Thursday, December 10, 2009

everyone's a david

Sometimes PR firms send releases to publications having nothing to do with its coverage area, which is how I wound up receiving a release titled: David vs Goliath: Tobacconists Condemn Irresponsibility of W.H.O. Report on Smoking, which was sent to my email.

It's an odd release that portrays the World Health Organization as a tool of corporations and the
International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers as a struggling group of mom and pop stores compelled to battle the unfair claims of W.H.O. The oddest part of the press release is that it says the W.H.O.'s report is full of "wild, unsupportable claims” but refuses to state what those claims are, claiming that repeating these claims would just give them more coverage. Most organizations would try and refute unsupportable claims, but the IPCPR seems to feel that saying the report is wrong is quite enough.

It fascinates me that the release positions the IPCPR as a David battling the World Health monster. And there is a curmudgeon quality to the release that does suggest it is the work of a small, rather unpolished PR firm reduced to quoting angry, unpersuasive statements from its employer like "
What would you expect from an organization that refuses to hire people who smoke?”

Yes, tobacco is under siege, but if it's a David, it's a David that was once a Goliath and has got cut down to size. The approach is similar to that of the Republicans, who are acting like a feisty little group of rebels even though they have run this country for most of the last thirty years (of course, they even acted like that when they were in power). But for me, a Goliath who has hit hard times is never a David.


  1. All you have to do is Google WHO and you will find their news release and recent report that contains the wild, unsupported claims referred to in the IPCPR release.

    Why not repeat those claims in the IPCPR release? There is a rule of thumb in debating that says never repeat the claims of your opposition, for that only gives them one more airing.

    IPCPR doesn't expect to change the ways of anti-smoking die-hards, but it does want to at least raise the point that no one should blindly accept what someone claims as being true without considering the source or motivation of the claimant.

    Is IPCPR biased? You bet. But don't for a minute believe WHO is not biased and that whatever they say is automatically true just because they say it.

    Are IPCPR members part of 'big tobacco'? No. That refers to the cigarette companies. IPCPR represents manufacturers, distributors and retailers of premium, hand-made cigars, pipes, pipe tobacco and related accoutrements. These are mom-and-pop operations, small businesses handed down from generation to generation.

    Enjoying premium cigars is like enjoying fine wine or single-malt scotch whiskey. Try one of each with your next video game!

  2. Yes, I could google the WHO's tobacco claims, but then I'm still reading the stuff IPCPR doesn't want to disseminate, thus giving it more publicity, and I haven't heard any counter arguments from IPCPR so unless I just disagree with WHO based on my own knowledge and beliefs, the IPCPR claim that WHO's claims are outlandish isn't going to sway me, because it's not any sort of argument.

    In a debate you don't have to repeat your opponent's claims, because people know what they are, but you can't refute a report just by saying, "I refute this report, so there." If you have convincing reasons for something, you need to say what they are. If I say, Obama's war plans are flawed, and I don't say which aspects I don't like or why, then you're going to ignore me unless you just happen to already agree with me. Non-specific criticism is useless and unpersuasive.