The U.S. Food and Drug Administration revealed its new graphic warning labels for cigarettes today, causing several reporters to faint in terror. Fortunately, paramedics were able to revive them.
Seriously, these things are intense. One of them shows a guy with a tracheotomy puffing smoke out of the hole in his neck. Another treats us to a close-up view of someone suffering from oral cancer. A third offers a side-by-side comparison of healthy lungs versus smokers’ lungs. The most chilling image cuts to the chase and shows us a dead smoker, post-autopsy.
The idea behind these graphic warning labels, which become mandatory on all cigarette packs by September 2012, is that merely saying that smoking is hazardous to your health is not good enough to reach the Dumbass-American community. Horror-show visuals are necessary to make the point.
The new packaging leaves only a small area for manufacturers to include brand information. That should add a certain “pot-luck” atmosphere to the smoking experience.
It will also do wonders for the efficiency of checkout lines. Have you been inside a convenience store lately? There are racks of cigarettes displayed behind the counter. Smokers don’t just grab their favorite brand off the shelves and saunter up to the cash register. They have to ask the clerk to fetch the desired flavor of coffin nail for them. That will become so much easier once the brand information is squeezed into a little box beneath one of nine random Hellraiser images.
You know what else you find inside convenience stores? Kids. They love grisly, forbidden things. Their curiosity about cigarettes should be enhanced by their desire to get a good look at the Oral Cancer Mouth. It shouldn’t be long before we get a new set of regulations that require all convenience stores and Wal-Marts to be re-designed, so that youthful customers can’t actually see the cigarette packages.
Will this new graphic warning label concept catch on for other products, such as alcohol? Liquor stores are currently a fascinating mosaic of lovely bottles and catchy labels. They’ll look so much better when all you can see is row after row of drunk-driving street pizza and deformed livers.
So… why is the government allowing the sale of substances it must label as bio-hazardous material, using gruesome imagery that would never be tolerated anywhere near a Planned Parenthood clinic? If these things leave you dead on slab with autopsy stitches running up your torso, then why doesn’t the nanny state simply ban their sale and manufacture, instead of spending millions of dollars to turn convenience stores into sets from a David Lynch film?
Because the government rakes in billions from cigarette taxes, of course. The states pull down about $20 billion, while Uncle Sam gets $7 billion. They’re always talking about raising cigarette taxes to fund various programs, which are frequently For The Children. It’s interesting that cigarette money is never earmarked for mundane bureaucratic stuff. It’s always something noble and wonderful, as if that somehow expiates the sin of pulling down billions from the same product the government treats as a renegade serial killer.
Several prominent Democrats have said that paying taxes is the ultimate act of patriotism, which makes opposing tax increases un-American. Doesn’t that mean smoking is an act of patriotism, too? The federal government alone gets 39 cents of tax per pack. That’s over $142 per year for each pack-a-day smoker. Some states pull in four or five times as much tax as Washington does. Depriving the government of all that revenue by quitting would be profoundly unpatriotic.
The abolition of tobacco would also wipe out some huge companies, and destroy countless jobs. Strangely enough, that doesn’t seem to have stopped the government from ruining the domestic oil industry. I guess American oil is more evil than tobacco. The graphic warning labels on gas pumps should be awesome.