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Warning: Don’t eat the lip balm

Submitted by on Monday, 30 November 2009 2 Comments

I thought nothing could ever top the warning the eyeglass cleaner at work used to carry: Do not use on contact lenses.

That was before last weekend, when I bought a box of lip balm that carried five lines of disclaimers:

Warning: Not to be eaten. Use only as directed. Avoid eye area. For external use only. Discontinue use if rash, redness or itching occurs. Consult  your physician if irritation persists. Keep out of reach of children. For ages 8 and up. Parental supervision is advised.

And,  yes, there are directions, too:  Apply smoothly and evenly to lips.

Wow. It makes me glad I buy lip balm by the eight pack. It would take 1-point type to fit all of that on a tube and they’d still have to throw in a complementary magnifying glass that would cost more than the lip balm.

At least now I have an excuse to protect my stash from the guys. Sorry, kids. You’re not old enough to  have it. It says so right there on the box. Read it yourself if you don’t believe me.

Seriously, have we reached the point where a manufacturer needs to tell  us that lip balm isn’t food? Or that we have to watch over  6-year-olds when they use it?

I can  imagine the meeting that led to the label. “OK, folks, we want you to think up every possible way this product could be misused so we can have the lawyers craft a warning to go on the box. We don’t want people abusing lip balm and suing us.”

I can already hear the tort-reform set pointing to the warning as yet another reason we need stricter laws to protect good corporate citizens from frivolous lawsuits from parents who fail to adequately supervise first-graders eager to soothe their chapped lips.

Except this warning just defies common sense. “Avoid eye area”? People, it’s called lip balm for a reason.

And it’s not as if there’s been a rash of lip-balm litigation. The only lawsuit I can find in recent years involved lipstick that contained lead. There are several other stories about the addictive powers of lip balm, describing it as particularly insidious because it’s socially acceptable to give it to young children.

Look for that one on a Red Ribbon Week list next year. Meanwhile, please, read the label carefully before using lip balm or any other hazardous substance. The life you save might be your own.

As for me, I’m going to stick a tube up my nose and call a lawyer. The box didn’t say I couldn’t use lip balm as a decongestant. How was I to know?

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Genevieve said:

    LOL!!! I wonder if gum is labeled with the warning of ‘do not swallow.’ That’s the warning I always got — that it stayed in your stomach for 7 years.

  • Debra said:

    I’ve always been a gum-swallower, too. My husband freaks out when Big Guy does it, but I figure it’s just genetic memory.