Under the provisions laid out by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, packs of cigarettes will now be adorned with gruesome reminders that the Free Market doesn’t always have your best intentions in mind. Instead of the usual, lame banalities about cigarette smoke harming unborn fetuses’ or contributing to heart disease, vast swaths of the underemployed and former middle class will be confronted with images of rotting teeth, surgical scars, and smoke wafting almost artistically from a trachea. You can see a slideshow of the new images here. It’s like a serialized print version of Faces of Death, only it comes with cigarettes.
I’m not quite sure how to read the intentions here but it’s always a safe bet that when fingers of public morality start wagging, it’s usually as a sideshow to distract the poor and middle class from fighting for the bigger solutions to bigger problems. Unions almost dead? Middle class disappearing? Pollution causing tornadoes and droughts and blizzards? Education underfunded? Wall Street feeding itself on the nightmares of your children? No health care? Wait…but aren’t you a SMOKER?
But maybe it will will move some minds, change someone’s behavior, and save somebody some heartache. Hopefully. And I have to admit, I have a personal connection to warnings on cigarette packages. I was in Germany with the woman who would soon be my wife. She asked what the message on the cigarettes meant: “Rauchen kann Todlich Sein”. I told her: Smoking can kill you. She whispered under her breath, “..or make you stronger…”. That’s when I knew for certain that our love was true.
And so thinking about death in general lead me to the “place” it always does. The Wikipedia List of Unusual Deaths, a page I feel like every reader of this site should already have at least a passing familiarity with. Something you won’t find on this list though are the strange submarine deaths that have occurred over the last decade: a commander was shot dead aboard his vessel, Russians sailors were poisoned, sailors were killed by a fire suppression system, and in one of the worst naval disasters in Chinese history, over 70 sailors were killed when a “mechanical malfunction” destroyed a diesel sub. Imagine if kids had to look at pictures of amputees and flag-covered caskets before enlisting. Warning: Military Service Can Be Hazardous To Your Health.