So the men at Madison Avenue must be proud. It is now clear that the allure of a cowboy leaning on a fence, breathing in fresh clean air, albeit through 1 mg of nicotine and 10 mg Tar is considerably more compelling than big bold black letters saying SMOKING KILLS. Too subtle that, as is DIE YOUNGER and HARMS YOUR BABY.
Australia has now banned labels on cigarette packets. In a year, the most exciting image that will be permitted on a plain olive pack is one of a twisted liver or a piece of charred lung, though apparently there's no requirement for the model to actually be dead first. And Scotland is following suit shortly.
The cigarette companies are objecting bitterly, now there's a surprise. They are claiming violation of their right to intellectual property or genocide or something like that. Their marketeers are crap, the labels are irrelevant, changing them will have no impact on a twelve year old. But the authorities are standing firm. This is very serious, they feel. Obviously they could ban it completely but this way only those with low IQs will kill themselves so fair enough. Unless smoking also reduces your intelligence, hmmm, let's add on a picture of a shrinking brain.
Me, I'm not sure this goes far enough. I think smokers will continue to congregate in their little pariah colonies outside buildings and restaurants and snigger at the photographs saying that's nothing, you should have seen the liver of my uncle who used to drink, now that's a real vice, I keep it in a jar on the fireplace to remind me to keep away from the alcohol. Or they will discuss the man who smoked 50 cigarettes a day, still does and has never done a day's exercise while living till 101. Of course we all know that they are talking about the same person, whose brain is kept alive in a jar with wires sticking out of in a little known hospital in Shanghai, courtesy Philip Morris.
Simple technological solutions like changing the colour of the smoke to red, or letting out a piercing whistle every time a cigarette is lit would be a waste of time too. My solution - modify the shape of each cigarette to look like a penis. That'll fix the cowboys.