I’ve made up my mind to buy myself a pack of cigarettes every day starting from June. Not because I smoke but I’m just addicted to pictures of skull and crossbones. However, that is not quite what the Indian Government hopes to achieve with their decision to have all tobacco products bear that deadly, all destructive symbol.

                The anti-smoking campaign¾consisting of wives whose husbands put out cigarettes on their butts, guys who hate ashtrays, and English cricketers who loathe the Ashes¾approached the Indian Government with state of the art software that analyzed and calculated the huge impact the pictorial warning would have on people taking up smoking. It was a Word Document with the words “PICTORIAL WARNING ON CIGARETTES IS NEAT” blown up to a font size of 78. Of course, when faced with such solid scientific evidence, the Government had no other option but to give in to their demand.

                One key reason for making pictorial warnings mandatory for tobacco products is to get the message across to a large section of bidi-smokers who’re mostly illiterate rural people like bankrupt suicidal farmers and unemployed hobos who will, of course, suddenly ascribe new meaning to their lives owing to graphic depictions of mouth ulcer, cerebral strokes, and damaged hearts. And, surely, the symbolic significance of the limp cigarette is not likely to elude their hugely poetic, interpretive intellects.

                Seeing that the Government was favorably negotiating with the anti-smoking campaign, two other committees decided to voice their demands¾the Anti-Fat-Ass committee and the Anti-Ayn Rand Committee. The Anti-Fat-Ass campaigners insisted that all snacks, chocolates, and ice cream should have a picture of a huge fat kid getting stoned by bullies in school and a picture of a big bloated girl getting cheated on by her partner; meanwhile, the Anti-Ayn Rand campaigners demanded that every book of Ayn Rand especially Atlas Shrugged should compulsorily carry a picture of a man putting a gun up to his head. The Government, however, found these demands highly retarded and told them to just stop their despicable habits of eating and reading.

                 The milestone reached by the anti-smoking campaigners, unsurprisingly, did not sit well with the owners of the tobacco companies and the people involved in selling tobacco products. They argued that having such graphic images on the covers of tobacco products would instill a sense of violence in the people who come across them. And, also, there was this small glitch of them losing a lot of money, but obviously that wasn’t as important as protecting the people from the potentially traumatic pictures. Finally, they suggested that if the anti-smokers so badly wanted a pictorial warning they could perhaps content themselves with the picture of a normal man looking kind of sad¾buyers would, of course, be able to interpret that the reason for his sadness was lung cancer, impotence, mouth ulcer, chapped lips, and children who were victims of passive smoking. Unfortunately for the pro-tobacco crusaders, the Government proved to be inflexible on their decision. In anger, the pro-tobacco crusaders remarked that the Government should have a huge logo where a donkey with a broken leg would be shown, which would translate to “lame Ass.” The Government said that they would think about it.

                I’m often dumbfounded when two parties with contrasting opinions just cannot find a common ground. And since the Indian Government, the anti-smoking campaigners and the pro-tobacco activists do not seem to have the foresight and astuteness to understand the psyche of the people in our nation I consider it my responsibility to put forth an amicable solution to the smoking predicament. If one is able to develop an image that wouldn’t severely traumatize the customers but would still put the fear of God in them and would make them think thrice before smoking, that is the key to solving the issue. Thankfully, that is exactly what I have done.

 Click here to see my solution : smokerswarning1.jpg  

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