Charita Goshay: Cigarette smokers already have the picture

Charita Goshay

The Food and Drug Administration’s latest gambit to get Americans to quit smoking is the placement on cigarette packages of images that graphically illustrate tobacco’s harmful effects.

The Canadians have been doing it for years.

Maybe it works for them.

If there’s anything we Americans enjoy, it’s the kind of bad behavior and horrible habits that put us in harm’s way.

As one preacher put it: “Of course sin is fun, or else you wouldn’t keep doing it.”

Just like overeaters and compulsive drinkers, smokers don’t need to be reminded of why they should not indulge. They know full well they’re putting themselves at risk.

The tobacco companies have complied with the FDA because they wish to stay in business, confident their hard-core customers are unlikely to heed yet another warning on packages that already bear warnings.

Another reason the cig-pics won’t work is because we’ve become practically scare-proof.

We eat as if every night is The Last Supper. We’re still tanning, sexting, driving drunk and engaging in unprotected intercourse.

We pay good money to bungee jump or to stand in line for hours to ride roller coasters that can bring up our lunch.

We go to NASCAR for the wrecks.

We love crazy-killer cop shows and blood-gushing video games featuring the kinds of creatures that used to hide under our beds.

Even our kids’ cartoons have body counts.

Next weekend, we’ll light firecrackers big enough to take down a Huey helicopter. Not even the obligatory yearly newspaper stories about people who now have nubs instead of fingers will be enough to stop us.

About the only thing that still can prompt us to run screaming are weather bulletins, terrorism threats, no matter how far-fetched, and the phrases “fat-free” and “fun for the entire family!”

The cig-pics simply will become another form of entertainment.

These days, we’re taught from birth that smoking isn’t the dashing and sexy habit of Bette Davis movies. But quitting is easier said than done. There was a time when doctors smoked in their offices and American GIs were given free cigarettes in their mess kits. It created a generation of people who went to their graves with a butt in one hand and an oxygen mask in the other.

Even though it almost would be cheaper to grind up $1 bills and smoke them instead, people still are plunking down the money.

Being an adult is about choice and consequence. If your kid’s nagging and paying $5.50 a pack for the privilege of standing in an alley in a rainstorm isn’t enough incentive to make you quit, it’s doubtful the sight of some stranger’s lung will.

Contact Charita Goshay at