You'd have to be a hermit to ignore the growing number of cigarette smoking bans across westernized countries. Not a single ban is the result of chance...but all are the result of diligent work and lobbying campaigns by anti-smoking advocates.
Some cities in the United States have banned both indoor and outdoor smoking. Smokers could be fined up to $100 for lighting up outside in a dark alley. Some apartment buildings in New York City prohibit smoking in residential (private) apartments, and thus, may not only refuse to lease an apartment to a smoker, but reserve the right to evict the tenant if s/he takes up the habit while in residence.
A growing number of employers too in the United States have devised methods (personality tests) to determine whether or not a potential new-hire candidate smokes cigarettes...suspicion alone or an affirmation to the question keeps the candidate out of a job. Are these rules and habits fair, or do they create an illusion that by not smoking cigarettes you will live forever? Better yet, is this the most important issue facing the world today?
In the latest research on cigarette smoking, Norwegian scientists said that even by smoking one cigarette per day -- you will die, plain and simple: Quit now or die, they said. What the scientists did not say is that their conclusion is 100 percent true...with or without a cigarette per day.
Professor Sir Richard Peto said at a cancer conference in Birmingham, United Kingdom, in October 2005 that developing countries were likely to be hit hardest with smoking-related deaths in coming decades and the world must act now to prohibit smoking in those nations.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer says 5 million per year die from smoking and the death rate must be snuffed out immediately worldwide. Smoking will kill 1 billion during the 21st century said Peto. Put into perspective, the world population in year 2099 is estimated to be about 11 billion, and at that time almost all of today's 6.3 billion humans will already have died (save some of today's babies of course.)
If you read the news headlines alone, it could be assumed that putting one cigarette to your lips will immediately kill you. And if you sniff-up someone else's smoke only once, you cut your life expectancy by half; in other words it is all over, forget retiring you will just die at age 37.
The anti-smoking lobby, itself a behemoth of corporate culture, is worth about $26 billion annually, and therefore has the power to fund experiments, research, and advertising campaigns. Looking at numbers their scientists use to grab news headlines gives a different perspective than the initial press conference.
First; the second-hand smoke figure, which is the leading cause of smoking bans across the United States and now in Europe. If a non-smoker hangs around smokers for a long period of time, 10 consecutive years in a smoke-filled room at a standard 40-hours per week, the risk of developing lung cancer from breathing in a lot of other people's smoke is 1 out of 1,000. In fact, the figure is so low it is impossible to tell whether or not that risk is actually related to other factors; environmental pollution, diet, or genetic predisposition.
Second, the real numbers on smokers show that teens who pick up the habit and smoke until age 30 run the risk of developing lung cancer by 2 percent, which is 2 in 100 (a figure still too low to determine if other factors were actually the cause.) A 40-year veteran smoker stands an 8 percent chance of developing lung cancer due primarily to smoking, which is 8 in 100. If you are a life-long smoker, at age 70, the risk you'd die of lung cancer is 16 percent or 16 out of 100. However...you have a 100 percent chance of dying, no matter what you do. Does death at 74 prevent a prolonged death due to other, more painful causes at age 93? Science can not answer for what is already determined by your genes.
We can't make up the numbers --science does give some sound statistics-- but the missing link should be found before tagging a remote case as reason for all. How much does McDonalds' fast-food habits contribute to cancer, what will be the affects of long-term cell-phone use to the body? Questioning these methods however do not make for interesting headlines. McDonalds and the cell phone companies will make sure such blasphemous headlines stay out of the hometown newspapers they use to advertise their services.
Anti-smoking advocates (at least in the United States) have successfully legislated bans on tobacco advertising. Selling the idea that "prevention saves you from death" is a banner head that grabs attention and sells advertising spaces...of non-tobacco related products.
Research results for the biology of the human body concludes that cancer in some form is what likely ends all our lives after age 70, with some bodies surviving longer than others. The mental health of the patient is the second greatest factor, not his/her habits.
No one could argue smoking cigarettes is the best idea for one's general physical health, although eating at McDonalds three times per day must be worse and that habit faces no ban. But should someone's choice inside their own home be legislated?
Does regulating one's choice to smoke open the doors of regulating how often we could visit McDonalds, or lead to banning the entertainment we chose to watch?
