Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blowing Smoke

Yesterday, the FDA released stomach-churning images of nine new photo warnings which will be required on cigarette packages beginning next year. The pictures show oral cancer, a man blowing smoke out of a tracheotomy hole, a man with a surgical incision running the length of his chest, a dead body in a coffin, and Barack Obama smoking in the Whitehouse.

Okay, actually that last picture
exists, but is being suppressed along with the Osama bin Laden death photos. But all of the others will be appearing soon in their full-color gory glory. Because the government really, really, really wants people to stop smoking, right?

Wrong. The government wants it to
seem like they're against smoking when actually they're full partners in the whole death-dealing business.

After all, the FDA could simply outlaw cigarettes the same way they outlaw various food additives, narcotics, and other substances...but then they'd be cutting off
the most addictive of all drugs: tax money. In 2009, the Feds collected $8.5 billion in taxes from smokers, and the states picked up another $15.7 billion.

And there's one
other huge way that coughers benefit government coffers: by dying. With insufficient funds to pay for Medicare and Social Security, it's practically money in the bank for the federal government every time someone kicks the bucket without collecting full benefits.

So while
Hope n' Change has nothing against the gory new warning labels on cigarettes, we think it's important to remind people of this unfiltered truth: believing everything the government tells you can be hazardous to your health.

Here are some of the new warnings for smokers like Barack Obama,
who couldn't understand the old ones.


Angry Hoosier Dad said...

I had only been addicted for 6 or 7 years and was burning through 2-1/2 packs a day when I smoked my last cigarette and never touched another. Hardest thing I ever did was to quit, but I was motivated and pig-headed. That was a long time ago (when cigarettes were still .50 - .60 a pack). Having lived on both sides, I don't judge people who choose to smoke though I encourage them to quit if they so desire. Like you I do have a problem with government telling us not to do things from which they derive great financial gain. It is the worst hypocrisy. And telling us that these taxes go to smoking prevention and healthcare initiatives is crap. All money goes to the general fund and they spend it any damned way they please. One last thought on habits...there are a lot of bad habits in the world, but one of the worst is being holier than thou. I should remember that more often.

Jim Hlavac said...

And when will the warning labels on booze bottles come? You know, drunks, cirrhossis of the liver, puking, brain damage, car wrecks, bar brawls, etc? Then on cars, when you buy them, or maybe on the bumper all the time -- car wrecks, cancer (what, you think them fumes don't do nothing?) And on diesel busses in cities, too. Who knows what cancer and problems are caused by waiting for the bus! And who knows what else we can be warned away from? We're a country that puts warning labels on lawn mowers: "Don't put hands in moving blades" for heaven's sake. And then, maybe, the gov't can put them on cruise missiles, for they sort of cause a bit more damage to people (though, not Americans, so is this OK then?) than cigarettes.

Meanwhile, the gov't is propping up the price of tobacco, to make sure the farmers earn enough, they say. And how many jobs will be lost from this? And if states like La. and Fla. and others use tobacco taxes to increase their revenues for "education" they say, won't this cut into those now? And if everyone stopped smoking, wouldn't that put tens of thousands of people out of work, the retailers and such? And since the ciggie smugglers are already going full swing in NY State and City, with $14 packs and just 80 miles away half the price in Pennsylvania, how soon before tobacco is outlawed like marijuana, so we can put a few more millions of people in prison?

(And Stilt, now I'm going to go out and have a ciggie, for it calms my nerves -- [hehehe, you know, guns] -- for the coming morass is indeed dangerous to my health. I'm having a heart attack as my investments fall! Hey, I know, warnings on the stock market: "Caution, falling markets may cause drinking and smoking and teeth gnashing!" It's never ending when controls come from government.)

And when tobacco is close to being eradicated by the FDA will the EPA declare it an endangered species? Hmm. And when can us Euro-Americans sue the Native-Americans for having introduced us to the stuff? Now that's a bit of political correctness a good lawyer should look at.

Dave said...

