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Sweden: cockroach of the year
  1. David Simpson
  1. d.simpson{at}

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    We have all heard of anti-prizes awarded to highlight particularly bad behaviour by the tobacco industry or its executives—often they are in the USA and feature the word “Butt”—but the “Cockroach of the year” award was new to many when it scuttled into the limelight recently. It is something Swedish colleagues working on the Non-Smoking Generation project have devised, and for 2005, the winner was the unfortunate Professor Ragnar Rylander, who sprang to prominence due to his apparent capacity for forgetting how much he had done behind the scenes to help Philip Morris.

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    Australia: enough to start kids smoking At the 3rd Australian Tobacco Control Conference in Sydney in November, delegates were entertained by a short set from tobacco control supergroup Puff Daddy and the Rockin’ Rollies. Guitarist Stafford Sanders (ASH), drummer Paul Grogan (Cancer Council Australia), keyboarder Trish Kirby (long suffering wife of Tobacco Control editor Simon Chapman) joined Simon and two musician friends for five tobacco themed songs, including Tex Williams’ Smoke! Smoke! Smoke that cigarette. Williams (1917–1985) died of lung cancer aged just 68. Tobacco Control has been unable to confirm reports that the managements of U2, the Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen issued a joint statement, interpreted by experienced music industry watchers as indicating the groups’ deep concern: “These people say they are worried about smoking being bad for health, but they obviously care nothing about harming people’s ears.”

    The decision was made on a large youth community internet website called Lunarstorm, and around 12 000 people voted. Other, unsuccessful nominees included an executive of the advertising agency McCann-Erikson’s Swedish branch, who sits on the board of a snus manufacturer (with the appropriate sounding name Skruf); a member of a hospital board who is also on the board of Swedish Match; and a television executive who makes “docusoap” programmes featuring young people smoking and drinking, which go out in the daytime when many children watch television. Perhaps every country should have an anti-award for those who put tobacco before health. Any suggestions for titles?