Those big-hearted tobacco companies

June 25, 1996|By Art Buchwald

THE PHILIP MORRIS tobacco company has just made America an offer it cannot refuse. In exchange for controlling advertising to teenagers, the company wants the Food and Drug hTC Agency to stop regulating cigarettes.

Philip Morris is not the only one anxious to make a deal with the government. The Charlie Choke Cigarette Company also has offered to get in the picture.

Charlie Choke's spokesperson, Rufus Dare, has just announced that the Choke Company is willing to cut down on children breathing "secondary smoke."

"We are concerned about secondary smoke affecting our youth," Dare said. "So Choke proposes that no one under 18 years of age be permitted to inhale."

"How do you intend to enforce that?" Rufus was asked.

"No teenagers will be permitted to inhale from another person's cigarette without photo ID."

"But secondary smoke is everywhere," a reporter protested.

"Yes. But the Choke Company intends to have laws passed that children cannot play near bars, boxing stadiums or sit in the smoking part of a restaurant. If they are caught doing so, they will be subject to a one-year jail term and a $10,000 fine."

"You're even tougher than Philip Morris. Do you plan to withhold Choke ads from magazines?"

"Yes, we do. Our mascot, the laughing dragon who smokes two cigarettes at a time, will no longer be featured in ads in Playboy and Penthouse. Those two publications are the ones that most teenage inhalers read. We also intend to stop sponsoring the Soap Box Derby. We want the country to know that, while for adults inhaling secondary smoke is a pleasurable experience, young people could easily become addicted without being aware of it."

"In exchange, what does the Choke Company want?"

"The complete shutdown of the National Institutes of Health, the indictment of the Surgeon General as a war criminal and a full pardon for the Marlboro Man."

"That sounds reasonable."

"If the tobacco companies can't prevent young people from inhaling secondary smoke, who can?"

Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist.

Pub Date: 6/25/96

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