Ok. Here it goes. I’ll admit it. I’m a smoker. Not a pack a day, but i’m someone that enjoys a post meal or glass of wine cigarette. And certainly, after a night on the town it will be an almost empty pack. There I said it.

Yes, I want to quit soon… blah blah blah. I have also lived in Australia where we are inflicted with the most graphic, horrendous images every time we purchase a packet. That’s why I was quite interested to see that an American judge blocked a federal requirement that would have begun forcing tobacco companies to put graphic images on their cigarette packages recently.

“U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that it’s likely the cigarette makers will succeed in a lawsuit to block the requirement. He stopped the requirement until the lawsuit is resolved, which could take years. Leon found the nine graphic images approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June go beyond conveying the facts about the health risks of smoking or go beyond that into advocacy — a critical distinction in a case over free speech.”

It’s become a fun little quiz that I do lately. I ask people in the US how much they think a packet of cigarettes costs in Australia. I pass around the room and listen to their guesses. No-one gets close. When I tell them between $16 and $19… I watch the jaws drop. I say: “When you have a public health care system- you make the unhealthy citizens pay for it!” And the graphic “warning” images are part and parcel of the push to stop you buying that packet.

It made me think that it’s almost un-American to have a product that is trying to dissuade you to buy it. It goes against every advertising principle! So I “get” why this is an issue here. Couple that, with the resistance to universal healthcare and it becomes clear to me that it’s less about “free speech” or protecting us from gory images and more about capitalism.

The Shielding™ wave is about reacting to fear. As an (albeit light) smoker I can’t deny that I worry about the effect cigs have on my health. The hideous images I get on Australian packets are gross. I remember requesting a different packet when I got one with a bleeding brain because my friend had just passed from an aneurysm.

So does it work? No.

Nicotine addiction is stronger than graphic images. But in the long run those images probably do have a subconscious affect, because I always feel the need to explain that I’m planning on quitting soon.

The Human Truth™ of this wave is: “It’s not paranoia if something’s really out to get you.”™ There’s no denying cigarettes are “out to get” the smoker. I just wonder what could be the next extension of that?   A photo of a disgustingly obese person on the packaging of my Big Mac? A beer with a car crash on the label?

All I know is, the guilt is usually inherent regardless of scary packaging. Yet, in the moment… the moment of really wanting it… you’re going to buy it anyway.

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