Does the Emphysema Come in Menthol?

Starting in 2013, every pack of cigarettes sold in the U.S. will include graphic images portraying the physical effects of smoking, although looking really cool when you're a teenager won’t be one of them. I’ll probably get a first glimpse when I step outside the office for my daily dose of second-hand smoke, thoughtfully provided by the one remaining addict who has so far resisted my intense campaign against the practice.

There used to be a group of smokers at the front entrance, working collaboratively to induct nonsmokers into their demographic of future emphysema sufferers. But after months of merciless debasement from me -- including once spraying air freshener into their midst -- they changed their self-destructive habits and are now living happy, smoke-free lives. Or they just moved around the corner. All but the one holdout, a stone-faced man of the muscular persuasion who, between mumbling to himself in a deep baritone and glancing around threateningly, seems more likely to crush me like a Marlboro hard pack than discuss his impact on the nation's health-care system.

I wonder if his attitude will change when he buys his first pack of cigarettes with the picture of a dead man on a morgue table, his bare chest crudely stitched up from neck to waist. He was presumably the victim of a lifetime of smoking, not to mention a hasty autopsy. (Either that, or somewhere there's a Home Depot manager trying to forget a chain-saw demonstration that could have gone better.)

The new labels will include close-up images of rotting teeth, unsightly cancer lesions, and decayed internal organs, as well as pictures of a woman dying of cancer, a guy smoking through a hole in his neck, and Michele Bachmann taking the oath of office. Okay, I made up the last one, although that would definitely make me stop smoking. And start drinking.

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