RICHMOND (EAP) -- Philip Morris Inc. has been charged with blasphemy by several groups of conservative Christians after the company introduced a new warning message on their cigarette packages which says "Smoking can help you meet Jesus sooner."
The warning message was intended to indicate that people who smoke die sooner than those who don't, but it fell flat on its face, so it seems.
"We were trying to present the dangers of smoking in a more positive light," said Karen Reed, marketing director for Philip Morris.
"We never expected to receive such harsh ridicule from religious organizations because of the new label, especially since it was clear that we were presenting smoking as a health danger."
"This is a clear attempt to lure Christians into using tobacco products," said Joshua Randall, president of Christian Consumers For God, which keeps a close eye on all commercial advertising for signs of blasphemy against God and Jesus.
"We also keep an eye on alcohol advertisements and condom and other birth control advertisements," said Joel Finkleston, leader of one of the groups which has opposed the new cigarette warning label.
"We resent the negative implications, but are removing the new warning label despite our better judgement," said Mrs. Reed.
"Lord knows we don't need any more negative press or lawsuits at the current time. We have our hands full enough at the moment."
The label lasted only one month before it was pulled, and packages of cigarettes with the label are now being sold on Ebay as collectors items.
New labels which say "Smoking Kills" have replaced the previous label.