UK shops to sell cigarettes in plain packaging… whose stupid idea was *that*?

09/03/2011

It was UK health secretary Andrew Lansley’s idea, apparently. He has announced his intention over the next 5 years to reduce the number of smokers in Britain by a greater number than was reduced in the past 5 years. And he has identified cigarettes’ allegedly gaudy, inviting packaging as a chief reason why people take up the habit in the first place. He has also announced a “consultation” into the idea of banning cigarette displays entirely, so tobacco products will have to be sold from “under the counter”.

Obviously, Lansley is a massive tit. Plain packaging and discreet under-the-counter sales will make cigarettes seem very illicit… and we all know what teenagers in general think of illicit activities. I predict that these measures will not reduce the number of smokers at all. Maybe it’ll even increase the number of smokers. Which is, of course, no bad thing for a political party that counts amongst its members the very tobacco barons the government claims it wants to destroy.

The other day I was waiting in the queue for the tobacco counter at my local Sainsbury’s, and I was struck by the current packaging of cigarettes. Every single pack has emblazoned across its front in bold letters sentences like SMOKING KILLS and SMOKING WILL TURN YOUR UNBORN CHILD INTO A STUMP-HEADED MUTANT. If that hasn’t reduced the number of smokers by the “desired” amount, what in hell makes Lansley think his stupid idea will do any better? The answer, of course, is stupidity. And hypocrisy. We must never forget the hypocrisy factor when trying to figure out our Con-Dem government’s motives.

Incidentally, that same Guardian story says that 21.2% of adults in Britain are smokers. It’s a minority, for sure, but it’s one heck of a big minority. Who the hell do the government think they are, messing with more than 8 million people’s right to choose what they do? Plus the government makes a lot of money by taxing tobacco products. What are they going to do if we all stop smoking – increase the tax on road fuel (which, incidentally, is far more harmful to the general population’s health than a damn cigarette)? These pin-headed ministers really do need to think these things through…

Cigarette displays like this may soon be outlawed if the UK govt gets its way

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Spider girl of Bihar has arms and legs chopped off

07/11/2007

lakshmi.jpg

This is an unusual girl – it’s Lakshmi, from a village in the north Indian state of Bihar. Well, she was unusual-looking; now she is recovering well after an operation to remove her extra arms and legs, according to the Guardian.

Lakshmi’s rare deformity – she had an extra set of arms and legs – was due to the fact that she was joined at the pelvis to a “parasitic twin” that stopped developing in the womb. The stronger fetus absorbed the arms, legs, and some organs from the other fetus.

In rural India, children with deformities are often considered to be reincarnated gods. Lakshmi is named after the four-armed Hindu goddess of wealth. Her parents have spent the past two years hiding the girl from superstitious neighbours, who alternately wanted to praise her as the incarnation of a deity and sell her to a circus.

Now, however, her ordeal is nearly over. Lakshmi still needs surgery for club feet. But the Spider Girl of Bihar is no more.

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