Friday, February 03, 2006


In one of those news stories which just leaves you wondering if we're all going mad, a doctor has criticised the Arctic Monkeys. Because their album sleeve, you see, is sending out all the wrong messages:

Dr Laurence Gruer of NHS Health Scotland said the chart-topping album's cover "reinforces the idea that smoking is OK", he told the Herald newspaper.

Dr Gruer, director of public health science at NHS Health Scotland, said: "Although the band is from Sheffield, thousands of youngsters in Scotland will buy it because it is good music.

"It is the fastest-selling album in British history, but it gives out the wrong image."

He added: "With a blatant image of a guy smoking, it will be seen by many as a cool thing to do."

Good bloody lord. We're paying Doctor Gruer's wages, and as such subsidising this showboating nonsense. I've not got any figures in front of me to say how effective album sleeves are at promoting lifestyle changes, and I'm pretty prepared to bet neither has Gruer. If he's suggesting that people are so suggestible as to take up smoking because of looking at a picture of an ugly chap smoking, he might want to think about persuading someone to put a photo of a bloke eating an apple on, say, Madonna' next single - all the health problems of the world would be solved at a stroke.

Just look at the word "blatant" - now smoking is unhealthy, and it might even be a little unfashionable now. We know that. But it's people like Doctor Gruer creating a mythology about smoking like this - if you smoke in public you are blatant, it's braggardly, it's defiant - that make it seem a sexy pastime and the act of the rebel. The cover of the album didn't seem cool at all - but now the government is condemning it, suddenly it starts to become so.


Anonymous said...

"Although the band is from Sheffield, thousands of youngsters in Scotland will buy it"... er, his point being? Since when have "youngsters" only bought music locally?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Doc.
He's right dumb bastards had a good opportunity to promote healthy living and blew it.

Fucking turkeys.

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