You shouldn't do it, obviously. I don't. I read a NYT Magazine article about the tobacco industry, about how Altria Group (nee Phillip Morris) is supporting federal regulation, now that the tobacco legal wars have died down. (Altria also owns Kraft, one of the most egregious marketers of "easy" processed food. "This Mac & Cheese sure is salty, Mom!") The writer of the article seems willing to take on the terms of the Altria CEO and portray the man sympathetically. I am not willing to do that, because what that man does, and what every corporation does is extract your money from you, almost always regardless of what's good for you in the long term and what's good from future generations.

Nevertheless, witness my peccadillo with the article writer, who says:
Imagine a world in which advertising and marketing disappears completely, where cigarettes have to be placed out of sight in retail stores, where warning labels on cigarette packs are as big and scary as they are in much of Europe, where smoking in public places is outlawed everywhere, where cessation programs are national in scope and where efforts to reduce youth smoking are no longer sporadic or piecemeal. [Italics added]
What's the last time this guy was in Europe? Granted, the Roma/gypsies don't smoke in Europe, unlike the US underclass, but that's because they're smart and crafty (referral to history of racism -- wink). In Amsterdam, everybody smokes, everywhere. But that's just the Dutch, who are freewheeling. In Paris, it's still "cosmopolitan" to smoke -- have you seen Linklater's Before Sunset? There's a scene where the Julie Delpy beautiful Frenchwoman character drinks coffee with the American Ethan Hawke character and suprise! pulls out some smokes, as every beautiful Frenchwoman would, for what better way is there to refuse mass morality, just like my boy Camus?

And damn, bro, not only do the Brits quaff more pints than one could imagine -- they drink like it's 1699 (evidence shows that our ancestors drank gallons!), they also, of course, smoke tobacco. Sidebar on alcohol consumption (notice the US way way down there):

Consumption of beer, wine, and distilled spirits in select countries, 2003
(in litres per capita of drinking-age population)
country beer wine spirits total**
Luxembourg 101.6* 66.1* 1.6* 12.6*
Hungary 72.2* 37.4* 3.5* 11.4*
Czech Republic 157.0* *16.8* 3.8* 11.0*
Ireland 141.2* 15.2* 2.0* 10.8*
Germany 117.5* 23.6* 2.0* 10.2*
Spain 78.3* 30.6* 2.4* 10.0*
Portugal 58.7* 42.0* 1.4* 9.6*
United Kingdom 101.5* 20.1* 1.8* 9.6*
Denmark 96.2* 32.6* 1.1* 9.5*
Austria 110.6* 29.8* 1.4* 9.3*
France 35.5* 48.5* 2.4* 9.3*
Cyprus 60.0* 17.8* 3.9* 9.0*
Switzerland 58.1* 40.9* 1.6* 9.0*
Belgium 96.2* 23.0* 1.4* 8.8*
Russia 32.8* 8.6* 6.2* 8.7*
Slovakia 88.4* 13.0* 3.5* 8.5*
Latvia 36.6* 3.6* 6.1* 8.1*
Romania 67.0* 23.0* 2.0* 8.1*
Finland 80.2* 26.3* 2.1* 7.9*
Netherlands 78.7* 19.6* 1.5* 7.9*
Greece 40.4* 33.8* 1.6* 7.7*
Australia 91.5* 20.4* 1.2* 7.2*
Canada 67.8* 11.0* 2.2* 7.0*
Italy 30.1* 47.5* 0.4* 6.9*
New Zealand 72.8* 19.1* 1.6* 6.8*
United States 81.6* 9.5* 1.9* 6.8*

Anyway, continuing on, the Italians also smoke, but not that much. Hard to pat a young lady's ass and made a comment with a cigarette in hand (wink #2). The only place where the above statement is really that true is in Germany where nearly no one smokes, and no one smokes in public, by G-d. Damn, those folks keep their stuff clean. It's just like my Midwestern homeland!

This is an awesome map illustrating tobacco consumption by country. Did you know 15 billion cigarettes are smoked every day? This guy only covers a minute fraction!

Anyway, this exercise in cavilling with this NYT Mag writer has shown me that a good way to understand culture is through what people consume every day. And as Americans, you can bet the Marlboro man and Joe Camel be leadin' us to George W. Bush's Freedom Century soon! Right around the corner represented by the AM Zarqawi corpse!
No profanes - sacred

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