On Nov. 12, I invited readers to submit anti-smoking graphics that the Food and Drug Administration might use for the new, expanded health warnings it will soon require manufacturers to place on cigarette packs. The FDA is currently considering 72 graphics that convey fear or disgust. These graphics are designed to accompany one of nine new health warnings ("Smoking can kill you"; "Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers"; etc.) mandated under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
I proposed that readers avoid the obvious route taken by the FDA and go instead for edgy, dark wit in the style of the late Saturday Night Live writer/performer Michael "Mr. Mike" O'Donoghue. The results were neither as plentiful nor as successful as I'd hoped. But that's probably in the nature of the challenge: Mr. Mike himself struck out more often than he succeeded, achieving mere perversity when he was going for inspired and utterly twisted hilarity. Dying is easy, comedy is hard, and black comedy, perhaps, is hardest of all. In that forgiving spirit, we present a slide show of the winners. Launch the slide show by clicking on the module below or clicking here.
Corrections, Dec. 1, 2010: An earlier version of this slide show included (as third runner-up) a reader's submission of a cartoon depicting a mother blowing cigarette smoke into her infant's face that turned out to be one of the FDA's own 72 proposed images. I regret my embarrassing failure to recognize the graphic's ineligibility and congratulate the FDA for passing an inadvertent blind taste-test.
In addition, the earlier version of this slide show misspelled (as "Paul Kane") the name of fourth runner-up—now third runner-up—Paul Caine, and referred to Talya Shachar—the first runner-up—without using her full last name, Shachar-Albocher.