Enjoy: 19 Good: 18 Love: 11 Nice: 7
One thing's for sure... this story is changing my opinion about smoking.
You have to understand, throughout my life, I have been a huge hater of tobacco. First, I never knew my maternal grandparents because tobacco killed them. But there were other influences in my life. My father taught high school, and his classroom posters made a big impression when I was a child: "Smoking stinks," "Don't be a butt head," and especially "Kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray."
Then there was the demonstration we had in sixth grade: A health worker brought in a mannequin head and torso that was open in the back so you could see a large pickle jar full of golden blonde hair representing the dummy's lungs. A tube with a pump connected the jar to the dummy's mouth. The worker put a cigarette in the mouth and lit it. With one squeeze of the pump, all that golden blonde hair (bronchi) instantly turned black.
I worked my way through college with Dr. David P.L. Sachs at the Palo Alto Center for Pulmonary Disease Prevention and Smoking Cessation Medical Group. I answered phones. "Thank you for calling the Palo Alto Center for Pulmonary Disease Prevention and Smoking Cessation Medical Group. How may I... hello, are you still there?"
In the year 2000, I started working for World Wildlife Fund in Washington D.C. to help finish a major fundraising campaign. Shortly after I started, they wanted to honor their emeritus chairman with a huge birthday party at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. I was startled to learn it was for Joseph Cullman, III, who had led Philip Morris as Chairman and CEO through the 1960's and 1970's when science knew all about the dangers of tobacco, and who was still very active in the company. This was the guy who invented the Marlboro man (or at least paid an advertising agency to invent it for him) and lied to Congress repeatedly about the health dangers of smoking.
In a planning meeting for Cullman's party, I looked at my very patient boss Rachel and said, "We all realize that this guy is the corporate equivalent of Adolph Hitler, right, with the blood of millions of people on his hands, right?" There was some foot shuffling under the desk and after the meeting Rachel told me, "You don't have to participate in the event." A few weeks later, though, it turned out that they needed a stage manager, and with my theatre background, they asked me to come anyway. Curious to see what the devil looked like, I went. Turned out he was just a silly old man who loved being praised by 300 people celebrating his birthday. He was pathetic. Also, I didn't work for WWF for very long after that.
So, clearly I hate the tobacco industry and all it stands for. And yet, last night at Walgreens, I saw a display like the one below and thought, "Those cigarette boxes are really cool. I'd love to buy a pack." Karen Moy, if I take up smoking and die of lung cancer, my family is going to sue.