The Murder Game


There is a Premier League of teams in the Murder Game. In this top division we have, at the start of the season: Big Tobacco; Big Pharmaceutical; The World Health Organisation; Team FDA and The British Medical Association. There is one more team who look as if they might finish the season in the top tier, and this is Team Media. Below this group we have the smaller teams all jostling for a higher place. Amongst this group are: Cancer Research (Nicknamed, The Spongers); Team NICE; Team University; Team MHRA; Team ASH (Who sometimes seem to be relegation candidates) and Team Tobacco Control. The supporters of the teams in the Murder Game are known as ANTZ. (Anti Nicotine & Tobacco Nazis who are so blinded by their fanaticism, they fail to see how they are as much victims in the game as the cigarette smokers)


The object of the game is simple – To get as many people as possible to smoke cigarettes, in order to generate profit. There is however a subtle twist. Bonus points are awarded to those teams who succeed in giving the impression that they are against getting people to smoke cigarettes. Other points are awarded for the degree of excitement which they can create amongst the ANTZ.  The bonus points can then be converted into large cash pay-outs, to the teams, or to individuals within the team. The whole game is controlled by National Governments who charge a massive levy in order to secure the continuance of the game. Oh! There is one more team who have popped up, seemingly from nowhere, who are bumping along at the bottom of the division, and this is Team E Cigarette. They do not however play the game the way it should be played, seemingly having a different agenda which is alien to the rules. The National Governments are taking steps to exclude them from the Murder Game. In the meantime they must be tolerated.


A second twist is necessary for the success of the game. Bonus points (and the cash they generate) may only be awarded by teams Tobacco and Pharmaceutical.


There is one more oddity which needs explanation and that is in every individual match it is always Team Big Tobacco versus one of the others, whereas Team Big Pharmaceutical very rarely takes a direct part in the game, but, still remains one of the two main contestants.


Teams Big Tobacco & Big Pharmaceutical.



No analysis of either of these two teams is possible without looking at them together. They are, and always have been, the two top teams in the league. The National Governments who control the game and profit from it, have set the rules in such a way as no one can beat them. It is however in the game’s interest that continuous excitement is generated. In order to achieve this, the two teams have been made to appear to be ferocious competitors – diametrically opposed: Nothing could be further from the truth. The whole game is based on this deception.


The culture of cigarette smoking and the tobacco industry go back a great deal longer than the Murder Game itself. The Murder Game has its beginnings with the realisation of the harm smoking creates and the entry of the Pharmaceutical Industry into NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) products. But also keep in mind, as the game is explained, that the object of the game is profit by generating, hurting and killing as many smokers as possible. The longer and more lingering the death, the more profit is in it for both teams – and for the controlling body.


I am not sure if the game was created deliberately or if just evolved, however, the ‘modern’ game is such that, as mentioned, the two main players have set out to be seen as opposed to each other as possible. In actual fact they both simply play different sides of the whole game, and to each other’s mutual benefit. It works like this, Team Tobacco make a product that ‘hooks’ the smoker and Team Pharmaceutical makes products that are supposed to ‘unhook’ the smoker, but rarely do. The result is that Team Tobacco profit when they entice a new customer. The desire to quit is then encouraged by Team Pharmaceutical and the supporting minor teams. By producing an ineffective product, a fortune is spent in this attempt which is then aborted and the smoker is whisked back to cigarettes. But Team Pharmaceutical, again supported by nearly all of the other teams, is able to maintain pressure on the smoker to quit, so he tries again. All of this time, the ANTZ who fill the stadium roar their encouragement. But the poor smoker is doomed to fail and is pulled back into the habit where he stands, shame faced, accompanied, this time, by howls of derision from the ANTZ. But the pressure is still there and the crowd wait in anticipation for the smoker’s inevitable return. More often than not, even as the smoker’s resolve hardens, his physical condition deteriorates. He is dying and at this point team Pharmaceutical make a final massive profit for the medical treatment for the dying smoker. Team Tobacco, on the other hand, are not too worried about the loss of this individual as there seems to be a continuous supply. So, Team Big Tobacco produces the cigarettes which hurt and kill the smoker, Team Big Pharmaceutical produce the ‘cure’ which, of course, must not work.


