Monday, April 21, 2008

Caffeine: the original gateway drug. A Shocking Expose on our Nation’s Dirty Little Secret

A Supastar Collective Screenplay

Exterior - Camera pans scenes of skid row, signs of dereliction, homelessness and rampant drug use.

(Display on screen)
In Canada, illicit drugs cost the taxpayer an estimated $5 billion annually in crime, lost productivity, health care and enforcement.

63% of federal offenders have drug abuse problems.

Fade to black

Fade In

(Display on screen)
Gateway Drug: “A habit-forming drug that is not addictive but its use may lead to the use of other addictive drugs.” (source:

Fade to black

Interior - Doctor's Office:
Subtitle: Dr. Von Mergelas, drug prevention expert

Gateway drugs serve as social and psychological precursors to the use of other drugs. The decision to use coffee sets up a pattern of behaviour that makes it easier for a user to go on to other drugs. Social psychologists refer to this phenomenon as a “developmental progression”. Children who decide to accept the risks of drinking coffee later find it much easier to accept the risks of other, more destructive, drugs.

Fade to black

(Display on screen)
Almost 100% of all heroin users admit to having tried coffee before their first heroin experience.

Heroin addicts rarely, if ever, begin their drug use with heroin – they start with a gateway drug, such as coffee, and then progress, or regress, to heroin.

INTERVIEWER (off-screen)
So, in your opinion, what needs to be done?

From a public policy standpoint, coffee awareness programs are essential. Prevention of cocaine and heroin use begins with preventing coffee use. If children learn to make good decisions regarding gateway drugs, such as coffee, they are unlikely to begin using controlled substances.

I had no idea.

Most people don’t. Using coffee breaks down your inhibitions, changing the way you feel about drugs in general. It leads to alcohol and marijuana abuse, which leads to cocaine and heroin. It’s a hop, skip and a jump from sipping cappuccino in a trendy coffee shop to dying in an alley with a needle in your arm. Tim Horton’s has a lot to answer for.

What’s that smell?

I don’t smell anything.

(Sniffing, standing and looking through a partially closed door)
You’re brewing a pot of coffee in there!

(Standing and pushing the camera aside)
This interview is over!

Fade to black

(Display on screen)
The extent of caffeine usage far exceeds that estimated for alcohol and nicotine, and is the most widely consumed psychotropic drug worldwide.

(Display on screen)
1.4 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day worldwide.

Interior - High School cafeteria.
Interviewer and interviewee walking side-by side
Subtitle: Barbara Reynolds, High School Principal

I’ve proposed a total coffee ban on school grounds. It’s become a serious problem. At first I didn’t think much about it. Very few kids drank it, except for a few girls who wanted to look older. But now, since Tim Horton’s came along and offered to sponsor our marching band, everyone’s drinking it.

(starting to get angry)
Now we’ve got a goddamn barista sitting in the corner of our cafeteria filling our students full of this, this, this…crap! New marching band uniforms don’t make up for the fact that many of these kids’ lives are probably ruined!

The problem is that these companies are marketing directly to kids, the way the tobacco industry did in the sixties and seventies with Joe Camel. They got an entire generation hooked on cigarettes before the government regulated their advertising practices.

Do you really believe that the coffee industry consciously targets kids in its campaigns?

I have no doubt whatsoever. Can you imagine any self-respecting adult ordering a triple non-fat caramel macchiato with extra foam? Never going to happen. These coffee drinks are disguised as shakes and smoothies so they appeal to kids. And the message is, if you don’t drink coffee, you’re not cool.

(Display on Screen)
Coffee/caffeine experimentation by teens is far greater than that of marijuana, alcohol and even tobacco.

Cut to: Interior - Student Lounge
(Interviewer sitting down with three fourteen year olds)

So do you guys like drinking coffee? Do you feel any pressure to drink it?

KID 1 (male)
Well, I never buy coffee myself, but if I’m at a party and someone’s making a pot, I’ll use it.

KID 2 (male)
I think coffee’s stupid. I don’t know how anyone can drink that stuff. Everyone knows what it can lead to. People at this school drink it just to be cool, but it’s really destroying their health, and making their teeth all brown. People might call me a loser, but I don’t care, I’ll be laughing at them in university.

KID 3 (female)
Personally, I don’t know what the big deal is. My Mom told me that she drank tons of coffee at Woodstock, and she’s fine. She drinks it in front of me and my sister, and she let’s us drink it on the weekends if we want to. She knows she can trust us to drink it responsibly.

Fade to black

(Display on screen)
More than 40% of all teenagers 18 to 19 years old drink similar amounts of coffee as older generations.

Exterior - Trendy Queen Street West

We’re pushing for a complete ban on coffee sales and the closure of all the Tim Horton’s and Starbucks in the city. Youth unemployment, homelessness and the increase in violent crime all have direct links to coffee. I don’t need some professor in a lab coat to show me stats, because I know it makes our streets more dangerous and my job more difficult For three years I’ve patrolled this tough area of Queen street, which we call “the coffee beat”, and I can tell you without a doubt that there is a direct connection between what you see in front of you …
(camera pans the generally clean Queen West area)

…and coffee abuse.

Let’s face it, coffee doesn’t find these kids by accident. We all know that coffee comes from Colombia, and we all know what else comes from Colombia, right? Cocaine, and big business in Colombia is controlled by the cocaine cartels, including the coffee trade. The cartels know that coffee abuse is the first step in the progression to becoming a regular cocaine user.

Don’t major corporations, like General Foods and Nestle produce and sell most of the coffee we drink?

They might want you to think that, but you don’t have to be a genius to know that it’s all a front for the cocaine cartels.

Apparently not.

