If this site has seemed dead and buried, consider this post the deformed, decomposing hand that suddenly bursts through the graveyard dirt. We should be out and lurching around slowly and awkwardly in no time.
I've begun the process of transforming Radosh.net into a group blog plus microblog. Which regular commenters would you like to see as co-bloggers? Anyone who nominates themselves under a pseudonym will be automatically disqualified (or else guaranteed a spot, depending on how I feel).
Cigarette companies are suing the government over the new "tombstone labels" requirement, which mandates large warning stickers with pictures of diseased lungs and other gross stuff on each pack of smokes. The lawsuit is a losing gambit, but that doesn't mean the labels will necessarily be as effective as some experts think. After all, just because tobacco companies can't take the disturbing pictures off their product, there's nothing stopping customers from doing so themselves.
Introducing the deviously clever SmokeStixx, do-it-yourself decals for cigarette packs that hide the warning labels (and the brand names, so don't expect tobacco companies to embrace them, at least not openly) and also make smoking seem cooler than it has in decades. Aimed squarely at teens accustomed to personalizing everything from their MySpace pages to their game controllers, SmokeStixx turns the tobacco company's crisis into a money-making opportunity.
Which is not to say I don't have doubts about this product catching on. In this economy, who is going to pay an extra dollar for a pack of cigarettes? And it's one thing to customize your iPod, laptop, or phone, but do you really want to put in even the minimal effort of skinning a pack of cigarettes that you're going to throw out in a week or so? On the other hand, that alone is just another sign the product is aimed at new smokers who aren't yet going through a pack a day. Indeed, the target market has to be kids who already thinking smoking is cool. Mature addicts tend to smoke somewhere on a spectrum between resignation and self-loathing, and the act of disguising each pack they buy, no matter how cool the design, would only serve to heighten their feeling of shame, something no one is likely to do voluntarily.
Which doesn't make the product any less loathsome. If SmokeStixx do take off, kids who are new smokers now will continue to use them indefinitely, thereby artificially prolonging the time span during which they believe smoking is cool, and taking even longer to quit. Which would of course mean that tombstone labels had backfired egregiously.
Expect the FDA to ban SmokeStixx in about five years. And then expect kids who had grown up on them to come up with something else.