Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Stochastic Cigarettes

Remove the uncertainty
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Governments around your planet have attempted to discourage smoking of cigarettes by various means; taxation, bland packaging, and large warning labels such as "Smoking kills" and "Smoking causes lung cancer and heart disease".

This has not been notably effective.

The problem is clearly one of psychology.

Humans seem predisposed to a sort of inane optimism which flies in the face of rational analysis, which can be summed up as, "Every day things fail to go wrong confirms us in the unjustified belief that everything is all right."

What is needed is a greater element of certainty.

Simply, this consists of treating a tiny portion of tobacco with a fast-acting volatile toxin and inserting it into one in every 5000 cigarettes.

The labels then just read, "1 in 5000 chance of instant death"

Since this figure is much higher than the average risk of developing a smoking-related fatal disease in the same timeframe, all other causes of death become insignificant and the smoker has only one highly reliable factor to consider (At five cigarettes a day, 5000 cigarettes will be consumed in 2.7 years).

This has many advantages.

1. Massive reductions in healthcare costs. Treating smoking-related diseases is expensive, lengthy, and untimately unlikely to provide prolonged benefit. Since abrupt death is not treatable, the financial benefits are clear.

2. Smokers continue to pay tax right up to the moment they die.

3. The judicious choice of toxic agent would allow for harvest of organs for transplant. A short-lived non-persistant CNS agent would be ideal. The fact that the deceased is still clenching a cigarette in their cooling fingers would be a generally recognised de-facto organ donor alert.

8th of 7, Aug 11 2013

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       Cool, I always wanted to drive taxis. You should use the opportunity to take the law into your own hands. I'd get one of those Private Investigator licenses, and solve mysteries based on leads from fares.
rcarty, Aug 12 2013
  

       You could drop wanted criminals you pick up right in front of the police station. Sounds like a dumb thing to take a cab to end up running away from it.
rcarty, Aug 12 2013
  

       What happens when there is the instant death of a driver in a vehicle on a busy road?
xenzag, Aug 12 2013
  

       The cigarettes don't need to be 1/5000 lethal, the public just needs to think that they are.
calum, Aug 12 2013
  

       I was surprised by one of the statistics regarding smokers. Over the long term, almost all of them (about 1/3 the US adult population in the 1970s) end up with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) --which of course explains all those drug commercials regarding treating COPD-- but less than 20% end up with cancer.   

       So, perhaps your poison, for the purposes of this Idea, could be a simple chlorine-releasing compound, which will damage the lungs and cause the equivalent of COPD rather quickly.
Vernon, Aug 12 2013
  

       Hey, guys, just shoot the fuckers and have done with it.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 12 2013
  

       Of course, the prudent smoker would simply skip every 5000'th cig and go straight to the 5001'st.
RayfordSteele, Aug 12 2013
  

       The thing you've failed to explain, [8th] old girl, is why the average enjoyer of the civilized weed would buy such cigarettes, as opposed to the existing ones, which seem to be quite popular.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 12 2013
  

       Simply because all cigarettes would be modified in the same way.
8th of 7, Aug 13 2013
  

       I think this is unlikely, comrade.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 13 2013
  

       Then it would make you look even cooler. This is a great marketing plan, flog it to Philip Morris.
notripe, Aug 13 2013
  

       [marked-for-deletion] punish people who do <x>.
FlyingToaster, Aug 13 2013
  

       // [marked-for-deletion] punish people who do <x>.//   

       Ah, but this is about punishing smokers, so that doesn't count. Equally, it's fine to state that smokers cause a net deficit to the country (average net profit to UK of a 20-a-day smoker from age 20 in 1980 until death: £37,500 ; this takes into account increased health costs due to smoking-related illness, offset against tobacco tax, reduced pension cost, and shortened chronic healthcare needs in later life), and also to point out that cigarettes are responsible for global warming and knife-crime.   

       Now, if the idea had been "Make 1 in 5000 burqas explode" or "make 1 in 5000 handgun rounds shoot backwards", then you'd have a point. Those things would be irrational, bigoted,* and unjustified.   

       [*I stand by my right to use an Oxford comma.]
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 14 2013
  
      
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