I bought a new car in November.
And according to the state of California it is going to kill me.
No, there are not defective air bags, the gas tank isn't prone to exploding in rear-end collisions, nor does the power steering system fail at highway speeds. And it's not a concern over the upswing in accidents and traffic fatalities.
The culprit is the new car smell. It's the odor that plastics, vinyl and various adhesives emit that dissipates after two to four months. Researchers haven't conclusively proved anything but they suspect there is a slight chance the odor could lead to cancer. So the state, in its infinite wisdom, requires new cars sold in California to warn consumers that the new car smell might cause cancer.
There are such warnings everywhere in the Golden State that are on new office chairs and wood furniture to kitty litter and ceramic plates. They're so prevalent they're like background noise. It's what happens when you take the Chicken Little approach to educate people about potential risks and treat everything that might have a slight chance of giving a 3.2-ounce white mouse cancer that you inject it with 10,000 times the amount of a particular substance that a 160-pound human would be exposed to in a given day.
But before you suggest I make out a last will and testament due to my wanton disregard of nanny state warnings, I'm not the one in trouble. I don't drink coffee.
If you have a cup or two of java or a Starbucks latte ever day apparently you are a dead man walking.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge in the coming months will rule on a lawsuit that started in 2010 over whether the use of acrylamide to roast coffee beans is used in sufficient amounts to possibly trigger cancer.
And you thought it was the daily cigarette with your grandfather's morning coffee that gave him cancer.
Actually folks who sell coffee lost the initial phase of the lawsuit several years ago. At that point some defendants backed out. One firm, 7-Eleven, paid $900,000 to the suing attorney and agreed to put up cancer warning signs in their various locations.
The litigants aren't going to stop until they shake down whoever they can for legal fees and a warning is slapped on every cup. On the bright side if that happens, Starbucks won't have any room on its cups for controversial inspiring messages given they will have to tell consumers what they are selling them might cause cancer.
Should the litigants prevail, the possibilities are endless for politically correct politicians in Sacramento as those who are elected to city councils in California's nation-cities such as Santa Cruz, Davis, Berkeley, and Richmond.
Taking a page from the anti-smoking and anti-soda crowds, another $2 could be slapped on coffee to fund things such as Early Childhood Education in the spirit of milking any vice by slapping sin taxes on it to fund unconnected pet political projects. Coffee could be banned in schools.
The state could impose a 50-cent a cup cost to go towards healthcare costs of longtime coffee drinkers on public assistance. Better yet, five cents of that 50-cent surcharge could go to fund public service advertising featuring cancer patients in intensive care so addicted to coffee that they have to have a cup while they are hooked up to diagnostic screens.
Cancer is not a joke. Yet the state is reducing it to that by the endless listing of products they have mandated the slapping of cancer warning labels on from whole leaf aloe vera to black licorice and smoked oysters.
And given the time and money such efforts such as the eight-year odyssey to essentially equate Folgers Coffee with Marlboro cigarettes takes, it dilutes resources and time going after proven sources of cancer.
Not to take away even a pinch of the travesty of anyone developing cancer, but there are 7.6 billion people in this world who are not cloned and who are not robots. The odds are that there are substances out there that in one way or another with contribute to someone's demise whether it is through cancer, another illness, or some other means.
That said, there are not infinite resources. And if you slap a cancer warning label on everything in sight as California has done with objects such as snow globes, potato chips, balsamic vinegar, leprechaun hats, and other commodities simply waters the message to the point it is useless.
Yes, those items might cause cancer but is it to such a degree that it should be a full-blown public health education campaign that ends up being useless because Proposition 65 warnings have become so prevalent in California?
There are a lot of things that can kill you if you consume too much or abuse it.
There are people who die each year from drinking too much water. One was 28-year-old Jennifer Strange who died from water intoxication in 2007 while participating in a Sacramento radio station's water chugging contest. Why wasn't there a rush to label water at its source or bought in bottles that it could kill you? Granted it wasn't cancer but it underscores the absurdity of labeling every possible thing that might give you cancer or kill you in some manner with a warning label.
Of course we could just cut to the chase and require all newborns come with birth certificates warning life can kill you.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.