Jewish World Review July 1, 2011 / 29 Sivan, 5771
Collect All Nine! Trade 'Em with Friends!
By Greg Crosby
All you have to do is buy a pack of cigarettes starting in October 2012 (just in time for Halloween!) and your collection has begun. Each and every pack will have you retching at the sight of one of nine repulsive images, like a man exhaling smoke through a hole in his neck. And remember, along with each graphic image, you get at no extra cost cheerful kernels of wisdom such as "SMOKING CAN KILL YOU." The pictures are in glorious color and are suitable for framing. Collect all nine or swap with your friends for baseball cards.
In the latest Big Brother nanny state move by the Feds, the Food and Drug Administration has mandated that these new warning labels must be in place by 2012. American Cancer Society CEO John R. Seffrin is satisfied with the new labels and says they can "encourage adults to give up their deadly addiction to cigarettes and deter children from starting in the first place." Do you really think so? Thank you, oh wise and powerful federal government. Our tax dollars at work.
Allow me to state for the record, before all the hate mail starts rolling in, that I do not advocate smoking cigarettes. I'm a former cigarette smoker, having smoked for much of my adult life before I finally quit 15 years ago. And I'm glad I did. But I quit because I realized that given my family's history with cancer, it wasn't a very smart idea to smoke cigarettes. I didn't need big government to "draw me a picture."
I always knew that cigarettes were not good for my health, we all knew that. People knew that fifty and sixty years ago. Not long ago I was watching an old movie from the 30's where one of the characters starts coughing after taking a drag on a butt, and another character turns to him and says, "You really ought to quit those things. They're not good for you." Oh yes, people have known that cigarette smoking is unhealthy for many decades.
And believe me; every school kid today knows this all too well. It's drilled into kids from the minute they enter grade school. Kids have been taught that cigarette smoking is just about the worst thing any person can do. Never mind having babies out of wedlock, never mind zero moral standards, destruction of private property, or even smoking dope, none of those trump cigarettes as humanity's biggest evil.
But there's the thing, in a free society, unless something is flat-out illegal, people should have the option to pursue their own personal eating, drinking, and smoking habits without interference. Our own private, small indulgences are our own business and government should keep their nose (and my tax dollars) out of them. I love how liberals believe in a woman's right to have abortions on demand (and with government funding), but some poor guy can't smoke his pipe on a park bench.
Listen, lots of things can be bad for you if done to excess. Drinking, eating, even physical exercise can be harmful depending on your individual health status. You've got to use common sense and make the right choice for yourself. And along with common sense, common courtesy is something that individuals need to employ for themselves, it should not be the government's job. You can't legislate courtesy (well, I guess you can, but in a free country you shouldn't).
The less big government has to do with our private lives, the better. But the federal government now demands that tobacco companies devote at least half of the space on the cigarette pack to grotesque graphic pictures.
Where does government stop with this stuff? How long will it be before government makes fast-food restaurants post color pictures of clogged arteries, open-heart surgery, and morbidly obese people next to the menus for double cheese burgers and French fries? And what about pictures on liquor bottles and beer cans depicting diseased livers, drunks vomiting in gutters, and mangled dead bodies on the freeway?
When the Feds require that automotive makers paste pictures of melting polar icecaps on the windows of SUVs, when they demand that supermarkets post photos above the meat case of cattle being slaughtered, and when they mandate that all smokers be sent to reeducation camps, then maybe, just maybe it might dawn on more of us where this country is headed.
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© 2008, Greg Crosby