This morning, a local radio station played a “public service announcement” from a local tobacco retail store. The owner of the store recounted a story about witnessing an automobile accident in which several people died because they weren’t wearing their seat belts. The narrator went on to urge everyone to “buckle up” as a life-saving measure. Now, I appreciate his passion about this issue. Not wearing a seat belt when you drive is a stupid thing to do. But I would have been even more appreciative of his passion if he had said, “And by the way, don’t smoke, either.”
The latest statistics show that smoking kills ten times more people each year than auto accidents. At least half of the deaths in auto accidents are a result of not wearing a seat belt. In effect you are twenty times more likely to die if you smoke than you are to die in an auto accident if you don’t wear your seat belt. So urging people to wear their seat belts is an admirable thing to do, but how about encouraging people to stop smoking? Both messages would be positive and avoid the irony of the current message.