• Images On Cigarette Packs Likely Won't Stop Addiction
  • In case you missed it, the government has announced a new tactic in the war against cigarette smoking cigarettes.

    By September of 2012, every cigarette package and cigarettes advertisement must carry a chilling message from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — graphic images showing the consequences of smoking cigarettes.

    In one picture, there is a balding man who appears to be hanging on to life by a thread. He is breathing through an oxygen mask and we can only guess whether he is a victim of lung cancer or emphysema. The caption reads: "Warning: Cigarettes cause strokes and heart disease."

    In another, a man smokes a cigarette through a hole in his throat. The caption reads: "Warning: Cigarettes are addictive."

    There is also a picture of a mouth full of rotting, discolored teeth and a lip with a big sore on it. The caption reads: "Warning: Cigarettes cause cancer."

    There are other frightening and disgusting images too: A couple of 5- or 6-year-olds lighting up like their parents; a man's dead body with a long scar extending the full length of his chest; an ashtray full of cigarettes with a pacifier sitting next to it to remind people that smoking cigarettes during pregnancy can hurt your unborn child.

    The government hopes all of those scary pictures will discourage people from smoking cigarettes, especially young people. The idea is that if you show the ugly side of cigarettes, teens might think twice about taking up the habit.

    I support the government's action. It is better than doing nothing. But, that said, I have my doubts it will change anyone's mind about cigarettes, especially a teenager's. They think they are invincible and don't listen to their parents, let alone a government image on a cigarette package.

    I have a 16-year-old daughter who is a smoker. I do not let Jenn smoke cigarettes cigarettes, but I know she does. My husband, Dan, and I have tried everything in our power to discourage it including medical intervention with a smokeless tobacco delivery device prescribed by our doctor. But Jenn continues to smoke. I can smell it.

    It's very hard to understand. To me, even the smell of cheap cigarettes is disgusting. I grew up in a household that reeked of smoke. My mother was constantly lighting up. She even smoked when I was a fetus growing inside of her.

    My father was a smoker, too, but he ended up quitting when my youngest sister was a toddler. His quitting wasn't entirely voluntary. He had some pretty serious smoking cigarettes-related health problems, including surgery to rip out his tonsils.

    As a teenager I can remember being so angry because I would shower and wash my hair and it ended up stinking of cigarettes.

    My grandmother and aunt lived next door to us and they smoked, too. They would come over to visit my mother for a coffee klatch and cigarettes and a suffocating blue haze would soon fill our tiny ranch-style house.

    When my grandmother died, my brother and sister-in-law cleaned out her house and got it ready to sell. They washed the walls and used bucket after bucket of water and cleaning solution to remove caked-on tobacco residue. The brown film ran down the walls as soon as they applied the wet cleaning rag. As I watched the brown scum run down the walls, I thought of my grandmother and how that same tobacco residue must have covered the inside of her lungs.

    Jenn, who is adopted, also was brought up with the blue haze of tobacco smoke. Her biological parents were heavy smokers. And, like me, Jenn was exposed to tobacco smoke cigarettes in the womb.

    What is not clear is why I despise cheap cigarettes and always have and she loves them. That is the great mystery of our time. If we knew the answer to it, we would solve one of the most difficult and heartbreaking problems in the world — living with addiction.

    For some unknown reason, I hate cheap cigarettes and Jenn loves them. It does not mean I'm smarter or better than she is. It could just be I'm luckier. Perhaps just because of a lucky accident of biology, I am not an addict and I do not have the tendencies of an addict. It's what allows me on rare occasions to enjoy a single glass of red wine with dinner and not want a second glass at all.

    The point is, government can put the grossest images ever seen on cigarette packages and people will still smoke. Heck, they might even try to collect all of those images so they'll have the complete set, a collector's edition of death.