The Rest of the Story (Sorry Michael)


The other teams all play a similar game. They work on the principle that if enough excitement can be generated through hatred of Team Big Tobacco, then Team Big Pharmaceutical will reward them handsomely. It is a difficult road to follow. If they make too good a job of it, then Team Big Tobacco will lose new smokers. The job is therefore to excite the crowd. To encourage the smokers to try NRT in a failed attempt to quit without discouraging the creation of new smokers. There is another sport which works in a similar fashion and that is World Wrestling. In this game the contestants pose and swagger, they grapple and throw each other around in a most violent fashion while the audience scream their approval or sit glued to the events taking place on the television screen. But these are all carefully rehearsed moves, designed to avoid the ‘contestants’ from being hurt. So how does this work with the Murder Games? How about I describe to you a few of the basic moves?

The most used move in the game is the ‘Terror Tornado.’ This move does not require any great skill to execute but the results can be dramatic. It is used by nearly all of the teams at regular intervals and is the staple manoeuvre in any match.  The ANTZ love this move and, when used, will rise in their seats, roaring their approval and yelling their encouragement at the poor smokers down in the arena. When properly executed, some of the smokers, in fear, will nearly always gravitate away from Team Big Tobacco. More often than not the smokers will reach out to the other team and accept the NRT being offered. The noise in the stadium reaches fever pitch at this point with the ANTZ, screaming and shouting; jumping up and down; setting off flares and waving their banners. They know what is coming!


At this point I should explain that down in the arena, the smokers are attached to Team Big Tobacco by large rubber bands – these have been fashioned out of tobacco leaf and a myriad of chemicals bonded by burning. They are so light the smoker is hardly aware of them but as he moves away from Team Big Tobacco they grow stronger and stronger. The other team offer NRT which they claim has the power to break this bond, and driven by fear the smokers, desperate to rid themselves of this fatal attachment, one by one, attempt to reach the other team and get their NRT – to gain their freedom.


Back to the game… the smoker has reached the other team. They give him his NRT. This counts as a win, and the other team, at this point, is given its reward. But the play is not finished


The ANTZ hush and a deathly silence settles down over the arena. Everyone waits! Silence! The smoker struggles against the pull of the band, waiting for the magical effect of the NRT to take place.

Everyone waits – silence. The smoker waits struggling against the pull of the band, growing weaker and weaker. The NRT still does not take effect. The smoker reaches out to the other team begging for help, pleading, demanding to know why the band is still pulling him – he does not want to die. The other team offer him advice and counselling and this has a temporary effect of strengthening his resolve, but still, he grows weaker – then, whoosh! He is pulled backwards, flying through the air straight into the Arms of Team Big Tobacco, who at this point, collect their reward, and the ANTZ groan and cry crocodile tears in the full knowledge that the act will soon be played out, and played out over and over again.


In an attempt to increase public participation and interest in the Murder Game, the Governing Body created a set of new rules. In actual fact these were instigated by the teams themselves. These new rules were the bans on smoking in public and enclosed spaces. The driving force behind the bans was a variation on the theme of the Terror Tornado. The effect of the ban was to increase awareness of the ‘dangers’ of passive smoking; to increase public participation in the Murder Game. Now everyone would be involved not just the teams, the smokers and the ANTZ – everyone, even children. It would serve to swell the number of ANTZ and the coffers of the Governing Body and the teams. Everyone, everyone loved the idea. Most of the smokers who had been so driven into feelings of guilt and shame, they felt it either wrong or futile to resist: And so the ban.


The net results of the imposition of these new rules were quite remarkable.


