New graphic warning labels for cigarettes -- collect all 9!

lfarrell@islandpacket.comJune 23, 2011 

I often wonder how much farther humans can go in our evolutionary journey.

I mean, this can’t be it for us, right? Surely we have more fur to shed and brain cells to activate, no? More diseases to eradicate ... more wrinkles to make vestigial?

The assumptive part of me has always thought the plan was this: We’ll continue to breed our way to perfection, leaving behind the weak and the stupid, and thereby mutate into a precision species that everyone hates because we win all the gold medals in the intergalactic Olympics every four revolutions of the black hole (or whatever).

This imagined variety of supersapiens sports figures, by the way, also will have figured out how to economize syntax by combining all adjectives and nouns and verbs and adverbs into single words — so that when a futuristic human says, “Jump!,” no one ever has to waste time by asking, “How high?”

They will just know.

(Save me, Darwin, that almost sounded like the Germans there for a second.)

At any rate, I ponder these things knowing full well that this might actually be the last stop on the fish-with-legs train, and I think we all know who is to blame for this lack of improvement. No, not the People of Walmart (although, them too ... Actually, them especially. I was just trying to be nice and not be so classist). But not just them. It’s us, too. You and me and other people who get out of bed on time every day, eat a healthy breakfast and try to do the right thing.

Don’t argue with me, either. I’m telling you, we can’t escape it. It’s our darn faulty neural circuitry. Humans are terrible decision makers. Just the worst. And it constantly amazes me how dumb we can be.

Take the FDA's new warning labels for cigarettes. The agency just unveiled nine graphic images that will be affixed to packages of smokes, including one of a cadaver, one of a man smoking despite his tracheotomy and one showing blackened, damaged lungs.

It would be one thing if we were animals. An otter dies from smoking and you just have to expect that the rest of the otters are going to be shrugging their otter shoulders and muttering, “He just didn’t know. No one told the otters. Hand me the rest of his pack there, will you?”

But humans? No. We have all the information, the risk assessments, the warnings, the studies, the examples from the past and yet we still need graphic pictures of stitched-up cadavers on cigarette packs to dissuade us from lighting up?

Believe me, I’m not judging the smokers — I’m not even judging the chubby bureaucrats who spent the past however many years putzing around on PageMaker, trying to get just the right font for the words “Warning: Smoking can kill you.”

“Aaaaaand ... done. Oh wait, should I put it above the guy with the trach or below it, Bob?”

“Oooh, good question. Hang on, I’ll fax out a request for a committee meeting.”

It’s not those guys’ fault that we are such a slow and dim-witted species, is it? One that just loves to create problems and then reward itself for only sort of solving them?

It’s just who we are. In fact, I have such little faith in my own amygdala that I have seriously considered distributing copies of the most fat and tragic photo of myself to every fast food restaurant in Beaufort County with the words, “Do not give this girl a cheeseburger under any circumstances. She will not call the police and she will not wait for you by your car at night so she can stun gun your children in front of you. ... She is lying when she says that.”

Speaking of, can’t wait to see the new obesity labels in 2022! French fries, we hardly knew ye.

Anyway, who knows if these FDA labels are going to work. Probably they will — that is, until I unveil my new product, “Tag ’Em and Bag ’Em Label Hider for Cigarette Packs, Inc.”

Look who’s going to be riiiich!

Liz Farrell is the editor of Lowcountry Current. Follow her at

"Werner Herzog's documentary on texting and driving will have you putting down your phone"

"Have you 'liked' your narcissist today? Study links social media and ego"

"If you're not brightening your teeth or covering yourself in lotions ..."

"What to do do about 'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo'?"

"McTruth or consequences: The fattening lies we tell ourselves"

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service