hedges. Right now I'm not even sure if writing 'Benson & Hedges' is a form of advertisement but I reckoned I can strike it rich if I joined the legal team of British-American in its impending battle against the government. Look, here's my case; our government likes to create an impression that it cares deeply about cigarette issues while first they don't arrest public smokers or hold companies to account. Now they want British-American to account and accept a fine for having negligently 'forgotten' a advertisement on some god-forsaken train station in the middle of nowhere (Jozi is a jungle so don't be offended). I am kinda surprised at the recklessness displayed by government when it comes to the real smoky issue. United States of America white rapper Eminem (Marshal Matthers) once claimed that he didn't need to learn very far how to use drugs because they were always under the mattress at home, belonging to Mrs Matthers. And I know you'll be surprised if I told you that in South Africa the Grade 12 history learners don't need to hit the streets to learn to smoke because it is in their prescribed history book. What am I writing about? There's a Grade 12 History book titled Looking Into The Past (written Peter Delius, Clair Dyer, Logan Naidoo, Jimmy Nisbet and Christopher Sauders). On page 351 under South African history there's an advertisement for Consulate cigarettes staring right at the learner who might even be younger than seventeen. Kasiekulture wonders how that got through the needle-in-a-haystack bureaucracy. How can a school text book carry an advertisement for cigarettes, especially targeted at under 18s? Simply, how can government prescribe a book that carries cigarette ads?. I'm dying to get answers from both the department of health and education. I'm dying to see the full page PR explanations they'll put on newspapers, hoping they'll put one on Kasiekulture too. The advert I'm referring to is in the story of the murder of Chris Hani as photocopied from Sunday Times Cape Edition on 11April 1990. Someone might argue that they photocopied it verbatim, but that's precisely the point. How can anyone be so reckless? How can the department of health allow such to pass on? How can the department of education prescribe such junk? Kasiekulture's got a suggestion, the government must quietly withdraw all the books before they make smokers out of the Grade 12 history class learners. One of my nephews who I shied away from giving my Lotus 72 is in Grade 12 and is doing History.
Here lies the rub; "3. All signs that indicate the availability of tobacco products andtheir price must contain the following messages in letters that are atleast 2cm in height and 1,5 cm in width:(a) "WE CANNOT, BY LAW, SELL TOBACCO PRODUCTS TO ANYONE UNDER THE AGEOF 16 YEARS"; this message must appear at the top of the sign and across its full width..." - this is taken verbatim from the Act, which is surprising because one did not see it on the advert selling cigarette to the Grade 12. Someone once said that in Europe, if one can of tinned fish is found to be defective, all millions of them will be recalled from the shelves, but in Africa we single out the defective one (not even the batch), replace it with another and life goes on. He said that's why Africans are backward and dying like flies. Kasiekulture challenges the government to dispute the above statement by recalling all the defective history books, slap the publishers with the same fine that awaits BA if it loses the argument and at best blacklist the clowns who published the books. And let's get the department to advertise on my Lotus 72.