Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Your Lungs Are Not Important

Cigarette companies have been waging a public relations battle against those who claim cigarettes are addictive and cause cancer in humans. Typically, they defend their industry by stating that no irrefutable scientific evidence has been presented to support either claim. Inevitably, they trot out their own paid scientists who declare that they have been unable to establish a cause-and-effect link between smoking and lung cancer. This argument carries as much weight with me as the proponents of "intelligent design" who are terrified that Darwin might be right.

Both of my parents smoked when I was a kid. My father eventually quit, but my mother smoked until my father was unable to care for her and we had to put her in a nursing home, which did not permit smoking indoors. Because she was confined to a bed, she spent her remaining years desperately craving cigarettes. Whenever we would visit her, there was nothing that pleased her more than to be lifted out of bed, put into a wheelchair, and wheeled outside for a smoke. She eventually passed away, but not from cancer.

I play pool in a league on Monday nights. There are lots of smokers in the pool hall where I play, and the pool hall has lots of bulky, heavy-duty air filters installed to dispose of the smoke for the benefit of the non-smokers. Every so often, representatives from the R.J. Reynolds tobacco company show up to hand out free packs of cigarettes to those who want them. The smokers stroll up to get their free cigarettes, then they scour the pool hall for non-smokers such as me. The smoker who finds me asks me if I’ll go up and get another handout of free cigarettes, doubling their take for the night.

I usually comply, as a simple friendly courtesy. The R.J. Reynolds representative has a portable scanner that they use to scan my driver’s license. As a result, I get lots of junk mail from R.J. Reynolds. It’s usually fairly modest marketing crap, but yesterday, this 5-inch square box came in the mail:

cig_package


The box consisted of a sleeve, which when removed, revealed this tray:

cig_tray


Inside the tray was a package:

cig_box


Inside the package was a cigarette box:

cig_box_open


Inside the cigarette box was a “buy one get one free” cigarette coupon:

cig_coupon


I’m not saying that cigarettes are addictive, although I believe that. I’m not saying cigarettes cause cancer, although I believe that as well. But I think the evidence in this package is sufficient enough to say that the R.J. Reynolds company doesn’t care one little bit about your lungs, because they’re perfectly willing to cut down oxygen-producing trees in huge numbers just to get you to buy one pack of cigarettes.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

Well, that solves the mystery of why I used to get those same promotional items in the mail. That's what we get for being nice, I guess.

I'm just picturing the actual smokers who received this same box thinking they've hit the Camel mother-load jack pot, only to be disappointed when the big box turns into a slightly smaller box, which turns into an even smaller box, which opens to a cigarette box... but instead of cigarettes they get a coupon. What a bummer that must be. If someone sent me a big box with a "Ghirardelli" label on it that has the same scam, I know I would be pretty pissed to find the last box only contained a "coupon" for chocolate!!! :)