Anorak News | The Kids Are All Alight

The Kids Are All Alight

by | 12th, October 2005

‘STEFFAN Jackson is addicted to smoking, or hooked on ciggies, as the Sun reports. Nothing odd in that – until you learn that Steffan is ten years old.

‘Twenty Virginia Slims please. Shamo!’

Steffan started smoking when he was aged four and admits to getting through ten fags a day. He buys them on the black market for £2.50 for 20, funded by the £5-a-week pocket money his mum gives him.

Aged ten or not, we should not excuse the boy’s maths. Let’s look at the sums, as we would a thoroughly modern maths GCSE problem.

Things do not add up. While the Sun showcases Steffan, and the boy poses for a photo with a ciggie in his hand, we sense that he’s embellished the truth a little.

It is possible that Steffan is not quite giving us the true picture of his habit. If he gets by on a fiver each week, then he has enough to buy 40 cigarettes. That’s 30 less than the 70 he claims to smoke a week.

Sure he could be getting his smokes from another source, but since mum Teresa packed in her 60-a-day habit, he can’t filch hers. Cigarettes might be made from dried leaves, but they don’t grow on trees.

Neither are they supplied by a yellowy man called Nic O’Teen, as they were in the 1980s, when kids watching TV were warned about her perils of the evil weed by Superman. The super hero would go up to the foul Nic and throttle the life out of his ciggies – taking care not to burn the fags with his X-Ray vision lest he inhale their fumes and drop to the ground stone dead.

This is no joking matter. This is smoking. It can be deadly. It earns the Government loadsa money through taxes – although Tony Blair can rest easy in knowing that he earns not a penny from young Steffan who buys his cancer sticks from a man who, given his dissolute lifestyle, he might well meet in a pub.

Smoking is a filthy habit. It makes you smell. It costs too much money to make any sense, unless your other habits are setting light to fivers and golf. And it increases the chances of getting some pretty hideous diseases.

But such talk is wasted on Steff. He’s ten. And though mum Teresa says she’s tried everything to get him to stop – perhaps she should try stopping his pocket money? – his smoking makes him stand out from the crowd. Smoking has got him into the national press. And how cool is that?

And better than that, smoking has allowed Steffan to feature in a BBC3 show called Honey We’re Killing the Kids.

It might sound like the title of an Oliver Stone flick – Natural Born Killers for the pre-teen market – but it’s not. Looking at the Beeb’s website, we learn: “Each week experts use cutting-edge technology to show parents how their children may look at 40 if they don’t change their current lifestyle.”

Show any parent that their little loves will look like all grown up and middle-aged and they’ll surely scream and cover their eyes, smoking or no smoking.

Little Armani’s funny little way of playing with mummy’s earrings has mutated into her pierced eyelids. Introverted Jake’s “Bang-Bang!” games means he is now a solitary type who wanders around the village dressed in Army fatigues and is not allowed within two hundred yards of the nearest school. Bossy Jamie who never wanted to share and told fibs is the Prime Minister.

Imagine the shock on Michael Jackson’s mother’s face had she been able to gaze into the magic box and see her precocious ten-year-old child at 40.

The point of this is, of course, to promote healthy living. So we get to see two morphs of Steffan, one demonstrating the effects of a healthy lifestyle and the other illustrating how the child would grow up if the family’s bad habits continue.

Healthy Steffan looks better than unhealthy Steffan. Which is just great – so long as nothing happens to Steffan in the next thirty years; something the Beeb’s technical types failed to factor into their computer programmes.

The thing is that life is riddled with risks. Smoking increases the risk of getting some bad things, but not all of them. If Steffan gives up fags straight away, bad things may yet befall him.

Perhaps the BBC can show us what will happen to Steffan if the War on Terror is not won. Or if England fail to win the World Cup. Or if he gets a spoon stuck in his eye in a Turkish nightclub.

Steffan is a freak. His smoking is not the norm. Rather than the BBC holding him up as a warning to us all – the freak show that could be you – he should be ignored.

Smelled but not heard…’

Posted: 12th, October 2005 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink