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OPINION

Warning! This label is a waste of time

Ed Rood

The first warning label I can remember is one I found discarded in our kitchen trash. I believe I was about 10 years old at the time. It proved to be quite a traumatic experience – at least for a few minutes. 

My mother had recently bought a throw pillow. After assuring herself that it matched the decor of the living room, she had discarded the tag from the pillow. Why I was looking in the garbage I have no idea, but there it was: “DO NOT REMOVE TAG UNDER PENALTY OF LAW!” 

The thought of my mother spending time in jail was more than I could handle. I went running to my father to break the bad news. After a few minutes of laughter he explained that the tags could be removed by the purchaser but not by the seller. 

Ed Rood

That was a long time ago. Since then warning labels have become a big part of our lives. Some make sense; some do not. 

Probably the most notorious label in modern history was first placed on cigarette packages in 1964. They read something like: “WARNING! The Surgeon General has determined that cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health.” Wow, what a surprise! 

The fact that those labels are still around and many people still smoke shows how much faith some of us place in warning labels. Perhaps we should use the warning the British place on their cigarettes. It’s short, sweet and to the point: “Smoking Kills!” 

I guess we have lawyers to thank for the disposable coffee cup warning “Caution hot liquid inside; can cause injury.” It all boils down to McDonald's and the infamous lawsuit where they had to pay damages after someone spilled a cup of their coffee on her lap. 

I guess that’s all fine and dandy. If there are people out there who do not realize that spilling hot coffee on your lap is not a good idea, then they should be warned. 

I recently purchased a plastic bottle of pop which had a rather unique warning printed on its label. “WARNING! Contents under pressure. Cap may blow off causing eye or other serious injury. Point away from face and people, especially when opening.” 

Now that’s a warning for you. Makes you wonder what the warning label says that comes with a package of skyrockets. 

As you have probably surmised, I am not a big believer in warning labels. Sure, they have their place and I’m positive that the main reason we have so many of them is the fact that we have so many lawyers. 

With that said, I have to admit that there is one warning label I would like to see placed in every vehicle on the road today: “WARNING! No smoking allowed in this vehicle when children are present.” 

Probably wouldn’t do much good though. Anyone who would do that probably can’t read anyway. 

Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times.