I’m a non-smoker and I have been for around 2 years. I smoked my first cigarette at 15; I stole it from my Dads pack of Silk Cuts when I stayed at his house one weekend. I smoked full time when I was 19 because I was in university and thought I was cool because I hadn’t long had sex for the first time and finally had enough hair on my chin that other people could comfortably call the slightly-more-than-bum-fluff-but-hardly-an-actual-goatee display on my face ‘facial hair’ without feeling like they were doing charity work. I quit at the age of 21 because along with the beer, processed food and occasional joint it was becoming hard to run without Pro-Plus. Before starting again at 22 and stopping at 23 and a half at the behest of a work colleague that I wanted to sleep with. I never got to but the sentiment seems to have stuck.
Sorry about the abrupt opening but I just wanted to make the above information clearer than Walter White’s Blue Meth before I hit the topic at hand; cigarette label warnings. Since 2003, all EU nations have made it compulsory for cigarette brands to clearly display the health risks that come with smoking in large black font text, sometimes in multiple languages to be easily legible for every speaker of every spoken language in the country in question, embarrassingly enough they aren’t printed in Welsh in these here parts. I’m absolutely fine with this because anyone who can walk, talk, see, and hear, smell or breathe that’s older than 8 will tell you smoking carries health risks.
However, what really makes these warnings catch the eye and sometimes the stomach if you’re the sort of person that gets nauseous whilst watching Casualty is the accompanying images. They include pictures of people in Darth Sidious style make-up, or maybe it’s real I don’t know, to illustrate effects on the skin and images of blackened and tar smothered lungs, for obvious reasons.
I’m okay with the images as well. Back when I smoked having a packet in my pocket with one of those images so close to my nuts was never really an issue and I understood the health implications, just like I did with regards to alcohol.
Which leads me to my gripe; cigarettes are not the only dangerous thing that is openly, not to mention legally available. These warnings and images are placed on cigarette packets in order to sway people from using them due to the health risks. So surely on that basis it would make logical sense to have just as, if not more, graphic images on other items for the same reason?
Why are there no images of damaged livers or people on A&E wards due to drunken incidents on alcohol packaging and why doesn’t every burger that you buy from a fast-food chain not have a warning related to obesity and an image of people who, with all due respect, are overweight on its packaging and how about pictures related to dental issues on soft drink bottles?
Hell, why stop with things we eat and drink? How about a warning and image on the front of every tanning bed in the country regarding skin cancer or one on the front of every gym steam room explaining that they can be a breeding ground for germs and fungal infections as well as persistent use carrying the risk of lowering fertility?
Maybe this reads a little heavy-handed but I distinctly remember enjoying an L&B after a night-out and a fellow reveller chastising me for my ‘stupid’, ‘foolish’ and money-wasting addiction that was only going to affect my health. Don’t get me wrong this lady was spot on in her observation but when she came stumbling over to me looking like a sun-tanned version of one of those pink hippo’s from Fantasia and had a VK Orange in one hand and a Doner Wrap in the other it all felt a little ironic. Maybe instead of pointing out the flaws of smokers and maybe even somewhat vilifying them for their perceived stupidity we should take a look at other habits of the western world and think about their harmful implications. Even if they aren’t rammed down our throats they are still just as real.
I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.