Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 31, 2005
Columnist is smoking mad
Her son puffs cigs and she is angry the government lets smoking continue
By SUZANNE ELSTON
We have become a society of apologists. In the new universe of political correctness, there is an infinite number of stories, each balanced to reflect the cultural and sexual diversity of our great country. And if by chance we find something even remotely offensive or unsettling, the new society's rules dictate that it's not ours to complain. We are one.
In this society paralyzed by the fear that we might offend somebody, anybody, it is no wonder that we feel disenfranchised, powerless.
To give an absurd example: not too long ago a neighbor's pitbull made repeated visits to our home. While I had a pretty good idea that the dog was harmless, I didn't want to risk testing my idea first hand. And then one day, the dog found its way to my kitchen window, where it began jumping up and down, as if he was trying to see what I was making for dinner.
Calls 911 about a dog
Unwilling to tackle the dog myself, I called 9-1-1. The officer who responded captured the dog and had it safely locked in the back of his cruiser when he approached the house to let me know that, "The situation was under control."
When I mentioned that I was troubled by the fact that the dog in question was a pitbull, he stopped me dead. "Lady, you can't assume that just because the dog's a pitbull that you and your family were in danger. That's discrimination."
I was speechless. Those who fought (and died) to eliminate discrimination in our society would be horrified to think that their struggles could be so trivialized as to be equated with various breeds of dog. But this is just one example of where those things that we know are bad for us continue to exist simply because it's their right.
Well I think it high time to use a little inspiration from Paddy Chaffesky's movie, Network, and proclaim, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.
So, what am I mad as hell about? My hatred-du-jour is heaped upon the tobacco industry and the governments that allow them to continue - despite the overwhelming evidence that cigarettes not kill only those who smoke, but those unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity of their smoke.
Public health issue
This isn't about personal choice. Smoking is a worldwide public health issue. About three million people die from tobacco-related diseases each year. Within 30 years the number of tobacco-related deaths will rise to about 10 million per year. This will make tobacco the number one cause of premature death in the world.
According to National Clearinghouse on Tobacco and Health, "Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke also poses serious risks to health. Adults who live with a smoker have a 30 per cent greater chance of getting lung cancer and a 20 to 30 per cent increased risk of dying of heart disease. Children regularly exposed to tobacco smoke (www.camh.net/otru/pdf/special_ets_eng.PDF) have a higher risk of developing various health problems, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections and asthma."
So what? As my son likes to remind me, as long as he's over 19 he can buy cigarettes. After all, if he smokes, there's only a 25 per cent chance that tobacco's going to kill him.
Sure, smoking kills more people in this country than HIV/AIDS, car accidents, murder, suicide and illegal drug use combined.
Sure, half of all regular smokers will eventually die from their addiction, most before their natural time, but, at 19 he figures he's got time.
Maybe not. What I do know for sure is that I'm not prepared to have my life taken away by tobacco smoke - first or second hand, just because tobacco manufacturers continue to have the right to sell their products.
Fortunately I am not alone in my angst. A brilliant new anti-smoking campaign, sponsored by the Ontario government is raw, edgy and not even a tiny bit politically correct. Stupid.ca tells it like it is in print, television and on the stupid.ca website. No apologies required.
Check out www.stupid.ca.
Visit the National Clearinghouse on Tobacco and Health at www.ncth.ca.
Check out www.zoot2.com - a site dedicated to becoming addiction free.
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