Should the average "westernized" nightclub or "private club" be regulated as non-smoking when in fact these businesses serve as the primary meeting places for recreational (illegal) drug buys? Where do the anti-alcohol abuse advocates or HIV-prevention activists stand on private nightclubs? Patrons may drink and engage in risky sexual behavior in these clubs, but smokers are prohibited from lighting-up.
Has smoking (cigarettes) become the world's most important mission at this point in time? Where are everyone's priorities?
The ban craze is a simple measure...enough headlines result in scaring people into action; however, even the risks of smoking have not quelled the habit in the past 10 years. In developing nations in fact, smoking cigarettes is growing more popular as the researcher Peto said. No more or less people in the United States are smoking cigarettes today than was the case in 1996.
Where is the research study determining why people smoke cigarettes in the first place? Banning tobacco ads have not ended cigarette smoking as anti-smoking activists predicted. Teen smoking has waned 6 percent in 20 years, however the threshold doesn't drop below 12 percent in the best of cases.
Why aren't the good activists seeking to better understanding teen or adult habits, which lead to smoking cigarettes?
(Answer: Too much work, not immediate, no headlines.)
Is smoking a genetic habit?
(Answer: No. Smoking cigarettes is a choice unlike bodily addictions to food or sex.)
Are the chemicals of a tobacco leaf the root of the problem? Nicotine by itself does not cause lung cancer, and in fact is proven to be a stimulant, (which is ironic considering many smokers say they light-up to relax, not to create new mathematical equations.)
Are the chemicals inserted into cigarettes and regulated by federal authorities the real problem? (If the answer is yes, anti-smoking activists would have to attack the penniless government instead of the wealthy tobacco companies.) Research is not conclusive, and results run the risk of proving anti-smoking activists wrong.
Why do people smoke: Are they bored? Are they depressed? Are they nervous? All of those factors are related to one's environment and not to cigarettes.
Why not ban stress? Why not ban boredom? Why not simply lock-up depressed people in mental health facilities until they can become as happy as the anti-smoking activists?
Asking these questions might seem outrageous, but they are important nonetheless if the activists are really working (squeaking loudly) to help human kind "kick the habit."
How many people die from alcohol each year? The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency says about 110,000 die each year in the United States due to alcohol-related causes, although they add that the number may be significantly higher as affects from alcohol abuse can linger long after drinkers "kick the habit."
About 365,000 die each year on tobacco-related causes, says the government, which again, does not calculate genetic predisposition to those causes, and does not factor in old age as cause of death. In other words, Mary Doe dies at 92 of lung cancer, and her death is attributed to "smoking," not that her time was up. Marijuana advocates say there are no deaths related to smoking weed, and yet marijuana is illegal; whereas cigarettes and alcohol are legal.
Did you know that more than half of alcohol related deaths in 2003 (63,718) were due to binge drinking? John Doe decided after dinner one night to swallow a gallon of Jack Daniels with his buddies, and oops...he drowned his sorrow in booze and died. Too bad.
Doe's death may have been preventable, but no one helped him. The anti-abortion advocate, National Right to Life group, reports 1,312,990 (preventable) abortions in the United States for 2003. Even with 400,000 (if scientifically proven to be true) cigarette-related deaths occurring each year in the United States, that figure is one-third of preventable abortion deaths...and yet abortion is not banned.
What each of us face eventually is not preventable, even if modern science enables us to live 139 years. We will still die. Period.
Roughly 2.5 million is the average number of deaths (not including abortions) in the United States for the past four years running, which includes all adult forms of death.
More than 11,000,000 children die each year worldwide due to malnutrition and disease, according to the World Health Organization. Malnutrition is not banned...where are the headlines for preventable causes of malnutrition? Where are the activists to lobby Congress on preventing the deaths of (emotively loveable term) "innocent babies" dying from starvation?
Anti-smoking activists say neither malnutrition nor abortion are their problems to fix...just stop smoking so that you don't die...ever. Think & Ask the next time you hear about a smoking ban: Is the personal choice of those 1-in-4 important enough to consider --given the lack of research-- or should the focus of funding and legislation be upon better research and understanding root causes of someone lighting a cigarette in the first place?
---This content is copyrighted by Think & Ask, reproduction of any kind is not permitted without written consent.---