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Tobacco control is not a particularly cheery endeavour. Public health advocates are lambasted as Nanny Staters and Health Nazis. And we are, after all, discussing an epidemic that kills 5 million people a year now and will take a billion lives prematurely in this century if we don't rein in the tobacco industry sometime soon. Still, there is wry humour to be found amid the grimness and some cartoonists have artfully illustrated the inherent contradictions of an industry and its products that are, at heart, deadly poisons wrapped like chocolate treats.
No image has ever more succinctly illustrated the ‘logic’ of tobacco's defenders than Wiley's Non Sequitur ‘Physics as understood by restaurateurs’ cartoon. And Tom Toles of the Buffalo News summarised perfectly Tobacco Inc's problematic case back in 1994, thus: “We have developed a new cigarette. With almost no annoying smoke, not that smoke is annoying. And 90% less of the cancer-causing tars, not that the tars in our other cigarettes cause cancer. But it still has 100% of the nicotine, not that nicotine is the addictive part.”
Here are those and a handful more of the best cartoons to have appeared in these pages over the past 20 years.
Health and addiction
Secondhand smoke and smoking bans
The nefarious industry and tobacco control
Marketing to kids
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not internally peer reviewed.