For serious smokers I don't think it will matter what the warnings say,but I do have a question about the warnings....Won't those graphic labels cause mental trauma not just to the smoker who has to look at them all the time but also to the smoker's spouse and children because they are seeing the graphic pictures? I mean the government is so hip to protect us from ourselves but aren't they doing something with these labels that will cause other types of harm? In 20 years there will be lawsuits because some serial killer will claim that the warning labels desensitized him to death!!!

Suzy said...

And yet they'll force pro-lifers to remove billboards that show what a murdered baby looks like...they say its not right to show such graphic pictures in public but now this?

Nothing this government does makes sense in the least these days.

drozz said...

allow me to quote from dennis leary:

" It doesn't matter how big the warnings on the cigarettes are; you could have a black pack, with a skull and crossbones on the front, called TUMORS, and smokers would be around the block going, "I can't wait to get my hands on these f*(king things! I bet ya get a tumor as soon as you light up!"

John the Econ said...

First off, congratulations AHD on quitting. I know how hard that is to do, and generally highly respect people with the initiative and personal discipline to do so.

However, I do judge people who do make the decision to smoke. For anyone born after the '50s, you would have had to spend your entire life under a rock not to know that smoking is very bad for your health. And it's absurdly expensive as well.

So why do people still do it? There are only 2 reasons I know of to smoke: To look "cool" to your peers, and because you are an addict. The first reason is oxymoronic; if you have to consciously act (and in a manner that is contrary to your well-being) just to impress someone else, by definition you are not "cool". The second reason is usually a consequence of the first, and that's just sad.

As for the tobacco industry: They are brilliant. They saw the hammer coming down in the form of more regulation and consumer lawsuits. So what do they do? They buy protection by making the US government their partner! As mentioned above, they need no longer fear being outlawed as the Federal and state governments now make as much as they do. The sad part is that as government continues to grow, this will continue to be the big-business model for the rest of the century.

The new labels are just silly. Few will be deterred from smoking because of this for the reasons I've already stated; most people start smoking as insecure teenagers who have absolutely no worthwhile sense of risk to override the desire to be "cool".

Chuck said...

Quit smoking in 2003. Yep, hardest thing I've ever done. Tried may times before that (smoked for 30 years ... started in the Army where they gave you cigarettes with your field rations!).

It's like any other bad habit in that the only way you're going to quit is if you really want to. Scary pictures won't do it. Every smoker knows the risks and wishes they never started, but coupled with the habit angle is the addiction thing.

I'm actually surprised that they are doing this because it IS such a cash cow, and while the gross pics won't stop a smoker, they might discourage a few young folks from ever starting. No, never mind, that's a silly thought ... people will do what they want, no matter how self-destructive it is. And I'm at the top of the guilty list!

Suzy said...

I suppose they'll start posting pictures of morbidly obese people with diabetic legs on Happy Meals, next....

Anonymous said...

Remember last summer when the Department of Transportation was whining because they weren't collecting as much tax revenue since people were not buying as much gas when it was over $4 a gallon?

Its all about the taxes, baby!

Just another Dave said...

How about continuous loop gory highway patrol videos running on big screens at liquor store check out points? Drink, drive, get caught, lose your license. Maybe, instead, narrower streets with more trees and poles in bar and 'entertainment' districts would help idiot drunks remove themselves from MC/SS roles quicker ...

I just realized that corner junior stores are probably points of greatest tax collection per dollar spent: gas, beer, cigarettes, lottery tickets ... Can I get a government grant to open one of these taxation hotspots?

Lee The Voice said...

I rather like the skull and crossbones comment. In fact, it's a pretty good idea. But since it is, the feds will never do it.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Readers- Great posts above, and I want to toss in some general thoughts before making more specific replies. Today's topic is complex: normally I'd hate the government's "nanny state" intrusiveness and would say that people should have the right to make bad choices and live with the consequences. But that option isn't actually on the table for a variety of reasons.

For starters, the whole "bad choice" argument becomes moot when you're dealing with addictive substances. You may make the initial choice to start smoking because you're young, stupid, and want to "look cool" (or was that a triple redundancy?)...but once you're hooked, you're not really making choices anymore.

That being said, the government isn't intervening to cut down on smoking...they're making a very public show of taking action against tobacco because they received unimaginable billions from the so-called "tobacco settlement" which they claimed they'd spend on education efforts, so every now and then they need to pretend to do so.

