Tuesday, June 07, 2011


The Food and Drug Administration is gearing up yet another version of warning labels and advertisements to try and encourage people to stop smoking. Polite assertions such as "Cigarettes are addictive," and "Tobacco smoke can harm your children" are taking over where the Surgeon General's urging left off. Back in the 1960's it used to be enough to simply remind folks that "Cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health." Just like playing hopscotch in a minefield may be a bad idea as well.
It is interesting to me that after all these years we still feel compelled to save ourselves from our worst impulses. "Caution: Do Not Ingest." What about the people who forgot to bring their thesauruses and fail the synonym test. "Oh, I don't ingest nothin'. I just hold the smoke in my mouth." And there are plenty of hardened nihilists that tell you that breathing will kill most of us soon enough, so why not toss a little nicotine and menthol in on top of your daily oxygen intake while you're at it? Scary pictures and dire warnings are good for people who believe them, but if you're sixteen and invulnerable, you don't stand a big chance of getting through with a bunch of x-rays of shriveled lungs.
I suspect that you could make the entire package a warning label that said, "This will kill you," and you could still sell them for five dollars a pack. This is coming from a guy who enjoys a cheeseburger and a Coke on a fairly regular basis, and who has been known on occasion to make a cellular telephone call. The list of things that are bad for you has long since gone past my full understanding. It keeps growing every day. But the fact that I have never bothered to have a cup of coffee or a cigarette in my life makes me think that it might be possible to live forever. Then I could start to fear all those smokers using their last breaths to come and do me in out of spite. It's always something.

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