My favourite warning photograph on cigarette packets is the one of the lady coughing up blood into a handkerchief. There is something terribly beguiling about the woman. I much prefer it to the chap blowing smoke into a baby’s face or the man staring forlornly at his own, apparently malfunctioning, penis.

When these images were first introduced I used to find it fun to collect them, much as I did football cards as a kid. It got to the point where the woman at the cigarette counter in my local supermarket would keep the rare ones back for me. “Would you like the man with a hole in his throat, the bloke with no legs, or the woman standing by her husband’s grave?”

Start your free trial to read the full story

Subscribe to Air Mail to access every article
and search our entire Arts Intel Report.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here.