"Well, here we go again," said one vice president at a large American tobacco company, during a joint interview with several colleagues given over speakerphone, under the condition of anonymity. "Now we've got to come up with another damned cartoon character."
"That could take the whole weekend," another executive added, noticeably peeved.
The new report, published in Chemical Research in Toxicology, shows that cancer-causing chemicals form rapidly in the body just 15 to 30 minutes after smoking a single cigarette.
"It's disturbing, to say the least," said Dr. Francis Spitznagel of the Pew Research Center, who worked on the study. "It turns out the idea of just having one cigarette is similar to the concept of just drinking one bottle of Draino, or just huffing one canister of radon.
"Although you'd be surprised at how often both of those things happen," he added.
The study also found that prolonged exposure to so-called "tobacco rays," which cigarettes emit through their packaging, can eventually turn humans into gray-skinned, sallow-cheeked troglodytes. "Which would explain most of the country's convenience store clerks," noted Spitznagel.
Spitznagel said the study stopped short of reporting even more severe findings, but that further research would probably soon yield conclusive proof of the long-rumored "Spielberg Effect," wherein one puff of your first cigarette causes your entire face to melt off, like the Nazi at the end of Raiders Of the Lost Ark.
"That's much more rare, of course," Spitznagel added. "One in 1,000, tops."