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Here’s where my conservative friends are totally on target. Government agencies can’t do anything right. Take the FDA’s new cigarette disclaimers. Could they make smoking any more bad ass if they tried? Some kid illustrators weigh in on the new graphics:

Tim Jacobus, who illustrated the covers of the “Goosebumps” series for a decade, is an expert on freaking out twelve-year-olds, and he worries that these drawings might have the opposite effect. “The illustration style, there’s an appeal to that,” he told me. “Kids may be, like, ‘that’s kind of gruesome, but it’s cool, I’m going to hang on to this.’ ”

Gahan Wilson, who does his share of creepy illustrations, including for this magazine, says these drawings are “coddling” smokers. Wilson believes in the power of scary imagery (his rule of thumb: “if it scares you it’s going to scare them”), but, as a former smoker, thinks the F.D.A.’s warnings would be more effective as straight text. “The extreme thing” to do, he says, would be to write, in the style of a poison warning, “Caution: contents will cause cancer,” and leave off the drawings. “Words are much more to the point,” he says.


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