Thursday, 21 January 2010

Smokers and death.

Yes, it's an ashtray and yes they are skulls and yes the inscription does say 'see you later'.

It's my favourite ashtray, pictured after its annual proper cleaning (rather than just emptying). I've had it for years and I bought it because it was funny. If I recall correctly it was advertised as 'an aid to giving up smoking'.

Over at Dick Puddlecote's there are images of what cigarette packs would look like if they were 'made really scary'. I'd buy them. In fact I'd revel in them. Dick reports on the story Giolla mentioned in comments a few posts back. I was going to have a go but Dick's already said all there is to say.

Put more skulls and corpses on cigarettes. The more the better. We'll laugh at them and delight in them. They will not put us off buying tobacco, they will make us buy it all the more.

Does this mean that smokers are intrepid, heroic people who know not the meaning of fear? No it does not. It means that smokers don't care about the warnings because we know they are only put there by people who are permanently scared of everything. It means smokers don't spend every waking minute worried about dying of something. It is not that we want to die, it is not some kind of slow-motion death-wish, it's that we just aren't permanently terrified.

We are also not scared by odd and uncertain associations. There was a review, in last week's New Scientist, of a book written by a doctor in the 1950's who linked smoking with the sudden surge in cases of lung cancer. Sounds plausible until you stop and think for a moment. The surge in lung cancer happened in the 1950's. Now, by no stretch of the imagination could anyone claim that Francis Drake's voyages happened shortly before that. Nor that nobody smoked in the 1920's. I'm not saying smoking cannot cause lung cancer - any foreign chemical taken into your lungs has the potential to do it - but I am saying that most of the links are based on some pretty shaky science. There were many more pollutants in the air in 1950 than just tobacco smoke. There still are. Frank Davis covered this nicely, some time ago.

I smoke and I'm going to die one day. Every smoker is going to die. Actually, not all that many of us die of something horrible. Most of us just get old and die.

So is every non-smoker. Even those who have never breathed a single molecule of tobacco smoke. Some of them will die of something horrible too. Some will die of lung cancer and blame smokers. They'll blame the little roll of burning leaves, not the log fire, the bonfire, the traffic fumes or anything else. There's really nothing in tobacco smoke that's not also in all those other things other than nicotine - and nicotine at that concentration is not harmful. At all. If it were, then selling much higher concentrations in stick-on patches and gum would be illegal. Well, it no longer matters how the non-smokers die. They'll blame smokers for it anyway.

We all die. There is nothing anyone can do to stop it and nobody knows when it'll happen so just forget about it and get on with enjoying whatever time you have.

And while you're doing that, leave me alone to enjoy whatever time I have.

But please, put more skulls and coffins on the packets. They look great.


Amusing Bunni said...

That's a cool ashtray, Leg Iron, when I used to smoke, I didn't care how many warnings and all there were. I quit a few years ago, because it's SO expensive out here, and I just got tired of it...I still bum an occasional one when I'm out at the "drinky place", after too many drinkies.

You are right, we're going to die someday anyway, so might as well do what makes you happy while your here. Those were cool pacs! Is that a photoshop, or are they really selling those?

JuliaM said...

"Over at Dick Puddlecote's there are images of what cigarette packs would look like if they were 'made really scary'. I'd buy them. In fact I'd revel in them."

I can put you down for one of these, then?

Bless her little heart...

Diesel said...

Back in the 90's there was a cigarette brand called "Death". Black packaging, skull and crossbones on the front. Of course I tried them, the warnings etc make no difference.

They proved to be unsuccessful, with the manufacturer claiming "interference from competitors".

The truth is that they didn't fail from interference, they didn't fail because of the look of the packaging (looked even more foreboding than the suggested images on DP's site).

They failed cos they tasted like shite.

Just Peachie said...

When I was 12 a visiting nurse brought half a man to our school - half a plastic see-through man. Through his clear plastic chest you could see his lovely clean lungs. She put a cig in his mouth, lit it, and he actually smoked it. Amazing. His lovely clean lungs of course turned all dirty.

As a teen I was constantly offered smokes, but I could never get Mr. Clear Plastic Half Man's lungs out of my mind. I never took up smoking.

The point is that if you want to scare people, robotic half-men with their innards grotesquely exposed is probably more effective that artsy cig packs.

Ed P said...

A lot of the noxious chemicals you inhale come from the paper, not the tobacco. That's partly why pipe & cigar smokers have different incidences of lung diseases. If you roll your own, try hemp papers, which are from a pure plant source, made without need for the chemical binders used in cigarette paper manufacture.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Top drawer as always. And not saying that just cos you linked ... honest. :-)

Smoking used to be cool thanks to the celluloid portrayal by the 40s and 50s Hollywood stars. Then, when the dangers were known in the early 60s, it was cool as it was a signal of rebellion and being 'hard'.

That is only bolstered by the graphics, but since the smoking ban, youngsters can now rebel even more as it is doing what they have been told not to. Hence the rise in youth smoking in Ireland and Scotland.

The best health warning to stop kids smoking would be an understated "Your parents think smoking is cool". But anti-smokers aren't too clever.

wv: skinta - not if you buy them abroad. ;-)

James said...

Hi Legiron

How do we get in contact with you?


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