By Matt B. Walen
I, as the news editor at the Daily News, get to read tons of different news stories that the Associated Press churns out across this great country and the rest of this marvelous world.
There are many sick and twisted stories that electronically bounce across my screen each day. There are also some wonderful human-interest stories that are very uplifting, but these stories are usually greatly outnumbered by the bizarre.
Story selection for the limited space in each days edition of the Daily News can be extremely difficult some times. Some days we have tons of great stories, both locally generated and those we pull off of the AP wire.
One we didnt get to run, but I saved for this very spot involves cigarettes, an 800 number and undying love.
I have never liked anything that the tobacco industry represents. Big tobacco is part of the agriculture industry, but its product has been scientifically proven to kill some of its users. Thats why there are those cute little warning labels on cigarette and chewing tobacco ads about cancer.
If anyone thinks Im supporting the tobacco industry in this column in any way or trying to get our youth hooked on smokes dont smoke cigarettes, they will kill you.
Besides that, Im allergic to them and the smoke hurts my sinuses.
But there was a story on the wire recently about one of the major players in the big tobacco game that made me chuckle.
The AP reported that the folks who make Kools, Carltons and Lucky Strikes smokes had something to confess to their fellow inhalers they are in love with the smokers.
And theres even an 800 number to prove it.
We, the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., are in love with you, a male voice gushes after you dial the 1-800-578-7453 toll-free number.
I would encourage everyone smokers and smart people to take a few minutes, dial the number and enjoy the cool, relaxing advertising-speak about big tobaccos love for the consumers who are still alive to purchase cigarettes.
Callers have to be 21 years old (wink, wink) to listen to the message and there is an age verification check before the proclamation of love begins.
Were a giant corporation and you make us feel like a little kitten, the male voice continues. Thank you, lover.
Oh yeah, theres some great piano music playing in the background making the whole experience, well, memorable.
Tobacco critics warned in the AP story that people shouldnt take to the 800 message and that the third-largest tobacco company is only doing the love message to get more money. Sounds to me that the critics are just as dumb as the people who line up to buy cigarettes.
Its really ludicrous that any cigarette company would attempt to befriend their customers by telling them how much they love them, when in fact what they love about the customer is that he or she is going to become addicted to a product for the rest of their lives, said Ahron Leichtman, executive director for Citizens for a Tobacco-free Society, based in Cincinnati.
Really? Gosh, thanks Mr. Leichtman.
B&W spokesman Joe Helewicz told the AP that the company wanted to have fun with the number, which connects callers to the consumer-information center at its Louisville headquarters.
But the company isnt going to keep the 800-number lover campaign around forever. So, if you want a great laugh, you better call soon before big tobacco extinguishes the campaign.
One final jab at its competitors is in the closing comments on the recorded message By the way, the other tobacco companies hate you and think youre ugly, the male voice says. They told us so.
I hate everything to do with smoking, well, because it can kill a person. But this small humorous gesture may put a smile on your face like it did mine.