Health Warnings

We must have learned a lesson or two from the three-hectare health-based caveats that come affixed to cigarette packets by now.

The obvious lesson is that smoking makes you dead. The other is that government health warnings can be applied to a product as economically lucrative and politically powerful as tobacco, signaling a small triumph of the moral over the profitable.

My friends David and Siglinde came over last night for dinner and with them they brought a trendy brand of cigarette called American Spirit, the packet of which promotes the fact that they are chemical-free and made from ‘all-natural tobacco’. If it weren’t for the “Smoking will harm your unborn baby” sticker, you’d think that these cigarettes were positively good for you!

But it got me thinking. Why is it only tobacco products get these warnings? Why don’t McDonalds food products come with warnings that declare, “This product is composed of the lowest-grade meat imaginable and your purchasing of it will be instrumental in the decline of Brazilian rainforests and the continuing economic rape of several third-world countries”?

But no. In the food world, it is far easier to put stickers on products that are actually half-ethical. “This product is fair trade” my coffee boasts. Well, it should be shouldn’t it? I don’t go around declaring the fact that I’ve never killed anyone. It’s as given.

What a fucked up world we live in.

Of all products that warrant health warnings, I reckon cars warrant them most of all. Here are a few suggested health warnings that I think should be displayed in the windows of showrooms:

* “Cars cause lung cancer, asthma and heart disease”.

* “Car accidents cause 1.2 million deaths worldwide each year” *

* “Car accidents injure 50 million people worldwide each year and will increase to over 65% over the next twenty years”. *

* Cars promote the notion that individualism must be attained at the expense of others” *

* “Infrastructure associated with cars damage the water cycle”.

* “Communities with greater number of cars experience greater degrees of personal alienation”. *

* “Cars depend upon oil. Oil is a primary motivator for war”.

* “Cars are unsightly, noisy, dangerous machines developed in the name of convenience, marketed in the name of the autonomous self, instrumental in war and conductive to the ongoing collapse of our environment”.

Wow. What a preachy post. Cars suck is all I’m saying. If you don’t believe me, just remind yourself of this pile of crap.

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