Killer P.R.

Two news items today show that tobacco industry p.r. has been left in the dust.

— Research shows that using a cell phone while driving can turn a 20-something’s reaction time into that of a 70-year-old’s. An astonishing 8 percent of drivers are on the phone at any given time. Is this a problem? No, says Joe Farren of the cell phone industry. “We don’t want people to use phones in their cars if they think it’s going to distract them (emphasis added), but there are a lot of other things that are equally or more distracting for drivers.” Joe, a lot of people leave the tavern and think they are okay to drive.

— The pharmaceutical industry discounts or gives away Viagra and other drugs. Drug dealers give away stuff also, and for the same reason – to hook people on their product. Pfizer spokeswoman Alison Lehanski says, oh no, there is a socially redeeming reason. “We’ve seen that for men with (erectile dysfunction) who are considering therapy for the first time, this program offers a reason to visit the doctor to discuss whether treatment is right for them.”

If there is a chutzpah hall of fame, we have just encountered two charter members.

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