Saturday, March 24, 2007

JMO - Smoking

I know many people have views and opinions on smoking, smokers and the tobacco companies. I usually sit quietly listening to the rants against people who smoke and the companies promoting smoking. I don't offer my view because, frankly, while I agree with some parts of their view, I don't agree with the tone or tune to their view. Why, if smoking is so bad, I'm against all the anger against the companies and many of the people?

Well, my brother smoked two packs a day for over 30 years, and even smoked a cigarette minutes before dying of a heart attack at home. My ex-wife smoked for over a decade before stopping in her late 20's. I'm not against smoking except in my home and car. And while I support non-smoking rules in public buildings and spaces and places where the smoke can or will effect non-smokers such as airplanes, and I support designated non-smoking areas restaurants, I'm for smokers to have rights and places not so badly designated to make it hard to smoke. Can't we be decent here?

I've never smoked except my first cigarette as a kid and hated it, and later for a few years with cigars and pipes (ah, our youthful experiments), and marijuana for a number of years in my 20's, I haven't smoked for nearly 30 years. But I'm not against smokers being giving public places to smoke better than we've treated them. And I'll anger the rest of you even more. I'm not against advertising cigarettes similar to alcohol. Why? Let's get real here.

We allow advertising an equally devasting drugs, such as alcohol and prescription drugs. We allow advertising products which inflict more harm on people, like cars, even to the point of allowing dangerous use of them in videos, TV and movies, in magazines, and so on. So what's the difference? Why not control advertising on cigarettes like alcohol with notices on the dangers just like the packages? Isn't it time we let the consumer take responsbility for their own actions? I don't buy the argument that an individual after a number of years doesn't know the dangers of smoking, and has a case against the company.

I am for the tobacco industry supporting the health care of smokers as the courts and State's have settled in their legal disputes. It's not fair I should pay for something a person should know better. My ex-wife is a respiratory therapist, the reason she quit smoking, and she's seen them all. It's not a pretty sight pumping someone's lungs from smoking for a long time, and they face a life of restrictions from breathing. But who's to blame here? And who should pay?

It's boils down to the common good. We all know smoking is bad, but so are almost everything we do in life, and we all pick up the checks. I'm not really against the health insurance companies paying for the effects from smoking, with the industry's financial help, because they cover a lot of other things we don't or won't get but others will. It's part of the whole of our society, and needs to be addressed with a national health care system of public and private insurers.

And the tobacco companies? That's another story, but we've lived through the worst times, so it's time we lighten up on them and just ensure they're good corporate citizens. After all, they're advertising around the world, especially in the Far East and China where they're new consumers are. I don't support the ban on them by Europe or the US, but I would support some reasonable control on their advertising and activities into some markets like kids. Otherwise, they're no better or worse than other companies and industries, and sometimes even better than many at international rights.

Just my one and only take on this issue.

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