As I was enveloped in a cloud of smoke on my walk back from the station—the business-suited offender in front of me had evidently had a hard time surviving his subway ride home from work without the benefit of nicotine—my mind turned to thinking about tobacco. I don’t actually have any moral objection to people smoking, but since they cannot be trusted to do so without blowing it in others’ faces, littering even the most isolated natural beauty spots, and waving their flaming sticks around like offensive weapons, extreme measures are required.
The problem with cigarettes, you see, is that they are just not dangerous enough. Granted, cigarettes are bad for you, but it takes far too long for the effects to happen for a psychological link to be made. You need to hook into the same dumb pavlovian reaction that got the subject addicted in the first place. You need a quick action and reaction.
Not decades. Not years. Not months. Not days, hours or even minutes. I’m talking about seconds. To train the smoker, they need a negative outcome that their minds will quickly associate with the act of smoking. So here are my proposals:
- Ban all light, low-tar, and other such reduced-harm cigarettes.
- Use laws and tax breaks to encourage—nay, require—tobacco companies to adulterate their product with “surprising” materials: medical and industrial waste; gunpowder; toxic compounds; etc.
- Quadruple the tax on cigarettes. This doesn’t have anything to do with prevention of smoking. We just do this because we can!
- Redefine cigarettes as “dangerous materials” and mark all packaging with appropriate warnings: “Do not place in mouth.” “Do not touch with bare skin.” “Keep away from fire.” Just for legal reasons, you understand. We couldn’t have the government accused of injuring their citizens, oh no!
When the smoker is poisoned, infected, or blown up by the next cigarette, he’s going to start dismantling those mental links between smoking and pleasure, and build up neurons between “smoking” and “world of pain.”
Extremist? Reactionary? Quite possibly. But I guarantee that it would work a lot better than nicotine gum or soi-disant education campaigns. More importantly, I’d be able to walk home from work with out a one-man pollution factory trying to cut off my oxygen supply.