The country which believes that it can solve every problem by censoring something, Australia, is planning to ban all images of people smoking from the world wide wibble.
In a move which shows how powerful the Australian government believes it is, the Ministry of Health wants to extend its restrictions on tobacco advertising to the web.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon claims that the legislation will bring the internet into line with restrictions in other media.
Apparently she thinks that Australia runs the internet, and it will do what she tells it.However the Aussie media has thrown the spotlight on Cameron Reilly who runs popular blogs while smoking. It points out that if Roxon gets her way, Reilly will have to stop smoking his trademark cigar while talking.
Roxon’s view is that since tobacco advertising has been driven away from newspapers and television it has mushroomed online.However, it is not so much advertising that seems to bug her but the 1,000 tobacco-themed Facebook groups available to people of all ages, plus YouTube clips and Flickr galleries.
True, some of these are produced by tobacco company employees, but others are simply people who like talking about smoking.
Reilly said social networking and voluntary communities that could not be compared to advertising. He likes to set the scene for his blogs. It’s not like there are ads all over my podcasts.
Reilly told the Sydney Morning Herald that the interesting thing with online is where the line is drawn between advertising and people just talking to each other.
Mike Daube, chairman of the National Preventative Health Taskforce, which advised the government to tighten restrictions, said Parliament had intended to ban all tobacco advertising and tobacco companies would always try to subvert bans.