January 28, 2000
To combat smoking Health Minister Allan Rock is going to make
cigarette companies put graphic images on the packs. These include
diseased brains, sick lungs and other things that are supposed
to turn kids off smoking.
I personally think kids smoke precisely because it is dangerous,
and gross pictures won't turn them off cigarettes. It's a well
known fact that teenagers are attracted to dangerous and scary
things - pet ferrets, snowboarding, tongue rings, and Jewel's
poetry to name a few.
I'm worried the whole thing may backfire and they'll become
hot trading cards. I can see them in the school yard at lunch:
"I'll trade you three brain tumours for your sickly pancreas.
It's all I need to complete the set."
Robert Parker, President of the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturing
Association (for some reason not known as the CanToManAss)
has already warned that if we're going to slap vivid warnings
on cigarette packs, then we better be prepared to put them on
other things that are dangerous to our health.
After all, we're already used to drugs with warnings. The
box of my sinus medication tells me I shouldn't operate heavy
machinery. Or be nursing. Or both.
It makes me wonder how much machinery should weigh before
it's considered heavy. I've tried to convince my wife that it
means I shouldn't try to do any laundry. The washing machine
must weigh at least 500 pounds.
But putting mandatory labels on dangerous or offensive things
got me thinking about how else it might work
Some liquor already carries warning labels about it being
no good for pregnant women. There is still plenty of room left
on bottles for more serious warnings, like: "Caution - The
person you're planning on going home with is not as attractive
as you think right now."
Forget about the danger of frying your brains - cell phones
could carry an important warning label: "This phone does
not make you look as important as you think it does." Or
how about: "Warning - Using this phone in a movie theatre
could result in serious injury from the big guy in the next row."
For a while everyone was putting labels in their car windows,
like: "Baby on Board", or "Nothing to Lose - Take
Your Best Shot." For some reason it was always the guy with
the Baby on Board sign that passed you on the shoulder doing
I think mini vans should have a big sticker in the showroom:
"Caution: Buying a van does not oblige you to fill it with
broken crackers and fighting children."
Toupees should carry a label. It could say: "You will
not fool anyone by wearing this." An alternate could be:
"Face up to being bald and accept it with dignity."
Or: "Remember, Patrick Stewart gets boatloads of chicks."
The United Alternative convention should carry a warning label.
There should be a great big "Caution - Contents Under Extreme
Pressure" sign over the podium.
The camera store should put a warning on all batches of developed
baby pictures: "Please be advised that your friends are
not as interested in your baby pictures as they may seem. They
are just being polite, since all babies pretty much look like
Finally, maybe marriage licenses should have inch tall red
letters on the back: "To be used only under adult supervision.
Improper use can be hazardous to your health. Correct use will
bring significant benefits."