Flashback: If Smoking Doesn't Kill You, Superman Will. For the Government.


These days, everyone knows that smoking doesn't do any favors for their health. Back in the '80s, not so much. Over the years, government busybodies have adopted some questionable tactics to pressure people to kick the habit. Sometimes-humorous-sometimes-serious site Cracked just dug up a real gem on this front: the British government once aired a PSA warning kids that if the tobacco didn't kill them, Superman would.

From Cracked:

In one of the TV ads, Superman faces off against a new villain: Nick O'Teen, a presumably Irish rogue bent on getting kids hooked on cigarettes, which really doesn't seem so bad in the grand scheme of villainy.

Superman arrives to apprehend the villain (and we're using the term loosely, seeing as he's committing a misdemeanor at most), then takes him to the authorities and makes sure he gets the mental help he needs – or that's what would happen if Superman could be bothered to fill out the paperwork. He can't, so instead he just throws the guy into orbit.

If the shock didn't kill Nick O'Teen, something tells us the fall probably did. Lex Luthor gets a slap on the wrist for plotting to destroy the Earth, but if you try to give cigarettes to kids (for free!), then it's a terrifying death for you. …

Superman doesn't even stop to consider the circumstances that might have led Nick O'Teen to peddle cigarettes before murdering him.

Watch the video here. We can laugh it off  as a weird, old piece of nanny-state propaganda, but it's got an eerie resonance this month with the death of Eric Garner. The 46-year-old father of six was allegedly selling black market cigarettes, so cops choked and killed him. When it happens in real life, it sure doesn't sound as cool or as black-and-white as some superhero chucking some baddy-bad to his death. 

Bonus: Read Reason's coverage of the time a Cracked writer got interrogated by the Secret Service for a joke article.