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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fw: Tom's Pen, 06-25-2012, A New Generation of Tobacco Addicts

The war between the tobacco industry and those who are fighting for a
smoke-free society is, once again, in the news. A number of years ago the
tobacco industry lost a major class action law suit on behalf of individuals
who suffered the harmful effects of smoking and/or other tobacco related
health issues. Involved in the lawsuit were health organizations, government
entities, and a number of individuals. As a result the tobacco industry
agreed to pay billions of dollars in health related benefits in order to
ward off a complete defeat [of course the lawyers got the biggest piece of
the pie, but that is a matter for a different article]. Included in the
agreement was the removal of any advertizing that appeals especially to
youth. Also included in the settlement was an agreement that cigarette
packages would need to include wording that was a little more forceful as to
the harmful effects of smoking and chewing tobacco. It would no longer be
acceptable to simply say, "Smoking may be harmful to your health." The legal
settlement would require that the tobacco industry give a more stern and
detailed warning: "Caution: Smoking causes heart disease, stroke, lung
cancer" - or something to that effect. Fast forward to this century. The
latest requirement coming out of Washington among those who are "reputed to
be somewhat" is that pictures of the lungs and other diseased parts of the
body must appear on each pack of cigarettes. Warnings will increasingly
become more forceful in an effort to, hopefully, move us toward a more smoke
free society. Already cities and states are passing stiff regulations
forbidding smoking in public places. California has become the first state
to pass restrictions on smoking in the privacy of one's own home. But the
tobacco industry is not taking this laying down. It ! would appear, however,
that the tobacco industry has, in the words of an old Timex Watch
commercial, "taken a likin' and keeps on tickin'." In return for this new
round of restrictions and package warnings, the tobacco industry will be
allowed to continue to sell their product. We are somewhat naive if we think
the tobacco industry will now ignore the youth. You can be certain that each
generation must be targeted and new customers must be won over in spite of
the obvious ill effects of using tobacco, if the tobacco companies are going
to survive. To be sure, they will find a way. In return, the next generation
will pay the price of its habit, and smokers and non-smokers alike will
continue to suffer from the sale of tobacco on the public market. Take a
look around! We are seeing a new generation of young people picking up the
habit. It is a great mystery to me why teens begin smoking today in view of
the abundant evidence that proves that smoking is harmful to on! e's health.
Do they not care? Do they not know? We are growing a ne w generation of
tobacco addicts right before our noses (no pun intended). In spite of all
the evidence to the contrary, hundreds of teens are picking up the habit
every day! It would appear that over the last couple of decades we have
relaxed our efforts to inform and warn our youth about the dangers of using
tobacco, and peer pressure has introduced many a teen to the habit. The
following statements appear on the Center for Disease Control web site:

). These statistics are two years old:

Smoking and smokeless tobacco use are initiated and established primarily
during adolescence. More than 80% of adult smokers begin smoking before 18
years of age. Additionally, adolescent smokeless tobacco users are more
likely than nonusers to become adult cigarette smokers.Youth cigarette use
declined sharply during 1997 - 2003. Since that time, rates have declined
far more slowly.

Youth smokeless tobacco use also declined in the late 1990s and early 2000s,
but an increasing number of U.S. high school students in some subgroups
(such as white males) have reported using smokeless tobacco products in
recent years.

In addition, the CDC makes this staggering observation: "Each day in the
United States, approximately 3,800 young people under 18 years of age smoke
their first cigarette, and an estimated 1,000 youth in that age group become
daily cigarette smokers." Did you catch the word "daily"? Multiply that out;
at the end of one year 1,387,000 new youth under age 18 will be introduced
to the smoking world and a staggering 365,000 will become daily cigarette
smokers! This does not include the use of cigars or chewing tobacco.

A few months back I received my gas bill from ATMOS energy. Included in the
bill was a pamphlet which warned against the danger of carbon monoxide. Most
folks associate carbon monoxide with the emissions that come from the
automobile exhaust. Natural gas, when burned, also emits carbon monoxide,
and hence the need to make sure that gas stoves, ovens, etc. are well
ventilated. I thought it amusing that this safety pamphlet also warned
against cooking on an open grill in an enclosed room, something I don't
recall ever having seen anyone do. Now before you accuse me of being an
environmentalist wacko, or a stock holder in ATMOS, let me assure you that
my reason for bringing up this whole matter goes much deeper than public
relations. Did you know that one of the effects of smoking tobacco is the
input of carbon monoxide into your body? This little pamphlet enlightened me
to the fact that carbon monoxide does its damage by limiting the amount of
oxygen that can be take n into the blood cells. In short, when we breath
carbon monoxide into the body, we deprive our bodies of the life giving
oxygen needed by the brain. