Posted in Business thoughts & my marketing services, Health & life style, opinion on January 18th, 2018 by John Coxon



Alcohol & Nicotine, in tobacco ,are two potentially harmful, highly addictive substances  & let’s be honest, still the drug of choice of the many, are readily available to buy over  the counter on the high street.  A predatory government, hypocritically I’d say, on the one hand leads health incentives, for example, to help people quit smoking,  yet annually increase taxation on both items, which has very little impact on sales. The Treasury takes, at present, 80% of the cost of cigarettes & the revenue from that taxation rakes in 13 billion a year for the government – the annual cost to the NHS (National Health Service ) in the treatment of smoking related disease is between £ 3 & £6 billion.

Alcohol revenue is also a nice little government earner and generates over twice as much tax revenue as it costs the country in health, policing, crime and welfare expenditure. Successive governments in all budgets  have always opted to increase the price of cigarettes by a relatively small amount annually. Duplicity & vested interest is at work here, especially with regard to  smokers, capitalising on the country’s two greatest addictions while its NHS drives an ongoing “help you quit” campaign & Police try to tackle drinking through advertising campaigns aimed at drink driving & the even bigger problem, for them , drink related violence &  anti-social behaviour.

Drinking responsibly & in moderation is relatively non- harmful but excessive drinking & alcohol dependency does immense harm to you physically , affects your family & fiends & may harm them emotionally or even physically. It may lead to physical violent assaults, domestic abuse & worse. Yet there are far fewer drink related deaths than there are from smoking. Smoking essentially has become anti-social but drinking not, although of course alcohol elated violence is an ongoing problem with a young people binge drinking at weekends culture here.

In 2015, there were 8,758 alcohol-related deaths in the UK, a small increase since 2014 (8,697) and 2013 (8,416). 65% of alcohol related deaths in 2015 were male. The 2015 age-standardised rate of 14.2 alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 people is lower than the peak level in 2008 (15.8 deaths per 100,000 people). In terms of untold harm alcohol is far worse than tobacco  & yet never in the nation’s history has there been a move to urge people to abstain from its consumption altogether unlike smoking?


Measures to discourage the latter in the last few years include a law banning the display of cigarettes ( now concealed behind cupboard sliding  doors,  packets.  This added to  a new law making it illegal to smoke in all enclosed work places in England, which came into force on 1 July 2007 as a consequence of the Health Act 2006.

Since last year , 2017 ,the law states that all cigarette packs must contain at least 20 cigarettes to make sure they are big enough for health warnings to cover 65% of the front and back, with the brand name restricted to a standard size, font and colour. (Cigarettes therefore are no longer sold in tens ) Up and coming will be a ban on menthol cigarettes by 2020. ( There is no evidence suggesting that the highly graphic health warning images on packs have had any impact on numbers of smokers )


Smoking is a leading cause of preventable death in the UK. In 2014, almost 80,000 deaths were attributable to smoking in England. Estimates from the governments of the devolved countries suggest that smoking is responsible for around 2,300 deaths per year in Northern Ireland, 13,500 deaths per year in Scotland and 5,500 deaths in Wales. Exposure to second-hand smoke (passive smoking) can lead to a range of diseases, many of which are fatal, with children especially vulnerable to the effects of passive smoking.

In 2016 there were 7,327 alcohol-specific deaths in the UK, an age-standardised rate of 11.7 deaths per 100,000 population. For the UK, the 2016 alcohol-specific deaths rate continues to remain unchanged since 2013, but is still higher than that observed 15 years ago. Since 2001 rates of alcohol-specific deaths among males have been an average of 55% higher than those observed among females. For both sexes, rates of alcohol-specific deaths were highest among those aged 55 to 64 years in 2016. Scotland remains the constituent country with the highest rate of alcohol-specific deaths in 2016; yet Scotland has also seen the largest decrease in its rates since they peaked in the early 2000 s. In England, and for both sexes, alcohol-specific death rates in 2016 were significantly higher in the most deprived local areas when compared with least deprived local areas.

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Posted in AT Your Service, Business thoughts & my marketing services, opinion on June 27th, 2013 by John Coxon





Dear readers I actually hate most unsolicited attention of  any kind and especially from unknown people selling things via my phone line , door-stepping or spamming my  in  box and I resent most such intrusions  whether it is some suited self- righteous holy pimp at my door on a mission from Salt Lake City  to convert me , (offering  me answers from their book of things to questions I did not even ask) , a “gypsy” selling pegs or “lucky” heather  or someone phoning me about getting my loft or wall insulated for free when here ,everything  is sorted and insulated and I can seriously do without this bullshit on my phone or at my doorstep !


If I have it right, the job of being a phone based  marketeer, so called Telemarketing  “cold caller” is not for the thin-skinned , feint-hearted or pessimist and, OK ,  with the Recession and jobs so hard to find , the cold call centre must be the pits in terms of a career move but these people have to earn a living, yes, but no way at my expense! I’d be disappointed if one of my kids,  on a downward spiral, lapsed into cold calling.

“Cold Calling” is , for me,  such bad practice . It seems  a cheap-skate  random and abusive culture thing and any success it has is actually an abuse of the culture of manners that exists in the UK . Here  so many people are approached and asked questions and actually give away so much.

Out of politeness, actually we often  reveal tub loads of personal information that is priceless to so many industries and yet to which they have no actual rights, and of course will never pay for it ,  so why should we tolerate this practice ? (Whatever you tell them will no doubt be added to some data base somewhere and later sold on so by being polite and engaging them you thereby ensure that you will be thereafter ever spammed and harassed .( If you get one of those mobile text spam messages from a business and respond , that is foolish as it confirms that your number is active and that info will be sold on so the whole techie based scam thing is perpetuated. )

I wonder just how successful this hit and miss “cold call “ marketing ploy really is?

The strategy isn’t rocket science. You hire people, set them up, probably in an office full of young hopefuls, probably  under enormous pressure to hit targets and probably daily  group victims to some over cheerful, hyperactive  slave master enforcing slave group hugs and motivational exercises to keep their spirits up . Tt’s all a bit like the Roman joke  – Caesar now wants to do some water ski-ing so the galleon is going to have to be rowed very much faster. They are probably equipped with headphones and a mike and required  to sit in front of a monitor throughout their shift  with their brand script flow chart on one side and the telephone directory or the electoral register down the other and off they go. It’s computer based percentage tennis.

I have to admit that I am virtually immune to advertising of any kind.

I like to make my own choices and I’ll always simply research any product or service I actually need beyond everyday shopping and also I jealously guard my personal data.  So, a random and anonymous phone call from a cold calling brand , (or more likely a service working on its behalf)  is on a hiding to nothing for starters calling me.  Indeed, these intrusive cold calls are becoming so frequent that I get a kind of guilty pleasure seeing how many seconds it takes me to leave the caller stuttering  and with  no choice but to terminate the faux conversation and be forced to give up and then pester  the next person on that day’s list of unknown people to call!

Alarmingly I would not have to wait long to give you another example and it always starts the same way. I am busy, working from home, doing business admin or on line marketing, gardening , decorating or doing mundane chores. The phone goes, my landline ( although my mobile isn’t immune from such intrusions of privacy) and some irritating chirpy unknown asks me “Is that Mr Hanson?”


Now actually Mr Hanson has never lived here and yet Mrs Hanson, his ex, (with whom I have the honour to share both the mortgage and more importantly my life!) does and it is her name which appears in the land line directory as the householder so clearly publicly available bare-bones information is what this company are using to target its cold call public.

So , politely , I say “No” and wait. “Oh sorry – Are you the householder “ the unwanted caller asks.  (The presumption here is that I am about to confirm who I am and my status and thus provide information that is private and yet  none of this individual’s business.)

As I am getting quite good at dealing with this sort of intrusion now with so much practice and a tad irritated as I have rushed from the garden to the land line thinking it is something or someone actually important to me or my family I am keen to end this politely but quickly.

Cutting to the quick I ask , “ Are you selling something, going to save me money or want me to take part is a survey at my own expense? She replies” No we are not selling anything or trying to save you money “ but “thank you” ,she adds, and hangs up !  Job done and back to work. Maybe I should ask “who are you ?”” Where do you live ?” “Where did you get this number from ?” “Why are you picking on me “ and see how much personal data the  coldcaller is prepared to reveal !

The point is of course she was selling something but her company’s strategy was based on the misapprehension that she could simply call a number and the person picking up has time and the inclination to converse with a total stranger when it isn’t ever convenient and when that person doesn’t even actually know who they are talking to, their consumer wants and needs, like going into a shopping mall with a scatter gun and shooting it off randomly with the hope of a percentage killing.

Cold calling is desperate low grade marketing but must be effective and like door-stepping there must be a high percentage of refuseniks and door in the face slamming but the actually uptake, hooking, must be enough to make this vile practice pay its way. But simply do not call me.


A basic of PR and marketing is understand, know and respect your market and its customers and find appropriate ways to contact them  and present what you have on offer in ways that encourage dialogue , direct or indirect .  Don’t intrude or presume, spam or cold call and do not put anyone’s back up as they have friends who have friends who have friends and maybe they are also active on social media so word of mouth , the brand’s best friend,  could come back and seriously bite you on the butt.

Don’t call me . I’ll call you- end of story!



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