Gimme a pack of unfiltered kingsize - oh, and some astroturf

The Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Association has had enough. Apparently, adult smokers aren't organized enough to present a united front against government over-regulation and those darn healthy do-gooders. In response, they've created, a web site and smoker's association to prompt interest and lobbying on smoker's rights. Will the effort have any impact?

    "Positions will only emerge if adults who smoke use this platform to voice their issues," said [the VP} of Corporate Affairs at Imperial Tobacco Canada. "We cannot predict what issues or positions will emerge if this undertaking is successful. ... Adult smokers will have to be the judge about whether or not this will work," he said. "They are intelligent enough to judge for themselves whether or not to participate in this platform."

Of course, smokers are free to associate and lobby for their rights, but the tobacco companies seem to be concerned that their customers just aren't seized with the issue. Maybe all the three pack-a-day guys are just having trouble building up a head of steam for the tough slog of lobbying against well-organized anti-smoking groups.

I guess the tobacco PR teams think they need to inject a breath of fresh air into the debate. It's funny though, that all the "smokers" they feature in the slide show on their splash page have crow's feet around their eyes and are distinctly aged.

Oh - and that one of the images in the slide show is clearly identified as from Stockbyte - and it's not any of these pictures. (There's a standard disclaimer at the bottom of the page. They couldn't find smokers around the office, the PR firm or at the building entrance to pose for three or four photos?)