The anti-smoking message in Australia has been to deface cigarette packets with the most gruesome and offensive images of diseased lungs, arteries, feet and mouths. They are images so grotesque that smokers cannot bear to look upon them - which is why everyone has returned to the gracious old custom of storing their cigarettes in silver or gold cigarette cases. Suddenly, thanks to the overkill of the health messages, smoking has become rather classy - and someone has become extremely rich on the revival of cigarette cases.
The television advertisments which reiterate the imagery are harder to avoid and it is not only the smokers who are assaulted by them. No one dares eat in front of the television any more in case they have their stomachs turned by this aggressive shock campaign.
I pondered, when they introduced this disgusting health nannying imagery, if there was not cause for the same sort of treatment of alcohol. After all, smokers only harm themselves. Drinkers are responsible for road accidents, domestic violence, general brawling and vandalism and, of course, the damage to their livers potentially caused by overindulgence.
Well, I need wonder no longer. The Salvation Army has begun the push and now the media is leaping about in excitement. Alcohol bottles require anti-cancer warnings, just like cigarettes!
Of course, there is a powerful wine industry here in Australia and it is not going to like this - defacing the bottles with photographs of diseased livers and upstaging the label designs for which they pay top desigers a fortune. Of course drinkers are not going to want to look at filthy, cancerous livers as they sit down to quaff a $30 bottle of lovingly-made fine shiraz. What a turnoff! Photos of sick livers on the dining table in front of them as haut cuisine is served? I don't think so.
Just watch as a new market emerges - providing handsome bottle sheaths, the drinker's equivalent of the gold cigarette case. Come to think of it, I could get in on the ground floor of this one.
There is certainly more cause to deter drinkers from getting sloshed and sleazy than there is to stop smokers puffing, for the aforementioned societal reasons. But this movement of putting offensive graphic material in front of everyone is simply appalling. Distasteful rather than deterrent. It is a grotesque overkill by a self-righteous nanny culture gone mad with power.