Opinion

Editor's column

"Hard-earned tobacco company extortion money is being wasted by the Washington State Department of Heath, which is flooding the airwaves with stomach-churning commercials aimed at deterring people -- kids, mostly -- from smoking.There is nothing worse than watching another jiggly episode of the Friends crowd, only to have the atmosphere destroyed by a picture of a sick old geezer talking without a larynx. This is not the way to deter kids from smoking, although TV viewing is probably being reduced thanks to the number of shoes being thrown through TV screens around the state, so it's not a total waste of money.We all know that kids don't relate to old people, which is defined as anyone older than the graying Friends bunch. Anyone over 30 may as well be an alien from planet Pluto warning about the dangers of sniffing Kryptonite.Becoming an old dude without a larynx is not something teenagers can comprehend. It's too far in the future. And, from a practical viewpoint, they can rationalize that by the time they get cancer of the larynx, technology will be far advanced. By the year 2040 larynx cancer victims won't have to talk with the aid of machine that picks up the vibrations of the vocal cords. You'll probably be able to order a new larynx from the neighborhood Genome Center, cloned from your very own larynx cells.Another bad Department of Health commercial shows another old guy, this one lamenting the demise of his wife, who couldn't kick the habit and therefore passed away in her '40s. This is supposed to scare kids? They aren't even married, and the TV commercial is talking about 25 years into the future. By then, we may all have been killed off by some agribusiness cost--saving effort that accidentally results in humanity contracting the potato blight.To stop teen smoking, advertising and medical professionals have to focus on things that are important to them. Here are several effective commercial ideas:* Terrified boy and girl stare into mirror at faces spotted by fresh new pimples. Voiceover: Research proves that cigarette smoke causes pimples. Don't sacrifice your looks to an addiction.* Shocked boy and girl sit in a counselor's office, just after learning they will soon become parents. The counselor states, Too bad you didn't read the new warning on cigarette packages -- 'smoking counteracts the pill, and instantly deteriorates latex'. Are you hoping for a boy, or a girl?* Distraught boy and girl stand at the Department of Licensing office, having just flunked the smoke detector test. Sorry kids, says the clerk. Due to the number of auto accidents caused by the distraction of smoking, smokers aren't allowed to drive until they're 21. Enjoy those cigarettes for the next five years.Pimples? Babies? No driver's license? Kids can relate to these terrors, and the threat alone should drop teen smoking to zero overnight. "

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