By the way, that "tobacco settlement" not only made the government partners with the cigarette industry, it also gave government protection to practices like making more addictive, more toxic cigarettes to sell to overseas markets, as well as protection from most lawsuits.

The settlement also made a lot of lawyers richer than hell...which is exactly where the whole lot of them should go.

@Angry Hoosier Dad- Congrats on giving up smoking. It took my Dad multiple attempts to do so (at an advanced age), and I remain convinced that he died younger than he should have owing to the damage to his heart and lungs.

@Jim Hlavac- It certainly seems like similar labels should go on booze bottles, as there's no question about the amount of damage done. Of course, the government makes a lot of money off of that particular "sin tax" too, so doesn't really want anyone quitting.

And I admit that I'm a drinker, so to avoid hypocrisy I think I'll print up some labels for my bottles showing people puking, having splitting headaches, and sleeping with people and animals of questionable nature. And can't we all easily imagine the photo that goes with "Caution: Drinking Can Make You Tweet Your Weiner."

@Dave & Suzy- Your comments dovetail, so I'm responding in kind. It IS interesting that the government wants to inflict these images on non-smokers (including children) but is so intolerant of the use of similarly shocking images which show the exact consequences of abortion.

And in keeping with the general notion of the government's (ahem) "morality" and how its shaped by fiscal realities, keep in mind that a big benefit to current abortion policy is millions of people being removed from the roles of Welfare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The government doesn't support abortion because it's a celebration of women's does so because death is cheap, and life is expensive.

@drozz- Leary is right on the money. If you Google, you'll see that many cigarette ads have actually contained images of death (usually subtle) for decades. It actually appeals to the "bad boy" delusions of some smokers.

@John the Econ- Very well said, as always. And I agree that the new labels are just silly. Although I suppose a few jobs will be created (finally!) as companies create sleeves for cigarette packages so no one will have to look at those images.

@Chuck- Way to go! And you're right...smoking is such a cash cow for the government that any efforts to stop or reduce it will be only for show, as is the case here. And as far as being on the guilty list for self-destructive choices, I'll also have to admit my sins. In fact, when the government eventually puts graphic warning photos on fast food, every "Big Mac" will come with a picture of me in a Speedo.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Readers- Yow! While I was writing the long reply above, a bunch more of you commented! So...

@Suzy- You beat me to the McDonald's punchline. Although now that I think of it, maybe McDonald's meals should come with pictures of Michael Moore in a Speedo. That should get people to eat salads. Well, once they recover any interest in solid food...

@Anonymous- "It's all about the taxes, baby." You've wrapped up the whole subject in six words!

@JustAnotherDave- The looping gory accident scene videos would certainly be an interesting addition to liquor stores. Do highschools still show those old horror classics which end up with a real prom queen impaled on a steering column? And would kids even care anymore, or simply bitch that the films weren't in 3D?

And you're right that the quickie marts are absolutely where the gummint's big tax bucks come from: gas, alcohol, tobacco, lotteries. Hard to believe that prostitution won't be added as the government's increasingly desperate search for money expands.

@Lee the Voice- "Since it's a good idea, the Feds will never do it." Again, a model of succinctness!

Andrew said...

Europe and the UK have had brutally in-your-face warnings on cigarettes for many years. Hasn't made a dent in sales, just as taxes of $5-$10 a pack never makes a dent in sales (but does guarantee the Government's vested interest in promoting smoking).
Government is like the small town corrupt sheriff who owns the brothel on the edge of town. He makes money when the johns pay his hookers and again when he busts and fines the johns on the way out.

Long term? "Smokers are Soylent Green."

Anonymous said...

@ those who've quit smoking: kudos. A former coworker said she had quit smoking and quit cocaine. She said quitting smoking was harder.

Emmentaler Limburger said...

I smoked for close to 20 years, and, back in those days, no mere picture would sway me from the burning stick. I see this as an imposition of additional burden on private industry (no surprise there, hey 0bama?) as printing photo-realistic images on any package is more costly than not. In effec, it is (yet another) a government-mandated, individual tax on cigarette producers. Bidniss as usual fo our gummint!

