Kick Butt

RICHMOND, Virginia — Dead bodies, diseased lungs and a man on a ventilator were among the graphic images for revamped tobacco labels unveiled on Tuesday by U.S. health officials.

Proposed in November under a law that put the multibillion-dollar tobacco industry under the control of the Food and Drug Administration, the new labels must be on cigarette packages and in advertisements starting in October 2012.

They show images that may disturb some, including one titled “WARNING: Cigarettes are addictive,” illustrated with a photograph of a man smoking a cigarette through a hole in his throat. Among the images to appear on cigarette packs are rotting and diseased teeth and gums, the corpse of a smoker, diseased lungs, and a mother holding her baby with smoke swirling around them. — MSNBC

Personally, I prefer some of the ones that were NOT used.  See them here.

I’m not a cigarette smoker, never was.   These days when I want to smoke I light up a small Macanudo Ascot (Maduro), or fill a pipe with Balkan Sasieni — although after a few years’ hiatus, Dunhill tobacco is available again, so I’ll probably go back to Standard Mixture, Elizabethan, Early Morning Blend, and Nightcap, which I enjoyed for years.

I have a box of cigarettes in the house which I bought in January when I visited the famous Leavitt and Peirce Tobacco store in Harvard Square — English Ovals which I hadn’t seen in something like 25 years.  A box of 20 cost $11!  I’ve smoked two so far.

The point is, I don’t care is written or depicted on packs of cigarettes.  It won’t have any impact on me personally, and I rather doubt it will sway any current smokers, either.  Maybe it will dissuade new smokers, but I’m skeptical.  Even notice that these things have a tendency to backfire?  The few studies I’ve looked at evaluating the effectiveness of graphic warnings like these (in Canada, for example) have been inconclusive.  The results seem to depend on who pays for the survey.  Imagine.

That aside, it chaps my tuchas that the US government diverts resources to coerce the behavior of private corporations like this, especially after decades of providing financial subsidies to tobacco farmers, and deploying huge trade incentives internationally to encourage smoking American products.

Plus there’s the economic reality that taxes on tobacco sales produce precious revenue for both state and Federal budgets.  Smoking may be harmful to smokers’ health, but it does wonders for their government’s bottom line.  Keep puffin’ — we need the money!

And as long as we’re pointing out hypocrisy, why is this deadly product legal at all, when marijuana isn’t?  How many cases of lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, etc. have been linked to getting baked on hippie lettuce?  In round numbers: zero.

Our government seems to have a genuine concentration problem.  It constantly focuses its warlike efforts on the wrong causes, whether it’s foreign policy like Iraq and Afghanistan, or domestic issues  like drugs and homosexuality.  And it doesn’t seem to matter a whole lot who’s in charge at any moment, which suggests to me that either nobody knows what they’re doing, or that at the level these decisions are made there’s nary a dime’s worth of  difference among the deciders.  Or maybe both.

Finally, I conclude that because there’s no warning labels on firearms or ammunition, they’re perfectly safe in the hands of pregnant women and operators of heavy machinery when they’re drinking and smoking.

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4 Responses to Kick Butt

  1. If the government, from time to time, doesn’t pretend it likes you,it has no reason to ask you to give generously of your income on a yearly basis to keep it running. a dollar to subsidize tobacco farmers, a dollar for posters envouraging you not to smoke and three dollars to the Senator who sponsored both. There’s your fiver. The $$ is well spent. BTW, as schools are in dire staits across the US, we happily opened a new Afghan university last week, Kabul State……or whatever, boolah boolah, paid for by you and I ……..and next week, during Frosh orientation, its Funny Hat Day. Funny Hat Day has corporate sponsors, The Afghani deodorant, TaliBAN, so it doesn’t cost you or me a single dime.

  2. Beardsley says:

    Although I can’t say I think this recent directive to change the look of cigarette packing makes a lot of sense, I don’t have a problem with the government devoting resources to discourage smoking. It’s a matter of national health, and its treatment has become extraordinarily expensive to taxpayers, most of whom do NOT smoke.

    I agree with your points about the inconsistency of simultaneously discouraging the practice while living off its revenue, as well as the immorality using government influence to push tobacco markets abroad.

    I don’t think tobacco should be made illegal (or alcohol, for that matter), and I believe that marijuana should be treated similarly. I thought this would happen 30 years ago, but clearly there are powerful interests making lots of money in the War on Drugs, of which marijuana is a major component.

  3. Labrys says:

    Thank you for saying what I’ve been thinking all week. I do not smoke, but considering the other shit hitting fans, the anti-smoking taxes and effort seem stupid. Not to mention that many states, like my own, NEED tobacco taxes and are cutting their own financial throats with this effort.

  4. Lois Terms says:

    That’s an interesting point about the revenue generated for government by tobacco sales. The same would be true of the other ‘sin taxes’ like liquor and gambling. To be consistent, government should ENCOURAGE people to smoke drink and gamble — which in a way they do whenever they push lottery tickets. So from that perspective, this anti-smoking campaign makes no sense whatsoever.

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