Last month, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued new, graphic warning labels for cigarettes and from the looks of them, they’re the coolest things ever. You’ve got a dead guy on one, another dude with smoke coming out of a hole in his throat — they’re awesome!
Certainly more bold and “in your face” than the old labels (text in a boring white box). Back then, what were those idiots thinking?
Wake up, people!! Danger is sexy. Everyone wants to hang with the cool kids. These new labels will just make the cooler kids even hangier.
That people still smoke despite years of carefully written warnings, signals defiance, no fear. Graphic images designed to unnerve the queasy, just another visual to ignore — the sense of self-destruction knows no bounds. While some twerk [greatest example ever] and watch what they eat, others take a long, comfortable drag of “who gives a shit?” and bounce smoke rings off cancer’s eyehole. Factor in the risks of second-hand smoke, these people might as well be waving a gun in a bank lobby.
For as little as $12 a pack in Manhattan, the new labels seemingly have something for everyone. Impressionable young teens may ease into it, say, Newports with the baby in the incubator. The comic book nerd untouched by the fairer sex, it may not get him laid but give him a pack of Tareytons with a tracheotomy and tell me he didn’t suddenly become a lot more interesting. Ladies?
Canada has used similar labels since 2000 and according to Wikipedia the country has not been invaded since. Warnings to cover 75% of the display surface were approved by Parliament in June. Eventually, they’ll wrap 100% with a thin Carpaccio made from actual diseased lung. Each pack must be registered online and, when not in use, stored in a childproof lockbox with a combination even the owner isn’t allowed to know. These new warning labels: baby steps.
Relax, it’ll never happen — but think about it. Evil tobacco companies rake in 5% profit on every pack and what would we lose if they were out of business? Mostly, the 55% per pack that’s collected in cigarette taxes. This would be 11 times evil, if math is something you’re into. Discouraging customers or sabotaging an industry with disturbing images would seem counterproductive in terms of sponging tax revenue off the top — which, I argue, is exactly why these labels are designed to add smokers, not lose them.
These studies all fail to recognize:
- The portion of the population that takes responsibility, understands what they’re doing, enjoys a cigarette and nothing on a label will stop them.
- Goths who don’t smoke already, suddenly interested.
- Non-smoking daredevils and X-Games participants, thrilled by the promise of danger.
- Those charmed by graphic images. Thinking it’s art, they buy many cartons, only to later discover they’re cigarettes. Boom — addicted.
- Second-hand smokers who’ve always wanted a closer look.
- Stubborn non-smokers who don’t like being told what to do and have been looking to start a dirty, expensive habit known its for health issues.
- Oakland Raiders fans stocking up for another two-pack a day season.
- Collectors: “I’ve got two packs of Marlboro Lights with diseased lungs. I’ll trade you for the Pall Mall second-hand smokes.”
- People who would rollercoaster standing up if you let them.
For a warning label to discourage smoking, especially with kids, showing the older generation at its sickest and most vulnerable isn’t nearly as effective as showing the music they listen to. Nothing deflates a young target demo’s purchasing bubble faster than Josh Grobin, Steely Dan, Celine Dion, Kenny G, Bette Midler or Yanni. Make the product so embarrassingly uncool that nobody wants anything to do with it, like bell bottoms or MySpace.
And where’s the positivity?: The couple that would have never met had she not bummed a cigarette from her future husband at the train station — their daughter becomes the first female President of the United States! The prisoner who avoids an unwanted sexual advance in exchange for three cartons of Marlboros. These are feel-good stories.
While cigarettes are an easy target, it would seem reasonable that warning labels could be put on pretty much anything. What else needs one? Go to the Facebook page to submit your own …
WARNING — If ball is caught by fan, the IRS will dispatch a team of accountants, auditors and attorneys to establish a control command center within the rectal cavity of said fan, all before he/she has a chance to sit back down. Whether the ball is kept, sold, given away or destroyed, the Taxman cometh.
WARNING — Most nothing is real. Even worse, eventually you’ll have to talk to it.
CAUTION — Ladies, please do not stampede one another hoping to land this now that it’s free. Please, one at a time.
WARNING — Once elected, I’ll make decisions that are nothing like I promised during the campaign — in fact, in many cases, the exact 180-degree polar opposite of what you might have been expected based on what I said — but I know you’ll vote for me again and you know that I know. Muah!
WARNING — Under no circumstances should you insert anything you care about inside this.
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