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Chan Lowe: Graphic cigarette warnings


Regarding the new, graphic cigarette warnings, it seems that nobody inhabiting the twisted halls of the Nanny State in Washington is thinking on all three cylinders.

First, let’s talk about young people. If you’ve ever experienced the pleasure and curse of being an adolescent boy, you know that, for this cohort, there is some inexplicable attraction to things that would cause a normal human being to retch. The more disgusting, the better, because said adolescent can show whatever it is to his friends and multiply the enjoyment. If he has a kid sister, he can use it to make her scream.

So, far from putting young males off cigarettes, the photos of human husks blowing smoke through tracheotomy holes or cadavers in morgues might actually spur them to buy more cigarettes in order to augment their collections.

Young girls, on the other hand, will simply buy a specially designed cutesy container, emblazoned with the name of some clothing retailer or studded with rhinestones, to slip over the pack of butts so they don’t have to spoil the experience of looking incredibly cool in front of their peers.

Older people are already hooked, and wouldn’t quit even if the packs came embedded with a chip that shouted, “YOU’RE GONNA DIE!” every time they pulled out a snipe. They already know smoking is bad for them, and being repeatedly reminded of that will just cause them to dig in their heels.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to figure this out. There are probably tobacco company shrinks who reached these conclusions years ago. In a reverse twist, they may feel they're throwing a bone to the smug anti-smoking forces who, thinking themselves victorious, will lay off for a while.

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Put the investigative reporters on it: 10 to 1 the idea originated with the tobacco companies for the increased sales opportunities you have just outlined.

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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