U.S. cigarette packs have had warning labels for half a century.

So do we really need repeated reminders elsewhere that smoking tobacco is bad for us?

And if so, must those frequently disconcerting alarms be sounded while we're trying to enjoy football, food and drink?

How many other Rose Bowl viewers in these parts were put off their New Year's Day collards feed by a 30-second spot that ran late in the first quarter and just before the fourth began?

It opened with the words "Tip from a Former Smoker" printed in large white letters on a black screen.

We then saw a woman, with one side of her lower face disfigured, speaking in a painfully raspy tone through an artificial voice box inserted in her throat. Below her were the words "Terrie, 52, North Carolina."

Terrie's grim advice: "If you're a smoker, I have a tip for you. Make a video of yourself before all of this happens. Read a children's storybook. Sing a lullaby. I wish I had. The only voice my grandson's ever heard is this one."

Back to a black screen, where new white letters reported:

"Cancer from smoking killed Terrie. She was 53."

Then the next message: "You can quit. 1-800-Quit-Now. ... Free nicotine patches and gum are available to South Carolinians who do not have health insurance"

In small type at the bottom: "Brought to you by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control."

If that didn't depress Florida State fans, Oregon's 59-20 playoff-semifinal stomping of the Seminoles did.

Now here's a tip from this column: "Caveat emptor" (let the buyer beware).

Let the smoker - and the bowl game wagerer - beware, too.

Sure, upon further review, that ad gave powerfully wrenching testimony from the late Terrie Linn Hall, who died in September 2013. So that ad should save lives.

Then again, many Americans all too often fail to get all-too-obvious messages aimed at their own good.

After all, a local law enforcement big shot allegedly drove drunk last weekend despite the heavy holiday flow of stern "Sober or Slammer" commercials.

And in this land of liberty, many of us retain a libertarian impulse against being scolded into better habits.

For instance, in the Dec. 27 New York Times, columnist Roger Cohen hailed Berlin's Hotel Savoy because, as he wrote: "Out of the mists of time, emerging through the inhaled smoke, looms another age of laissez-faire before anyone ever dreamed of saying 'Stay safe' - most awful of salutation - and anyone discovered special dietary requirements; a time when kids roamed free and did not even know what a helmet was."

And: "Right next to reception is its cigar bar, where you can drink and smoke into the wee hours as the masters of espionage did back in Cold War days. The relief from sameness is overwhelming. I'll take the Savoy's tobacco smoke any day over the homogenization of the world."

And: "The importance of Oscar Wilde's 'redeeming vice' has been lost. ... So the Savoy, in its otherworldly smokiness, is a wonderful balm, an invitation to forget about time and be lifted into another. If there's a thought worth taking into 2015, it is perhaps that there are vices that redeem and help defeat the rush to sameness of a shrinking world."

Just don't try convincing those who have lost loved ones to smoking (in other words, nearly all of us) that it's one of the "vices that redeem."

But do keep trying to give smokers this basic tip:


If willpower doesn't work, try nicotine patches, gum or something else. If they don't work, try willpower again.

As former NFL and Georgetown High School coach Lou Saban (maybe a cousin of Alabama's Nick Saban - maybe not) memorably put it in an NFL Films clip while giving his Buffalo Bills a pep talk:

"You can get it done. You can get it done. What's more, you gotta get it done."

"You big dummy."

- Fred Sanford (played by Redd Foxx), relentlessly, to Lamont (Demond Wilson) on "Sanford and Son"

That demeaning term of disappointment came to agonized mind early Thursday.

Were you stunned later that evening to see four Florida State turnovers in one Rose Bowl quarter (the third) - then another in the fourth?

How about the shameful spectacle of two fumbled facts in one column?

Those hard, self-inflicted hits:

1) My New Year's Day column incorrectly wished Fritz Hollings, born on Jan. 1, 1922, a happy 92nd birthday. Make that a happy 93rd birthday. Do the this-is-now-2015 math.

2) The column also incorrectly listed Jan. 1, 1761 - instead of the actual Jan. 1, 1650 - as the date when Charles II was proclaimed king of Scotland. Contrary to the circumstantial evidence, I really did know better.

Double ouch.

And caveat lector (let the reader beware).

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.