Decades after scientists concluded that smoking kills, the federal government is preparing to force tobacco companies to place graphic and grotesque warnings on their packaging.
There are photos of a man smoking through a hole in his throat, a corpse whose chest has been cracked open, and a toe with a tag on it in a morgue.
There are images of a baby choking on smoke, an oozing sore on a lip, and a puppet on a string to illustrate that nicotine is addictive.
If all goes as planned, tobacco companies would be required to place the warnings on cigarette packs, front and back, by 2012. The effort announced last week by the Food and Drug Administration is a result of legislation signed by President Barack Obama last year.
California long has produced anti-tobacco ads, which has helped reduce smoking dramatically.
Most of the rest of the country has no such program. That would change in dramatic fashion. The feds would be placing eye-catching anti-smoking messages directly in the hands of anyone who would buy a pack of cigarettes.
Tobacco industry spokesmen claim that if the FDA can place oversized warnings on packs of cigarettes, Big Brother next will slap warnings on beer and Twinkies.
There's a basic difference between cigarettes and other consumer products. By using cigarettes as intended, smokers will suffer sooner or later from deadly smoking-related illnesses.
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