“SMOKING KILLS!” vs. “Smoking can kill…”

One of the textbook characters who teaches my son German is an Alpine grandpa who smokes a pipe. He’s a cute little guy and the pipe suits him.

In England, such a tobacco-smoking pedagogical smurf would be utterly verboten. Utterly.

Not so in Austria. But then I’ve noticed a different approach to smoking here. Not only do people smoke more, there are subtle differences in the way smoking is perceived. Hence the smoking grandpa and a difference between health warnings contained on tobacco advertising.

Cigarette billboards in the UK have a full third taken up with scary warnings like: “SMOKING KILLS!” or “SMOKING GIVES YOU CANCER” or “SMOKING KILLS CHILDREN” or (worst of all) “SMOKING CAUSES IMPOTENCE.”

In Austria the warning is less dramatic. The notice at the bottom says: Rauchen kann tödlich sein (“Smoking can kill”). Can kill. Might Kill. Could kill. May kill. But will kill? No.



  1. I think that’s great. I think that smoking gets a bad rap. Last time there was a public campaign to smear reasonably mainstream behavior, they called it McCarthyism.


  2. Pipe smoking is by far the least of health concerns. No form of smoking is 100% safe, but pipe smoking hardly even rates as a danger. Longevity studies have shown that, in fact, pipe smokers live longer than people who don’t smoke. That doesn’t surprise me, since it is such a relaxing and enjoyable ritual.


  3. The CAN kill phase, UK has already gone through. Austria seems likely to catch up in due course.

    I am so glad that I quit smoking in 1966 when I was 26.

    I had a cosmetic operation in (NHS) hospital in 1972 and there was a guy in the ward who had a fluid drain from his lungs. Every quarter hour, he would get pannicky as he started to drown. Eventually, after about five minutes, the nurse would make time to switch the pump on until the lungs were empty and he would know relief.

    The pump, apparently, could not be allowed to stay on. The process would repeat over and over all day. I was there for about a week. I do not know if he ever got any sleep at night. Good luck to you guys. Try to commit suicide when you get the lung cancer.



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