Monday, November 15, 2010

No Shit Sherlock

Instead of the modest and by now familiar surgeon general's warning, the new labels use coffins, diseased lungs and rotting teeth to drive home the health effects of tobacco. The language makes clear that cigarettes are addictive; cause cancer, heart disease and strokes; harm children; and "can kill you."

Does anybody think that there is a single smoker out there who does not know cigarettes "are addictive; cause cancer, heart disease and strokes; harm children; and "can kill you?"

Now, the most reasonable response, as far as FLG can see, is, hey, we're just changing the packaging. It's no big deal, so why worry about it?

Fair enough, but if it's no big deal, then why do it? This isn't a problem of communication. If you want to lower smoking rates, then raise cigarette taxes. But you have to understand that no matter what happens some people are going to smoke. Even if you made them completely illegal, some people are still going to smoke.

Now, you might be saying, why's your dander all up about packaging, FLG? What's the big deal?

It's a complicated answer, but mostly the issue is that the entire idea rests upon a variety of assumptions that FLG finds contemptuous. First, that people are stupid. Everybody knows smoking is bad. Second, and building on the first, it embodies the idea that longer life is always better no matter what must be foregone. Now, in the case of smoking, FLG's personal opinion is that he'd rather live longer than smoke, which is why he quit a couple years back. But he ain't gonna give up steak no matter how many people on TV talk about the horrible health effects of red meat. Third, it reminds FLG how much he hates the sanctimoniousness of public health officials. Given that they have dedicated their careers to health, one must assume that they think IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT. And, yes, health is really important, but so are other things. Health officials would have us living in a completely funless, joyless, and ultimately lifeless world if it meant maximizing health outcomes. These arguments happen at the margin, and each time it seems like such a insignificant intrusion. Smoking, seat belt laws, bike helmet laws, banning lawn darts and chefs knives. Life involves risks, and we can't remove them all. Trying to is both futile and stupid. Lastly, this label change is one of those cheap, stupid, therapeutic things people do to make themselves feel better about themselves. In this case, by people FLG means health officials and busybody do-gooders in our society. The people that'll say, it can't hurt and if it stops one person from smoking, then it was worth it.

Here's another example of what gets FLG pissed from
Dr. Michael Siegel of the Boston University School of Public Health says Connolly makes a good point. “While I certainly think it’s a good idea to have these graphic warning labels, I do not actually think it’s going to have much of an impact,’’ he said.

Okay, let me get this straight. According to the author, Dr. Siegel made a good point when he said it's a good idea to do something that isn't going to work very well, if at all?

Listen fucktards, FLG's definition of a good idea is one THAT WILL WORK WELL! Things that won't work well are, pretty much by definition, bad ideas! Therefore, saying that doing something that won't work is a good idea is not a good point. It's an idiotic one. And we look to these people as experts?


George Pal said...

Once you’ve made it known that A, B, and C, are bad for you for X, Y, and Z, reasons, there’s really nothing left to be done but look like a clown with too much time and nothing to fill it. Retire the Surgeon General and spare everyone the burlesque. You can pack my Luckies and Monte Cristos in diseased lung tissue and I’m still smokin’ ‘em if I got ‘em.

The Ancient said...

Assuming the worst about the graphic images they use -- toe tags etc. -- I think this will do little more than revive the cigarette case industry. (Eighty or 90 years ago, nearly everyone had a case; it wouldn't take much to bring this back into practice.)

P.S. Back when I smoked, many decades ago, I was at the house of a now-eminent biologist. After dinner, he said "Ancient, come up to my office. There's something I brought home to show you." Once there, he popped open a metal briefcase. "You see that? It's the lung of a 50-year old man who died of lung cancer. I thought you should see it." (I have no idea how he pulled this off, but it did have the intended effect. Eventually.)

arethusa said...

I think there is something to be said for a more graphic message than the Surgeon General's warning, which is just words. People do respond to images better than words, especially younger people (because they're all visual learners now, dontcha know?).

I've never smoked because of an experience similar to the Ancient's: as a young child I was shown X-rays of smokers' lungs. As a consequence, I've never been tempted even to try smoking.

Anonymous said...

Ok- I'll go along with graphic warning labels on cigarette packages as long as we can have equally graphic warning labels on abortions -images of what could happen to both the mother and the unborn child.

Mrs. P

Anonymous said...

FLG, different topic -thought you'd get a kick out of the Christine O'Donnell slam here :

As even Freud conceded, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes a drubbing is just a drubbing. Accept no spinning: This was a bloodbath. You almost had to be Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell or Nevada’s Sharron Angle to lose as a Republican. A gain of at least 61 in the House, the largest swing since 1948 and the largest in a midterm election since 1938, and a gain of six in the Senate. The tsunami swamped not only the halls of Congress but also the statehouses and state legislatures. (These are crucial nationally because they control electoral redistricting.) Nor was there a rage against incumbents. Incumbent Republicans in Congress sat pretty. All but two survived, while more than 50 sitting Democrats perished. In softball, they’d invoke the mercy rule.

True, midterm elections don’t usually predict the ensuing presidential ones. Still, it’s clear the Democrats have two big problems. One is Barack Obama. The other is his program...

Rest here:

( I love the headline)

Mrs. P

Alan Howe said...

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act passed by pretty wide margins in both the House and Senate, so Obama (still a smoker) could not have vetoed the act. Nor, in that climate, could his administration failed to comply with the law.

Any law that makes kids hesitate to pick up the addiction is good law in my mind.

FLG said...


First, I wasn't arguing the political realities of the issue. I was saying I think it's stupid.

And to your point about "Any law that makes kids hesitate to pick up the addiction is good law in my mind." It's already illegal for a kid to buy cigarettes.

Andrew Stevens said...

Any law that makes kids hesitate to pick up the addiction is good law in my mind.

That's precisely the attitude that I don't like. These sorts of health crusades are used to justify large amounts of simply outrageous behavior, almost always justified with "doing it for the children" rhetoric.

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