In the first breath of fresh
air a tobacco company has ever provided, Liggett has finally
admitted that "cigarette smoking causes lung cancer,
heart and vascular disease, and emphysema."
Let’s not stop there.
Maybe Liggett will also
concede that the only reason they confessed was for the
money–limiting their own liability via settlement,
thereby making themselves more attractive as a takeover
candidate. Maybe Philip Morris will also admit that they are
engaged, in the words of a Minnesota state court judge, in
"an egregious attempt to hide" incriminating
information about their manufacturing and marketing
Maybe R.J. Reynolds will
acknowledge that, as newly released documents reveal, in 1984
they made a "long-term commitment to younger adult
smoker programs." Following this decision, Joe Camel was
born, and the number of children addicted to RJR’s death
sticks increased by a factor of 50.
Maybe the ad agencies and PR
flacks who whitewash tobacco will begin creating new
campaigns to alert the public that cigarettes are America’s
[real] drug problem. Maybe they’ll invent cuddly
cartoon characters–Mighty Coughin’ Power Rangers, Nicotine
Patch Kids, Tracheoto-Me-Elmo–to teach our kids that more
than 40 times as many of our loved ones die from cigarettes
as all illegal drugs combined.
Maybe they’ll admit pouring
money into "Smoker’s Rights" front groups whose
only real purpose is to keep as many people addicted as
possible. Maybe they’ll also admit how dopey their arguments
are. Suppose I enjoy wearing a dime bag of plutonium strapped
to my left thigh, does that give me the "right" to
irradiate everyone around me?
Spitting on a sidewalk can be
restricted, but blowing carcinogens into the air an infant is
breathing is a "right?" Start the car, honey,
there’s a sale down at Clue Mart. Let’s go get us a Family
Maybe the Republican Party
will confess that its leading contributor is Philip Morris,
and four of its top ten supporters are tobacco companies.
Maybe Bob Dole will admit that his insane comments
questioning smoking’s deadly power were colored by his love
for Marlboro money and frequent flights on U.S. Tobacco
Maybe Al Gore will cop to his
obscene lie at last year’s Democratic convention, when he
grandstanded his sister’s smoking related death as an
anti-tobacco epiphany. Maybe he’ll admit to soliciting
cigarette money for years after her death, once proudly
boasting to a convention of tobacco growers about his love
for harvesting and rolling tobacco by hand.
Maybe the shareholders who
profit from tobacco companies will realize their moral (if
not legal) liability for the cancer trade. Maybe all the
corporate types who deride their victims as lacking
"personal responsibility" will suddenly remember
that the [primary purpose] of forming a corporation is to
evade personal responsibility.
Maybe the Partnership for a
Drug Free America, creators of "This Is Your Brain"
and other ads–useless in stopping drug abuse, but great for
maintaining phony Drug War hysteria will admit that much of
their funding originates with tobacco companies. Maybe Time
and Newsweek will own up to letting their own
drug-like dependence on tobacco ads influence their coverage
of America’s tobacco holocaust for over 40 years.
Maybe public figures who
glamorize smoking–Letterman, Limbaugh, Madonna, etc.–will
admit they’re encouraging children to become addicted. Maybe
they’ll learn from Humphrey Bogart, Steve McQueen, Groucho
Marx, Arthur "Smoke’ Em By The Carton" Godfrey,
Edward R. Morrow, and several of the Marlboro Men in the ads
themselves, all of whom died of lung cancer.
Maybe you store owners who
sell cigarettes will realize you’re as much to blame as the
manufacturers. R.J. Reynolds needs you as badly as the
Medellin Cartel needed Freeway Ricky Ross. Maybe you’ll stop
selling products that kill your customers.
And maybe you smokers reading
this right now will admit that you’re putting it
mildly—drug-addicted fools. Maybe you’ll get help to
stop selfishly endangering others and cutting your own life
Or maybe that’s too much to
Bob Harris is a political
humorist who has spoken at over 275 colleges nationwide.