My email to some tobacco companies

When you’re feeling vulnerable and confused… when the world has got you down and you don’t know what to do next… when you suddenly feel yourself bereft of hope, paddling urgently to keep your head above life’s roiling waters… who do you turn to?

Your parents? Your siblings? Your partner?

I went with three of Australia’s largest cigarette companies:


Dear Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco,

I’m wondering whether you can offer me some advice.

I maintain a blog that for a while was very very popular indeed. Recently, its popularity has started to wane and I have become consumed by the possibility that it might soon take the dreaded step of pulling on some water skis and jumping the shark.

I’m writing to you because we have a lot in common. Like you, I do something  really important, really well. And like you (I’m sure), I’ve grown familiar with the fame, adulation and wealth that comes from this. Losing it now would be like losing an old friend. Not necessarily because that old friend has died. And certainly not because they’ve died of cancer. They might have just gone overseas and decided not to get into Skype or answer the phone or emails. Or they might have died, but not of cancer or any disease related to the respiratory system.

Or the circulatory system. Or the digestive system. Or the limbic system.

Or the nervous system. Or the endocrine system. Or – OK, fuck – let’s just move on to the next bit of my email.

If current affairs television has taught me one thing it is this: that in life, there are two types of people. The ones who confront a difficult moment in their lives by losing their job, getting fat and deciding to sponge off the welfare system and those who lose their job, get fat and say to themselves “Bugger it; I’m not going to let this get me down. I’m going to return to financial independence, and I’m going to do it by defrauding old people of their money.” In short, there are no-hopers and there are entrepreneurs.

I am an entrepreneur. And so when I realised my website was on the verge of jumping the shark I decided I should do something about it.

Another thing you and I have in common is that we both love logic. And simple logic dictates that a blog can’t jump a shark if there are no sharks to jump.

I’m not talking about killing sharks; that would be barbaric and unconscionable. I’m talking about luring sharks away from bodies of water that can be skied upon. With this in mind I developed a sonar device that attracted sharks, and I anchored it to the Hibernia Oil Platform off the coast of Newfoundland.

Long story short – turns out the device is killing sharks.

And other marine life.

And humans.

And to add insult to injury, it turns out you can water ski off the oil rig if you really want to – you just have to get permission from ExxonMobil. (And be careful of the fish carcasses now floating on the surface of the water surrounding the platform.)

My experience is not unlike the Victorian government’s experience with public transport smart cards a few years back. I had the choice between going with established technology (i.e. the double-A lithium battery) or trying to reinvent the absolute shit out of the wheel (i.e. create a nuclear reactor so small it could fit into my twelve-centimetre long shark lurer). I went with Myki, as it were.

Anyway speaking of governments, now the Federal one is on my back. Actually quite a few of them are. Their pseudo-science says my nuclear-powered sonar “poses a potentially multi-generational public health threat” because it’s “leaking radioactive slime” into the “Atlantic Ocean”.

But let’s, for the sake of argument, say my invention is “egregiously harmful” and “the work of a semi-competent sociopath”. How is it my fault that people choose to frolic unthinkingly on shorelines within a mere few thousand kilometres of the device? How is it my fault that various forms of marine life don’t have the self-discipline to ignore the call of the sonar and avoid having their eyeballs boiled inside their skulls? Is it really the government’s place to tell me what I can and can’t do, denying my right to pursue the eternal popularity of my blog?

These are all rhetorical questions, but feel free to answer them at length.

A non-rhetorical question I would like you to answer is this: what do I do when shit gets real and the governments look like they might actually follow through on their outrageous threat of removing my device from the sea?

Here are some public relations campaign ideas I’ve come up with that I think might help. If you could give me your opinion on each one, that would be just grand:

  1. Talk about “my brand” as if it’s a vital organ.
  2. Propose discussions about better approaches to regulation that include relevant public health stakeholders, including me and other nuclear shark lure manufacturers.
  3. Talk about what a drain on public funds the proposed device removal process would be.
  4. Make analogies between my malfunctioning nuclear fission device and other harmful products, including Twisties (MSG) and Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs (sugar).
  5. Hammer home the (entirely true) point that if I don’t operate a nuclear shark luring device,  someone else will – most likely pirates or bikie gangs or the Taliban.
  6. Demand proof that removing my device from the ocean and undertaking a massive fallout clean-up operation followed by a public education campaign and regular radioactivity testing in the area would make one iota of difference.
  7. Flaunt the benefits of harm-reduction products, such as my low-plutonium sonar device.

Also, how much do you like flake?

Yours with unbridled sincerity,

Jonathan Rivett


They’ll know what to do.

Read more Haught emails

…or choose one that takes your fancy from the list below:

My email to Yarra Trams
My email to Metro Trains
My email to Facebook
My email to Microsoft
My email to Coles
My (unsent) email to the Victorian Department of Transport
My email to Alan Jones
My email to Kyle Sandilands
My email to Gasp Jeans
My email to Jim Beam
My email to Ben Polis
My email to Hoo haa Bar
My email to Weis ice creams
My email to some tobacco companies
My email to Margaret Court
My email to KFC


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My email to the ABC (about Rat from Bananas in Pyjamas)

My email to Ticketek

My email to Ticketek

My email to the people of Sydney

My email to the people of Sydney


  1. Big Massa Baws Tobacco: an analogy wrapped round a simile inside an enigma. Why was myki like a reactor again? You’re not being new; clear.

    Three words: Indonesian Smoking Baby. I wish I had me one o those. He’s soooo cuuuute! (11 further words).

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