In addition, all cigarette packages will be required to carry warnings, such as "Cigarettes are addictive" and "Cigarettes can kill you". Surprise!
Millions of smokers are in a quandry. Keep on smoking in the face of the admission by the cigarette makers that their product is deadly and addictive, or try and quit.
"Sure does make one look stupid," admitted a long-time smoker wearing a Marlboro tee-shirt, " and part of the deal is we can't sue the bastards for conspiring to kill us."
The cigarette settlement must be approved by President Clinton, and a US Congress notorious for receiving campaign contributions from the tobacco industry. "You gotta believe that the only reason the cigarette makers agreed to pay $368 billion over 25 years was because worse things could have happened to them in court," noted a Capitol Hill veteran.
Ralph Nader, notorious supporter of America's trial lawyers, blasted the settlement for the obvious reason, it limits class actions against the cigarette industry meaning trial lawyers can't get rich off suing the tobacco companies.
"Screwing the trial lawyers may be one of the most popular aspects of the settlement," added our Capitol commentator.
What is unknown at this time is what the response of America's nicotine addicts will be to the settlement news. "The first thing I'm going to do is stockpile as many cartons of cigarettes as I can," noted one smoker. "The problem is going to be where to smoke them, since the settlement is obviously going to strengthen efforts to ban smoking in public."
One of the more serious impacts of the settlement will be the requirement that cigarettes be sold from behind the counter in stores. "My whole store is filled with cigarette ads and cigarette displays," wailed the owner of a Circle K in Tucson. "I guess I'll have to replace everything with beer ads."
The settlement also bars the tobacco industry from sponsoring sports events. "Darn it," muttered a member of a NASCAR racing team sponsored by a famous cig brand, "now we gotta find a new sponsor. This ain't gonna look pretty as the Handiwipe Special."
A black market of full nicotine-strength cigarettes is expected. "This is great," chortled a Columbian cocaine dealer, "now we've got something new that will be illegal to sell in the United States. This could make us billions."
Probably the most severe impact of the settlement will be all the non-smokers going "nah, nah, nah, I told you so," to the smokers of America.
Copyright 1997 by Hugh Holub.