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Cigarettes, booze and cell phones. Oh my!

Stop the madness. That's what regulators try to do.

Smoking's a health risk. So the federal government put warnings on packs of cigarettes. It hasn't worked, people still smoke and now the government wants more graphic warnings on packs of cigarettes.

That won't work either.

I'm reminded of the old booze ads, which were known to contain subliminal images of skeletons in ice cubes. Did that spooky image deter drinking? Nope. It actually helped increase liquor sales.

The lesson here? Americans seem to be OK with a little risk in their lives.

Now Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is leading an effort to deter the use of cell phones and texting while driving. He even wants to put the kibosh on hands-free calls while driving.

I, for one, applaud this.

I agree with LaHood that talking on the phone while driving, even hands-free, is a distraction. I was broadsided once by a woman who blew through a red light she said she never saw. She was talking hands-free on her cell phone. Just like smoking and drinking too much, cell phone use while driving is dangerous behavior that puts the driver and others at risk.

This is not in dispute: Millions of people have died from smoking-related causes, alcohol can and has lead to liver failure, and some 5,400 people died last year due to distracted driving.

But I figure those facts don't resonate. No one thinks it'll happen to them -- until it does.

So LaHood is ridiculed.

And this dynamic of human nature makes him the Sisyphus of driver safety.

Wish I could buy him a drink.

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