Category: Unconventional Letter, Stamp

Client: University of Memphis (student project)



This letter, written by the Grim Reaper, serves as a thank you note to the Altria Group (a leader in the tobacco industry) for making the Reaper's job easier. Although the letter is playful and sarcastic, its content has very serious connotations. By using actual cigarettes as a vehicle for the letter, the reader is confronted with the overwhelming smell of tobacco and is forced to participate in the act of rolling the cigarette as they unravel the scroll to read it.

Dear Altria Group,


I’ve been watching you for a while now, and I must say… I like the way you think. You, sirs, are masters of business, and by business, of course, I mean death. Believe me, I would know. You don’t get where I’ve gotten without knowing a thing or two about expiration. And I’ve gotta hand it to you, you’ve got talent. Over 400,000 deaths a year? One hundred million deaths last century? Bra-vo! I mean, seriously. The things you do with tobacco… Man! I wish I was that clever!


Sure, you’ve got cigarettes (and, don’t get me wrong, almost 5,000 deadly chemicals in one little stick is nothing to scoff at), but YOU are some tricky bastards! Light up one of those things, and you got what’s comin’ to ya (after all, they don’t call ‘em “cancer sticks” for nothin’). But stand next to one, and you might as well be smoking! Just breathing it in causes almost 3,500 lung cancer deaths and 46,000 heart disease deaths a year. And that’s for adults who don’t even smoke! But, hey, let’s not forget about the kids. Kudos on the hundreds of thousands of respiratory infections, thousands of hospitalizations, and hundreds of sudden infant deaths caused by secondhand smoke each year. I couldn’t have done it better myself. By the way, congratulations on having secondhand smoke classified as a human carcinogen by the EPA. Beautiful thing, that cancer! And your products cause all kinds of it. Lung cancer. Throat cancer. Stomach cancer. The list goes on and on. Then, of course, there’s other diseases too. Leukemia. Pneumonia. Bronchitis. Sickness… you gotta love it. Slow. Painful. Fun. It’s really the only way to go. Seems like your specialty, too.


You boys sure know what you’re doin’. Number one on the list of preventable deaths in the U.S.? Huge accomplishment. You’d think people’d stay away from something so deadly, but you guys are great. Masters of manipulation! Over 35 million dollars a year spent on advertising must be doing something right. Reel ‘em in with a pretty picture, make ‘em think they’re cool, and you’ve got ‘em for life (which, thanks to you guys, won’t even be that long).  That’s the beauty of addiction, eh? Once you pick it up, it aint so easy to put it back down again. One tiny little death warrant after another, and it’s practically written on every cigarette. Of course, people don’t see it unless it’s all laid out in front of ‘em. And by then, it’s too late!


Anyway, what am I rambling about? You guys know exactly what you’re doing. Just wanted to say thanks for doing all the dirty work for me.


Yours truly,

Grim Reaper