When This Is, That Is

Exploring the world of conditionality

Make Chest X-Rays Mandatory for Cigarette and Cigar Purchases

Photo: Wikimedia

In 2011 the Food and Drug Administration ruled that cigarette makers put one of nine graphic images on each pack of cigarettes for sale in the United States. The purpose was to warn people of the deadly dangers of tobacco use. The ghastly images—meant to dissuade people from smoking—were to be in use by October of 2012.

In February, however, a federal judge ruled the images unconstitutional. This is a travesty, an abomination.

Smoking kills. We know that. People who smoke are slowly killing themselves. They also are slowly killing those around them who are unfortunately forced to inhale clouds of carcinogenic smoke. We have to stop this.

Click image to see all nine

But I think the government’s anti-smoking campaigns are. That’s because our perceptions have all along been misguided. For example, the tamest of the nine images says, “Warning: Tobacco smoke can harm your children.” That’s cloudy thinking.

The truth is, smoke and smoking don’t kill people. People who smoke kill people.

Is it too harsh to say smoking is not only a crime but is a sin? I don’t think so. It may not be among the biblical lists of things that evokes God’s wrath, but I think it’s safe to say God would agree that taking a life through the deliberate act of smoking is just as bad as any other way. More than anything else, this is a religious problem

We must stop these suicides and homicides. So here’s my proposal: Enact a law to make chest x-rays mandatory before purchasing of a pack of cigarettes or cigars. After the x-ray, you must then sit down with a radiologist, a cancer specialist, and a counselor. You will then be issued a certificate with a date and time stamp. After a reasonable waiting period of 24 hours (per pack or single cigar), you may present your certificate and buy your tobacco product.

I can see right off that there are some logistical and ethical problems with my plan. But I’m a big-idea person. I leave it up the lawmakers and attorneys to close the loopholes and sort through these relatively minor concerns. After all, the purpose here is to save lives. 

As I said, this is a religious and moral issue. I call on clergymen and clergywomen across the country to use their positions of influence to speak out against this dreadful scourge. Frankly, I have no idea why they haven’t been doing this all along. Perhaps they just haven’t thought about it. 

It’s terribly unfortunate that trafficking in tobacco is legal in this country. Yes, I know it goes back to colonial days, and smoking is part of the American psyche. But in this case our founders were very misguided. It’s time we got on the right track.

Disclaimer: I used to smoke. But I haven’t for more than 20 years. Make of that what you will.

6 Responses to Make Chest X-Rays Mandatory for Cigarette and Cigar Purchases

  1. @TWF: Even people who know me well are sometimes taken aback by my sense of humor (which is sometimes perceived as not so humorous). And thanks for the compliment.

    @Sabio: You are right. I don’t want to be paying for someone else’s sinfulness. My own is costly enough.

  2. Sabio Lantz says:

    Since Emergency Departments have an unfunded mandate to take care of people, I think the same damn mandator (the government) should but a clause in there that mandates a blood test to screen smokers and say that smokers do not have the right to free medical care for their respiratory diseases.

  3. Doh! Sorry I was too slow to catch that it was satire! I guess I’ve bumped into too many people with extreme views, and I am somewhat new to your blog. I’ll try harder next time.

    But now that you mention it, I sure am glad it was satire. 🙂 As I re-read it with that in mind, it’s pretty good.

  4. TWH, my mother had emphysema too because of her smoking from an early age. Once upon a time it was a fashion statement and a mark of independence and modernity.

    And my children, most of them anyway, had a similar experience as you described while coming to visit me post-divorce. One of them would go so far as to pull his shirt up over his nose when smoke was in the air.

    But this post is not really about smoking. It’s satire.

    Daniel, you are right. I’m pleased that you got it.It’s a theme I’ve been thinking about for quite a while—given recent events in the news and elsewhere.

  5. Dan Gerhards says:

    Clever. This is something I could see being reported in the Onion.

  6. My father and step-mother were chain smokers for a while. I used to loathe their smoking when it was time for me to be there, per the joint custody agreement following my parent’s divorce. I’d open the door of there apartment and there would be a wall of smoke. It was intense and horrible, and my skin and clothing reeked after being inside there.

    Later in life, I watched my mother-in-law die from emphysema. She had smoked since she was in her teens. Once she was diagnosed, she quit smoking that day, and commented that if she had known it would be that easy to quit, she would had done it long ago. But it was too late. Within a couple months I watched her body mechanically struggle for its last few breaths until it could gasp no more.

    So there is a side of me which strongly agrees with your sentiment here, event if smokers might die from radiation poisoning faster than the cigarettes would kill them. However, I think such an act might be bordering on trying to eliminate stupidity through legislation.

    Smoking does kill people, but slowly so. If you are looking at it religiously, perhaps you could say that a smoker has a long time to repent before irreversible consequences. In fact, my father and step-mother turned their lives around too, like you, and have kicked the habit completely.

    Alcohol is a much worse threat, in that regard. Nobody ever died from “binge smoking” that I know of, but the same could not be said of alcohol. And while the drunk can get plastered without necessarily causing harm to anyone else, an intoxicated person on the road is a huge risk to other people.

    If I were to propose a law, it would be that smokers have to make a verbal proclamation before every purchase, something like:
    “I would like to purchase these cigarettes. I am fully aware that smoking can adversely affect my health and the health of those I smoke around, such as by causing cancer.”

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