Chet Baker Wouldn't Smoke a Pussy Cigarette Like Camel Blues

The real outrage about this new Camel cigarette promotion isn't that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. is trying to peddle cancer to would-be hipsters using images like the Williamsburg Bridge. This is directly in line with the industry's goal of creating nicotine addicts out of adolescents of all ages. No, the real insult is that these new "Mad Men" marketers who think they are so clever are pushing phony brands like Camel Lights, now renamed Camel Blues, as the product of choice. If they had the courage of their convictions, they would be mass-marketing the real thing: unfiltered cigarettes. Does anyone believe ultimate hipster icon Chet Baker sat around puffing on filtered cigarettes? He did not. He smoked unfiltered Camels, Luckies, or perhaps the long-version Pall Malls. He understood the basic rule of smoking, which is if you are going to cut your wrists, why use a rusty razor blade?

Camel's Williamsburg promotion was first reported yesterday by The Brooklyn Paper's Aaron Short, a reporter who proves his own claims to hipsterdom by showing up in a bowtie to press conferences and being regularly berated by Vito Lopez.

Today the Wall Street Journal repeats the story along with a quote from city health commissioner Thomas Farley who says it is "cynical for a tobacco company to launch a branding scheme that tries to exploit the life and energy of our streets to market an addictive product."

Yes, yes, this is true. But the more effective response is to call a spade a spade, and point out that this is a campaign of cowards who are afraid to put their best product forward. The fact is that unfiltered Camels and Lucky Strike cigarettes are as good as heroin, which is why junkies like Chet Baker smoked them. And you should too. They are the real thing, and if you want to die please don't pussycat around wasting our time.

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