(Pregnant pause)
(Interviewer motions towards police car)
(camera zooms in on car interior)

What’s in that thermos on your front seat?

(Begins to pull out billy club)
Do you have a permit to be making this film? I suggest you move along.

(Display on Screen)
When Venice imported coffee beans for the first time in 1615, the Catholic Church immediately denounced it as 'the drink of infidels'.

Cut to: Interior - coffee shop
(Interviewee is behind the counter. He is the shop owner, a middle age WASP, no foreign accent.)
Subtitle: James McDurphy, coffee shop owner

Do I sell coffee to kids? Sure, if they order it. It’s not illegal. Most of my customers are lawyers and bankers from Bay Street. I’m fulfilling a need for my customers, and I’m not breaking any laws! I pay my taxes. But I get people coming into my store, calling me a criminal and threatening me with violence! They tell me to go back to my own country and peddle my drugs there…. to be honest, I don’t quite understand what they mean by that. My family has lived in lower Rosedale for five generations.

Fade to black

(Display on screen)
The number of Starbucks coffee shops worldwide: 5,886

The number of Tim Horton’s stores in Canada: more than 2,200

Interior - An upper middle class suburban home.
(Worried mother sitting at kitchen table)

It’s like I don’t even know my own daughter anymore. I mean she’s always bright-eyed, wide-awake and on the Dean’s list, but I’m deathly afraid for her.

(Camera pulls back to include daughter, sitting across the table, drinking a cup of coffee. Normal, healthy teen. Rolls eyes in disgust at mother’s concern)

(Close-up of Mother):
Sometimes I feel like I’m losing her. First she was drinking coffee, and then last week, I sent her to the mall to buy some new clothes for school, and she came home wearing these dangerously low jeans. She looked like some…some kind of…prostitute. I don’t even want to think about it. What’s next?! Drinking at parties, or staying out all night, or…or…or… having sex?! (closes her eyes and crosses herself) I just have so much fear that she’s going to end up another statistic living on the streets of Toronto, or worse, in jail, or dead in a ditch somewhere.

Fade to black

(Display on Screen)
--> Low-rise jeans
--> Alcohol abuse
--> Underage sex
--> Drugs
--> Prostitution
--> Crime
--> Jail
--> Death

Interior-Rehab Clinic, two people being interviewed, seated side by side, one a counselor, the other a rehab patient.
Subtitle: John Jenner, Drug Rehab Counselor

Our role is not to judge, it’s to help people get healthy. But – and I’m very clear with my patients – coffee is what put you in here, and if you drink it again you will die.

Fade to black

(Display on Screen)
Voltaire reportedly drank 50 cups of coffee a day.

Fade in to same setting as before

Camera moves from shot of both people to close up of patient, a disheveled 23 year old:
Subtitle: recovering addict

I know this wouldn’t have happened to me without coffee. I first smoked pot at 11, snorted coke at 12 and was free-basing by 14. But I had definitely tried coffee a bunch of times before I got involved in any of that other shit. Once, after a big night of weed, coke, and, like, twelve cups of coffee, I woke up literally lying in a gutter. That was the lowest I got. And then I looked up and I thought I saw God standing before me in the alleyway… turns out it was a dog and I was looking in a mirror. That was when I figured I better get off the juice.

Fade to black

Exterior - van parked in front of a high school

(Getting out of van, speaking to camera)
We tried to contact the Canadian Coffee Products Council to find out if in fact they are trying to capture the hearts, minds, and wallets of the nation’s children through advertising, effectively hooking them for life before they finish high school. They denied our requests for an on camera interview, but issued a written statement to us, denying any improper advertising practices by their members.

(holds up letter for camera to see)
(reads part of letter on camera)
‘Coffee drinking in moderation, around four to five cups a day, is perfectly safe and is increasingly being shown to confer some health benefits. However, it has been suggested that caffeine, that naturally occurring mild central nervous system stimulant found in coffee, is an addictive substance. This is simply not the case.”

We decided to take this letter back to high school Principal, Barbara Reynolds, to find out what she thinks of the coffee council’s denials.

(Mrs. Reynolds is across the parking lot, unlocking her car)

(Approaching Principal in a school parking lot, waving letter, calling out from distance)
Mrs. Reynolds, we’d like to get your reaction to a letter we received from… (voice trails off)

(now standing in front of Principal)
What is that?

(about to get into her car)
(defensive tone)
What is what?

What is that in your hand?

(clearly holding a Tim Horton’s cup)
What is what in my hand?

That’s a cup of coffee.

No it isn’t.

Yes it is. It’s a Tim Horton’s coffee.

No it isn’t!
(Throws the coffee in the interviewer’s face and sprints off)

Camera holds on drenched interviewer for a second, while Mrs. Reynolds sprints away in the background. After several seconds, a marching band drummer walks by in background with big Tim Horton’s bass drum (Tim Horton’s logo is featured prominently on the drum and the teen-age boy is wearing the Tim Horton branded band uniform). Camera pans from interviewer to bass drummer and follows him as he marches into the distance.

Display on screen (one at a time) with drummer in background:

(Display on Screen)
Caffeine is the planet’s most widely used drug, with a per capita consumption of 70mg per day.

The Coffee Association of Canada estimates that 63% of all adult Canadians drink coffee on a daily basis, with the highest percentage of usage in Quebec.

A CASA study revealed that young women who drink coffee are significantly more likely to smoke (23.3% vs. 5.1%) and drink alcohol (69.8% vs. 29.5%) than young women who never drink coffee.

In addition to leading to cocaine and heroin addiction, critics contend that coffee increases risk of osteoporosis, pancreatic and breast cancer, complications during pregnancy, indigestion, heartburn, and a variety of other conditions and ailments.

There are currently no treatment programs in North America for coffee addiction


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