Harsh Warnings

I know I have mentioned the prevalence of smoking here in Switzerland on my blog before. I apologize for coming back around to this subject, but it is never far from my mind because the smell of cigarettes is never far from my nose when I am out in public.

Smokers account for a lot of litter here in Zug - not only their cigarette butts, but also their cigarette boxes. I see empty cigarette boxes more often than any other form of litter. One reason they catch my eye is the startling graphic pictures on the boxes warning of the dangers of smoking.

Apparently the Swiss government implemented the policy to put health warnings on all cigarette packages in January 2010. The warnings must cover "48% of the front and 63% of the back of all cigarette packages".

On the front of the cigarette packs that I have seen is this warning, written in three languages: German, French, and Italian:
Translated: "Smoking is deadly."

And below is a small sampling of some of the disturbing graphic warnings that grace the back of the packages - again, accompanied by text written in three languages:
Translated: "Protect children - Do not smoke in their presence."

Translation: "Smoking can lead to circulatory disorders and causes impotence."

Translation: "Smoking leads to blockage of the blood vessels and causes heart attacks and strokes."

Translation: "Smoke contains benzene, nitrosamines, formaldehyde, and hydrocyanic acid."

Translation: "Medical professionals help you to quit smoking."

Being in a new country, surrounded by a new culture, has heightened my observational skills. It has also revealed my ignorance about cigarette packaging in the US. The only thing I know about US cigarette packages is that they have to have the Surgeon General's warning. Beyond that, I have no idea if they use graphic pictures.  Either way, no one can claim that they haven't been properly warned of the dangers of smoking.

My poem is about the power of addiction despite knowing the risks:

boxed warnings
don't extinguish
the compulsion
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.