Wednesday, September 26, 2007



Washington DC: In an extraordinarily rare bipartisan effort, both the Senate and House of Representatives passed an initiative encouraging Americans to smoke. Since both chambers have introduced legislative measures to increase the tax on cigarettes to fund specific health care programs for children, the dwindling number of American smokers has raised concern on Capitol Hill. “ Kids need health insurance. We need money to pay for it. The easiest way to raise tax dollars is to increase the taxes levied on tobacco products”, said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada. Senator Dick Shelby, Republican of Alabama who is cosponsoring the initiative said “Hail, them folks that smoke well...they’re addicted anyhows. They gonna smoke no matta whut it costs ‘em...might as well make some more money off ‘em”.

After decades of Congress supporting anti-smoking campaigns and after many high profile class action settlements against tobacco companies on behalf of smokers who became ill, this initiative is a dramatic shift. No executives from the largest tobacco companies could be reached for comment. Most, it has been reported, had either fainted, gone berserk or were hospitalized for hysterical laughter after hearing of the news urging Americans to smoke.

The Congress will launch a country wide public relations effort in the hopes of gaining public support. The PR blitz will begin next week with the unveiling of the slogan “Smoke ‘em up for the kids”. This slogan will appear on billboards, buses, taxis as well as in bars, truck stops and brothels. “The aim here is not only to encourage people to smoke but also to encourage those that do smoke to smoke even more”, commented I.M. Slick the CEO of the Washington DC based PR firm Slick & Slicker.

The number of Americans who smoke has declined dramatically since the 1960’s with recent studies reporting that only 21% to 23% of the population smoke cigarettes. These figures vary at the state level where some states have a smokers rate of up to 47%. Also, studies indicate the demographics of the smoking population demonstrate smokers tend to be less educated, of lower income, more frequent bowlers, drinkers and wife beaters than their nonsmoking counterparts. “A big challenge will be to change this poor image of smokers and smoking”, noted Mr. Slick.

Congressmen and Senators from tobacco producing states expressed mixed feelings about this new initiative but all were pleased that finally smoking was being appreciated for it’s social, if not economic value. “My great grandma smoked 4 packs a day from the time she was 7 until she died at age 101. Smokin’ never hurt the old gal. Hail, she’d still be alive, kickin and smokin if that jack didn’t give way while she was changin’ the oil on the John Deere”, said Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky. McConnell has consistently fought antismoking legislation and has also been voted The Ugliest, Stupidest Man in Government for the last 17 years. He narrowly edged out Congressman Henry Waxman, Democrat of California to win the title last year.

People across the country have expressed a variety of reactions to the news that our federal government actually wants people to smoke. “Sheet, I quit a few years ago cause they took out one a my lungs and amputated my tongue. Hail, if my government needs me to smoke, by golly, I’m buyin’ a pack of Luckies right now”, said Lloyd Splatch from Megehee, Arkansas. Fawn LeShay of San Francisco commented that she ”smokes about a pound of grass a week. Will...ah...that help the kids”? When she was informed that marijuana is not taxable by the federal government and also happens to be illegal she asked “Since when, man”. She was later spotted buying Twinkies and a pack of Newports in a local deli.

The overall boon to the economy as a result of increased smoking is predicted to be significant. According to Walter Fetard, an economist at North Carolina University, “Many industries will benefit if more people start smoking. Match production will increase as will the production of ash trays, lighters, breath mints, chewing gum, cheap whiskey, air fresheners, fire extinguishers, whitening toothpaste's and coffee. Yes sir, smoking might just lift our stagnant economy out of the rut”.

Some state’s appear to be more enthusiastic than others. Democratic Governor of Iowa, Chet Culver plans to introduce a bill that would lower the legal smoking age in Iowa to 12. “If they’re old enough to castrate a hog or ear tag a calf, they’re old enough to smoke in my book. What better way for kids to helps other kids”, said Culver while in attendance at the Wapello County Annual Pork Eat-A-Thon and Belch-Off. Many of those attending this popular, noisy event were enthusiastic about smoking more, starting to smoke after having quit, or having their first cigarette ever. Earliss Schwackenhacker, 77 from Dung Rapids was seen giving his grandson, Yoke, age 8, a Pall Mall. “Least I can do for the little fella is show him how it’s done”, said Earliss, wistfully adding “I still remember my first smoke. My granddaddy made me smoke a pack of Camels after he caught me messin’ with one of his sheep but, I loved it right off anyhows”.

Copyright TBC 2007 All Rights Reserved

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