I've been a nonsmoker for 17 years. Don't really know why I quit, but I knwo that I stay quit for fear of getting hooked on it again...

Colby said...

Another fine example of an out of control government spending OUR money on usless things that nobody asked for and nobody wants. I suppose there might be a handful of Liberals out there who really believe this is money well spent and will save lives, but us Hope'n'changers know better.

As of July 7, I will be smoke free for 2 years after about 35 years of destroying my cardio-vascular system on a daily basis. Yep, it was EXTREMELY hard to quit, and I lost count of how many times I tried. But... when I was smoking, you could have put a picture of diseased, maggot ridden lungs on a pack of cigs, and I would have been mildly amused by the effort. Sorry, but people who think this will even slow smokers down are dumber than a bag of hammers.

Stilton, It's going to take me weeks to get rid of that image of Michael Moore in Speedos. Give me the image of maggot ridden lungs any day, but please, no more Moore.

Dave said...

@Stilt-Actually the prostitution idea would be a major money maker for the would legalizing marijuana, I personally think the marijuana should be legalized, regulated, taxed and sold like hard booze. I won't get into a huge debate but other "destructive" things are legal...tobacco, alcohol, etc. and the medical evidence also shows that marijuana has medical benefits without as many of the downfalls of either tobacco or alcohol. It isn't as addictive for one, and imagine the amount of tax money that would not only be generated but also saved if we were not incarcerating and then housing for years criminals that possessed or grew marijuana. Also as a person with some rather severe medical problems, I have been told that marijuana would help relieve some of my pain and discomfort as well as help with some other problems that currently the only way to medicate is heavy doses of addictive narcotics and other mind altering medications.....Not my cup of tea so I live with the problems and pain that could be relieved rather easily because our government is so busy trying to protect us from us!

drozz said...

don't say that too loudly. someone from the government might actually pass a law making cigarette prices match cocaine prices.

Suzy said...

Regarding abortion, not only is death cheap, but the liberals get millions of dollars from places like Planned Parenthood...its all about the money trail.

I almost wouldn't be surprised if the drug cartels are bribing Obama to lay off border security....

Follow the money. Anything that is still illegal probably hasn't offered enough money yet to Democratic campaign funds.

Pete(Detroit) said...

Quitting smokeing was DEFINATELY harder than quitting dope.
Several yars ago, I picked up a pack of CAnadian cigs (they were "better" as well as cheaper than American - if you were there anyway - notquite worth making a special trip) and they had pix of blown out lungs and hearts as a warning. Kinda gross, but didn't stop anyone that I ever heard of.

TheOldMan said...

Tobacco = legalized addiction. As for the 1998 MSA, it was a stroke of pure genius on the part of PM, RJR, and Lorrilard. At first I was aghast that they were negotiating with the enemy but then I realized the shear brilliance! In exchange for adding an addition excise fee and handing it over to the 46 states that signed the MSA, they are completely protected against Medicrap lawsuits. In addition any state AG who thinks about helping a smoker class action suit will likely be taken aside by the state controller and shown the millions of dollars that flow into the state every year from the MSA. I admit to never have smoked, to wonder about folks who willingly burn money, but I am very interested in them continuing as I am a large shareholder in Altria (the USA portion of the old PM) and PMI (the international portion). Of course some states could not wait to collect over 25 years and so securitized the income stream into bonds.

Anonymous said...

Hay I just got a note on my Yahoo page that said "This app no longer available please click here to remover it from your page" It's kindda odd how it never came up on any other app - Big Lib brother trying to censor the net again???????

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Readers- More excellent comments, and I don't really need to add anything to what you've said (except to give the old Hope n' Change "thumbs up" to those of you who've successfully kicked the habit!)

@Anonymous (above)- I have no idea why Yahoo might have a hair up its derriere, or why they'd be calling this lovely site an "app." If you continue having problems let me know, and I'll pour another drink.

JustaJeepGuy said...

@Dave, didn't the gov't take over the famed Mustang Ranch in Nevada---and LOSE MONEY? I'd bet only a government could do THAT!!

Rose said...

I just love it. Just Fabulous! What a Nail!

As always!