The corpse that refreshes

The Health Nazis have tried for years to discourage cigarette smoking — at the same time they greedily seize cigarette tax revenues to plug their budget gaps, of course — by placing more and more onerous warning labels on packages, forcing smokers to huddle outside in the snow, slashing magazine revenues by barring colorful ads that once showed happy young people or cartoon characters puffing coffin nails — even barring truthful, factual ads reporting some products are less harmful, for that matter — in their endless campaign to discourage the unhealthy habit.

And I do mean endless.

For now the government is turning to gruesome pictures.

Federal health officials Wednesday unveiled plans to replace the old cigarette-pack warnings with new versions using images that could include emaciated cancer patients, diseased organs and corpses.

Public health authorities and anti-smoking advocates hailed the move as a milestone in the 50-year battle against tobacco in the United States. They’re frustrated because a stubborn one in five of adults and teens continue to exercise their free choice to smoke.

Armed with new powers approved by Congress last year, the Food and Drug Administration is proposing warnings that include one containing an image of a man smoking through a tracheotomy hole in his throat; another depicting a body with a large scar running down the chest; another showing a man who appears to be suffering a heart attack. Others could bear images of a corpse in a coffin and one with a toe tag in a morgue, diseased lungs and mouths and a mother blowing smoke into a baby’s face.

The new warnings will cover half the front and back of each pack and 20 percent of each large ad — as though any “ads” will remain.

Yes! This is great! I suggest cigarette manufacturers place serrations around these images so they can be cut out, saved, and traded like sports cards. Just as artificial rarity can be imposed on any market by manufacturing only a limited number of a given variety, kids in all likelihood would soon be bidding up prices on e-Bay for “the limited edition green Newport corpse” or the rare “inverted toe-tag Winston morgue misprint.”

In fact, federal drug regulators agree with me. Back in 1992, the BATF blocked importation of a Belgian vodka called “Black Death” and sold in a box shaped like a black coffin, arguing this ghoulish packaging would be “too attractive to kids.” (The importer later won on appeal.)

Nor should the gubbimint stop here. When Democrats are in power, cartoons next to the names of Republican candidates on the ballot could show corporate fat cats in their fancy limousines running over starving waifs and old people, just to help voters “get the picture.” Then, when the GOP holds office, cartoons next to the names of Democratic candidates could show union bosses, trial lawyers, and Federal Reserve bankers lighting fat cigars with looted greenbacks as they use naked, starving taxpayers as footstools and ashtrays.

Sugary soda pop labels? They could be required to show the bloated corpses of diabetes victims with amputated feet.

“When the rule takes effect, the health consequences of smoking will be obvious every time someone picks up a pack of cigarettes,” gloats FDA Commissioner Margaret Humbug.

No, no, “Hamburg.” Sorry, the lady’s name is Hamburg. Honest.

Now, hamburg labels. That’s a thought. Give me a minute, here …

5 Comments to “The corpse that refreshes”

  1. Lava Says:

    Kids used to collect awful cards, parodies of product advertisement (Neveready batteries), and parodies of baseball cards.

    Soda warning labels are fair. It’s nasty, but only fair after years of warning people against fresh, wholesome, nutritious milk and now, fresh fruit juice! Still, to be truly evenhanded there should be warnings on “diet” sodas (with aspartame, etc) “warning, this stuff can make you fat” or “this product contains ingredients known to cause neurological damage”.

    Something that irks me is that non-property owners can no longer smoke in their home. People that make these laws can smoke at home – because they own it, and at the bar – if it is a private club. Whom the law is imposed on can not smoke at home – it’s against the landlord’s rules, nor at their private smoking club&bar – the gub’bmint has decided that their club is not a private business. It can not practice discrimination in employment – hire only folks who accept smoking. It can not decide who enters the place of business – “anti smokers not welcome”. At least that’s what I gather from the news. Finally, one such bar owner was prohibited from organizing it as a club.

  2. Stephen R Says:

    I believe it was Australia that implemented graphics very similar to this on cigarette packaging. The first thing that popped into my my mind then, as now, is “Well, this ought to spur the sale of cigarette cases.”

  3. Bruce D Says:

    Not sure I agree with you there, Vin. I don’t think they’ve taken it far enough – they just have the wrong product. How about a voting ballot that shows politicians stealing candy from babies, picking pockets, stealing cars or maybe mugging people and using a calculator to figure out what percentage they should take. Maybe one with someone sitting on the curb with all their belongings out on the lawn with a politician taking their cash and giving it to a banker.

  4. Mike Blessing’s Heresies and Blasphemies Says:

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  5. Burke101 Says:

    The tobacco industry ought to come out for legalization of hemp, then stop growing tobacco (thereby denying tobacco taxes to the government), and start pushing cannabis cigarettes. That would drive the politicians crazy.