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Marlboros, and the Face of Evil

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Has the tobacco industry discovered gold on YouTube?

If you want to gaze at the face of evil, check out this video. It's one of 63,000 videos on YouTube that deal with "smoking." This one features a young woman, Taylos87, who offers detailed instruction to young girls on how to learn to smoke. She reads a series of Q&As from cue cards, then ends the 9.5-minute video by displaying a pack of Marlboros, her favorite brand, manufactured by Altria's Philip Morris. Indeed, she promotes Marlboros throughout this video, which has been viewed over 34,000 times. ( Another of YouTube's pro-smoking videos has been viewed more than 360,000 times.)

Here's a sampling from Taylos87's primer:

Q.: "How old should I be before I start smoking? A.: You can start at any age. I've heard of 12-year-old girls that can get hooked. In the United States, it's illegal to smoke until you're 18, but there are people that smoke way younger than 13."

Q. "How much time does it take to get acclimated? A. My estimation is a week or two, depending on how much you smoke. You want to try to smoke 3 or 4 cigarettes a day. Put yourself on a little schedule, because, once again, if you smoke a couple of cigarettes on one day, and none the next, your body isn't going to get used to it. You can move up from 3-4 as you feel necessary. If you feel you want more cigarettes, go for it, there's nothing stopping you, you can totally do it."

Q: "My stomach gets upset when I smoke a whole cigarette. Am I just not cut out to smoke? A.: No, you are. Everyone can smoke if they want to. Put that cigarette out, and try again in another 30-45 minutes. You'll get the hang of it eventually, I promise."

Q.: "Will smoking truly help me keep my weight down? A.: It will. Some people, when they get bored, they like to snack. Instead of snacking, you can just have a cigarette."

Q. "What kinds of cigarettes are easiest to learn to smoke with? A. Either menthols or lights. Lights can burn your throat a little. If you've been having trouble with that, try menthol. It's kind of a cooler smoke that goes through the throat. So, it's easier to learn to inhale with."

It will take an enterprising journalist, or a Congressional subpoena, to track down whether or not tobacco companies are behind this and other pro-smoking videos on YouTube, in violation of the 1998 Tobacco Settlement, which banned the marketing of tobacco products to under-age youth. Question for the producers of these videos: how do you sleep at night?