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“Truth” in Advertising?

By: Paxton Sawyer

Copyright©  2010

All rights reserved 

There is an advertisement currently on television depicting a whole bunch of people gathered in front of an office building and then they all fall down pretending to be dead. The ad then shows a woman holding a sign that reads:

“Cigarettes kill 1200 people a day.”

The ad is sponsored by a company called “Truth” according to the ad.

The problem is that the ad is not true.

Cigarettes have never “killed” anyone. Cigarettes cause the accumulation of substances in the body that are not good for the human body, they burn the linings of the mouth and tongue and weaken the body’s immune system. Smoking increases the odds that a disease or condition will shorten your life. But cigarettes do not kill.

Words mean things. Even though we live in a sound bite world, words should be correctly used.

If those who are opposed to cigarettes are not required to tell the truth in their advertising against tobacco companies then why are tobacco companies held liable for not telling the truth about their products? Shouldn’t the same rules apply to everyone?

It is also unfortunate that our legal system allows the substitution of emotion for proper, reasoned judgment. The hazards of cigarettes have been known for decades. In the 1960’s, a comedian named Brother Dave Gardner recorded a live comedy album. During his routine he paused to light a cigarette and he said: “People say you smoke so much, you smoke so much, you’ll kill yourself. No, I won’t. I might hurt my body but I won’t kill myself.”

Not only was it a good line, it is precisely correct. Cigarettes hurt the body. They do not kill.

I am a reformed smoker. I smoked Marlboro cigarettes at the rate of a pack a day for the majority of my life. I quit three years ago. I quit because I was ready to quit. When you are ready to quit, quitting smoking is fairly easy. When you are not ready, it doesn’t matter what you try. You are unlikely to succeed.

I want to apologize to all those I offended by my smoking. I did not smoke in my house or in my office, I seldom smoked in restaurants and I did not smoke in my car with the windows rolled up. I knew that the smell of cigarettes was offensive and I didn’t even like the smell of cigarettes. But I loved the taste of cigarettes. Once I quit, I really got the full effect of how bad cigarettes really do smell. And I understand why non-smokers do not want to be exposed to the offensive odors produced by cigarettes.

The hazards attributed to second hand smoke are vastly over-rated. The report by the World Health Organization on second hand smoke, which was not reported in this country because it did not conform to the politically correct point of view, noted that people exposed to second hand smoke often build immunities to the effects of cigarette smoke much like immunizations build immunities to diseases.

Not all people who smoke have their lives appreciably shortened by smoking. And people who never smoke die of diseases associated with smoking, such as lung cancer. One of my grandfathers, who lived in an era where the gentlemen smoked cigars and drank brandy after dinner, so detested the smell of tobacco that he would not partake in the ritual and went outside or to bed so that he would not have to breathe the smoke.

He died of lung cancer.

I know this is sad news but, we are all going to die. Statistically, you can do things that may lengthen or shorten your life. No one knows exactly how long you will live no matter what you do.

It is sad to note that if you led the perfect life, someday you would be lying in a hospital bed dying of nothing. But you are going to die.

For those of you who want to make cigarettes illegal, you might want to look at illegal drugs or illegal immigration or even back at prohibition to see how well those things work. All you would accomplish by making cigarettes illegal is to create a new black market and new tobacco cartels and gangs. In case you are not clear on the concept of your ability to stop cigarette use, remember that we can’t even keep illegal drugs out of prisons. I do find it interesting that when I go to rock concerts in outdoor arenas, people smoking cigarettes are taken out of the arena and arrested. Those passing and smoking marijuana joints, which is illegal and the money from illegal drug use supports drug cartels, violence, murder and terrorists, are unmolested.

Of course, laws have been passed to limit where cigarettes can be smoked. Laws have even been passed that tell business owners that they have to create an unfriendly environment for their patrons who smoke.

Because smoking annoys people.

This is really outrageous when you consider it. One group of tax payers has instituted laws that prohibit the practice of the use of a legal substance because it annoys. Businesses are forced by rule of enforceable law to run their business in a certain manner even though the business owner may face the loss of his business and monetary investment, not to mention his time and effort, because of an annoyance.

Why cannot people who object to smoking open and operate their own business and make the business decision that they will not allow smoking in their establishments? Why do these people not have the courage of their convictions whether or not their business may suffer financially? Why must they force everyone else to behave as they wish so that they are not inconvenienced?

If I were to open a restaurant, or if I ever get enough money to buy enough politicians, here are some things I would prohibit in my world.

1) Coffee. Coffee nauseates me and I find the smell repulsive.

2) Children. So happy that you wanted to breed. So sorry that you do not have the inner strength to be a parent. Children require discipline. The verse in the Bible “spare the rod, spoil the child” is not saying that this is a good thing. It is saying that if you do not discipline your children you will raise spoiled rotten little brats. I have actually witnessed children running and playing in restaurants who have caused waiters and patrons to fall. And the parents of these wild animals laugh and say ‘Isn’t that cute’. No, it’s not. If you are not going to be a parent, don’t breed. But there would be no children in my restaurant. In any event, why are children and breeders (few of you are parents) not segregated into sound proof rooms in public facilities and businesses? Your brats are a greater immediate hazard to life and limb than smoking is and the noise and havoc they create are just as detrimental to my long term sanity and health as smoking is. And no, your children’s right to be a pain does not exceed my right to have a pleasant dining experience. And I am paying for the meal and the experience, your brat of a kid is not.

3) Perfume. A little light application of a fragrance is fine. But, if I can smell you from three feet away, you can’t come in.

4) Speaking with food in your mouth or chewing with your mouth open. Besides being disgusting, don’t you have any pride in yourself? Are you proud of being a slob?

I could go on but I imagine that you get the point. While you may the ability to enforce your personal desires on others right now, someday the tide will turn and others will seek to impose their will on you. When that happens to you, before you scream about your rights, remember what you did to the rights of others.

I have some suggestions.

While people are supposed to put up with your habits and preferences in behavior, because you are important, you might try putting up with other people’s habits that annoy you. It is, after all, one of the drawbacks of freedom.

If you want a business with a smoke free environment, open your own business.

Any business that does not allow children will have my patronage. The annoyance caused by undisciplined children is one of the main reasons I shop on-line now.

It used to be, long ago, that politicians would not raise taxes on cigarettes because a higher percentage of poor people smoked and raising taxes on things like cigarettes hurt the poor. Obviously, that is no longer a concern. And since the cost of smoking is no longer a concern, eliminate tax payer subsidies on tobacco. Why should people pay to have a product grown that offends them? If un-subsidized cigarettes cost $50 a pack, so be it.

Do away with the bogus lawsuits from people who smoked and got sick. If you can’t quit on you’re own, there are medications that can help you. Those who choose to keep smoking continue to smoke because it is hard and uncomfortable to quit. And it is. I know. But those who smoke or their heirs and assigns should not be compensated in any way for the weakness of the smoker.

Place all smokers, including users of smokeless tobacco and illegal drugs, into a special medical insurance pool. They can pay the higher medical costs created by their own actions. When they quit their bad behaviors for at least one year, they can go into the insurance group with those of us who don’t use tobacco.

Above all, be tolerant of your fellow man and his/her weaknesses. Trust me, no matter the size of your ego or the depth of your arrogance, you are not perfect either.







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Paxton Sawyer
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Houston, Texas 77055