I cannot but be happy about the decision of the Australian government led by Kevin Rudd to further tighten the moral suasion against smoking. They decided that starting in 2012, the name of the brand of cigarettes and other logos will be moved away from the front of the pack, making all the packs of cigarettes look equal in their appearance: the one of the picture below. On the left how packs look like now, on the right the new look.

Cigarette smoke is the most common cause of lung cancer: according to cancerhelpUK, nine cases out of ten are due to smoking. And lung cancer kills about 160,000 men and women each year. The death rate per 100,000 individuals in 2006 (the last year for which there is available data) in the US looked like this:

So your chance of getting a lung cancer this year are about 5 in ten thousand, on average. Of course the different colors in the map above should not deceive you: they mostly reflect the presence of smokers in the various states. So if you are a smoker, living in New Mexico (the state with the lowest death rate, 23.4 per 100,000 per year) is not going to be three times better than living in Kentucky (the state with the highest death rate, 74.8 per 100,000). For a smoker, the death rate is going to rather depend on the kind of prevention screening one subjects oneself to, and on the quality of medical treatment.

I have been a smoker myself -not a heavy smoker, arguably- and although I have quit four years ago, I know that my odds of getting lung cancer later on are significantly higher than those of individuals who have never entertained themselves with fags and matches. I have always been aware of the risk, but I am convinced that if the cigarette packs had looked as unattractive as the ones of Australia, my decision of quitting would have come earlier. So I applaud at the initiative, and I boo the bigots who argue against the "obscene" show of lung details in affected patients. Obscene is to not act!

Finally, I would like to note that lung cancer appears to kill over one order of magnitude more men and women than terrorism, but we seem to pay way less attention to the former. Maybe because we most of all need to preserve our lifestyle, rather than our life.