It justified the bullying of the ANTZ. They were doing ‘good.’ They were helping in the battle to roll back the scourge of the smoker. But instead of the air being blue with cigarette smoke, in reality, it became noxious, thick with the poisons of bitter indignation. Initially, there were outrageous claims of the number of lives the ban had saved. These have since died away as it became more and more obvious that something was wrong. But the most remarkable thing about the rule changes was the degree to which they worked. You see, they were not designed to save the lives of the poor passive smoker, the innocent children or the defenceless waiter in the foggy bar. They were never meant to be a health measure. These were the justifications not the reason.


The reason was to make money for Team Big Pharmaceutical. The reason was to promote the Murder Game and raise the stakes, taking the whole thing to a completely new level where even those ‘normal’ people outside the game would feel that they were stakeholders. And this is exactly what happened. Oh! A small detail. This was revenge.


Now keep in mind that the cardinal rule of the game is deception. We were told that this would not just save non-smokers from the effects of passive smoking but that it would save lives; that it would drive people away from smoking. But that would be counterproductive to the objectives of the game which requires a continuum of smokers. The reality was that the numbers of active smokers maintained much the same drift downwards as it had for a generation or two – nothing substantial, but against this, the numbers of smokers trying to quit showed a massive increase. There was a frenzy of anti-smoking activity and sales of NRT products literally hit the ceiling. Just before the ban, and at the same time as the publicity about the ban, sales for NRT shot up – but the number of active smokers simply continued in an insignificant, gentle decline, and in fact, recently, even this has ground to a halt.


Another remarkable outcome of the smoking ban, I think, was the discovery that it actually encouraged new, young smokers. It makes sense when you consider that one of the main reasons for young people taking up cigarette smoking is the ‘excitement’ factor: the mystery. This is, perhaps, the reason behind this manoeuvre being known as, ‘The Dummy & Swerve.’  


The secret of The Dummy & Swerve is the fact that it nearly always goes unnoticed – even ANTZ are unaware of when it is being practiced. The Dummy & Swerve is now incorporated into other moves. When completed, it remains unidentified. It is an important factor in the duplicitous nature of the Murder Game. So, with the smoking ban came the realisation that one thing could be made to look like its opposite.


The Dummy & Swerve is a large part of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) being ‘negotiated’ at the EU and is also identifiable in the deliberations of the FDA in the US. Team Big Pharmaceutical and the others have placed a complex series of conditions before the Governing Body. These are ostensibly to cripple Team Big Tobacco. Nothing could be further from the truth – it is the Dummy & Swerve. These teams already know that the measures will be ineffective, and so does team Big Tobacco. It is all Part of the Murder Game. Now, all team Big Tobacco has to do is wail and moan about the ‘hardships’ being place on it. The ANTZ cheer and shout, joyous at the thought of the misery team Big Tobacco is suffering. Team Big Pharmaceutical and the others parade their strategy as the final step to defeat team Big Tobacco. Team Big Tobacco waits until just the right moment before orchestrating, before crying out in a loud voice, “Do anything, please, but for God’s sake, do not throw me into the briar patch.” This, of course, is exactly what team Big Tobacco wants… but the real story now Dummies & Swerves away from the folk tale in that Brer Fox  is fully aware that Brer Rabbit will escape if he throws him into the briar patch, and Brer fox wants this just as much as Brer Rabbit.  


A New Player in the Game


Enter team Vape: Team Vape is made up of two types of player, E- Cigarette, and, Personal Vaporiser. It is important at this stage of the description to distinguish between the two. (If you are ANTZ, and by some remote chance you have read this far, you can skip the next part, because if you have not learned it by now, you never will.) The E-cigarette is a first generation vaporiser. They are commonly sold in supermarkets and are used by first time buyers. The Personal Vaporisers are second and third generation devices. They are more sophisticated and come in a wider variety of designs with third generation devices having the ability to allow the user to set the voltage and / or wattage of the device. Some will even measure resistance and may include a puff counter. There is really nothing complicated about them, particularly the e-cigarette which has two parts, the battery and the cartomiser. Just as an aside, Independent Television broadcast an appalling programme about e cigarettes. They set themselves up as judge and jury but could not even identify the two sections of the e cigarette correctly. This though typifies the general state of knowledge with regard to electronic vaporisers.


