Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Duh: Cigarettes Are Addictive

You know you're old if you ever made an ashtray in elementary school art class. When smoking was commonplace, every kid had a parent or grandparent who would appreciate a misshapen ashtray handcrafted out of clay. And so what if junior was living in a smoke filled house and doing his part to enable the toxic activity?

In 1950 it was estimated that more than half of the United States' population smoked, and smoking was permitted just about everywhere. Hell, they even handed out free cigarettes at medical health meetings!

It took us quite a while to agree that tobacco was bad -- very bad. But the 1965 Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act requiring the famous Surgeon General's Warnings heralded a 40 year decline in smoking. Now, only about 21% of the U.S. adult population smokes. But that decline has leveled off in the last 5 years.

Time to bring out the big guns. The FDA has decided that cigarettes should come wrapped in gruesome medical photos. Check them out for yourself: rotten teeth, gravestones, tracheotomies, body tags, and heart attacks in action. I don't know what to think. They are attention getting for sure. But isn't it already general knowledge that smoking is dangerous? If I were a smoker, I think I'd be so distressed at those grim images that I'd need another smoke!

And what about the coolness in the gruesomeness? I'm afraid the pictures may take on a "collect them all" kind of challenge to the too-hip-to-care crowd, otherwise known as teenagers.

But according to ABC News, "previous studies suggest that graphic health warnings displayed in other countries worked better than text warnings to motivate smokers to quit, and nonsmokers not to start."

I hope they are right. I honestly wish there was something that could convince that remaining 21% to cease smoking and the next generation to never start the nasty habit.
"Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, causing an estimated 438,000 deaths - or about 1 out of every 5 - each year." — National Cancer Institute.
Three months ago a distant cousin, age 40 and a 2-1/2 pack-a-day smoker, died of throat cancer. Once he was diagnosed, he was given a year to live, but died within a month. Rest in peace, Glenn. I wish I knew you better.


pinkpackrat said...

What a fabulous post. I couldn't agree more and I am a former two pack a day smoker who made a few ashtrays in summer camp for my smoking parents.

Thanks for the memories. I quit over a decade ago and it wasn't easy but I am soooooo glad I did.

Kristen said...

You probably added many years to your life by quitting. I was amazed to read that just 24 hours after quitting, the risk of a heart attack decreases!