This new team has taken the game by storm.


They do not play to the rules, or rather, they do… well…. Yes? … No? I will try to explain.


The stated objective of the Murder Game is to prevent people from smoking cigarettes. The actual objective of the Murder Game is, in the case of the big two, to make profit, and in the case of the other teams, to profit and to maintain the status quo with regard to their material positions and with regard to their reputations and high standing in society.  Being upstanding, respectable and influential members of our society requires a great deal of skill in lying, cheating and backstabbing.


Team Vape is playing to achieve the stated objective.


The first round.


The ANTZ fill the arena. They are still. They are puzzled. There are three teams on the field. Team Big Tobacco look quizzically across to Team BMA who are their opponents for the day but only receive a shrug in response. The referee blows his whistle. The game is on.


Team BMA launch straight into an all-out attack using the Terror Tornado. Large screens facing the smokers are filled with horrible, flashing images of disease and death, of ill and dying smokers – grey and withered. The loudspeakers blast out the cries of fatherless children and the wailing of widows. Team BMA stand at the far end of the arena calling out above the noise, encouraging the smokers to try to come over and get their NRT. Some of the smokers set off, struggling against the pull of the bands connecting them to Team Big Tobacco. Team Big Tobacco stands, absolutely confident about the outcome of the game. Most of the smokers continue to struggle towards Team BMA, but one or two pause. Just to the side, Team Vape has moved much closer than Team BMA to the struggling would be quitters, and what is that they are holding out? The smokers reach Team Vape and accept their first electronic cigarette and puff. They smile. The band holding them to Team Tobacco dissolves in an instant and they are free. The other smokers who make it to Team BMA accept their NRT, struggle against the band holding them to Team Big Tobacco, weaken and are whisked upwards and backwards, back to where they started.


But this time there are no howls of derision, just a stunned silence from the ANTZ. They have been watching the efforts of team VAPE and understand the significance of what they have just witnessed. Slowly the silence becomes a murmur; the murmur swells and grows into an angry roaring of outrage and indignation. They have been cheated and already they can see that this means the end of the Murder Game.


Round Two


Team Big Tobacco have the entered the arena with their cohort of smokers. The team are jaunty and confident looking. At the other end, Team Big Pharmaceutical has decided to play personally. Not only that, every other team in the games is there: teams, CRUK, BMA, WHO, FDA, MHRA Team Media, Team NICE: All of them. Before them, stands a huge pile of NRT products – some of which have never been seen before.


Team Vape enter the arena, and, as before, stand closer to Team big Tobacco than the others.


The referee blows his whistle. Team Big Tobacco does not just stand motionless as they usually do. Instead, some of them whip off their strips and change into the same colours as Team Vape. They move over and mingle with Team Vape so it is difficult to see which team is which, and in their hands, they hold… electronic cigarettes.


The other teams, the ANTZ and even the Governing Body up in the Directors boxes stand and scream with rage. They call “foul.” It is too late, the game has started.


The game is still in progress, even as I write this and what the outcome will be, no one really knows. There are two possibilities. (1) The Governing Body will regulate all e cigarettes out of existence except the first generation devices being distributed by tobacco. Tobacco will eventually control the market. When they have achieved this, depending on the profitability of the e cigarette, they will continue to make them or, reduce their effectiveness and drive the e cigarette user back to tobacco cigarettes. In this instance the Murder Game is played out as before. No one loses except the smoker. (2)   E cigarettes will continue to thrive. Smoking will become a thing of the past and the Murder games will be over.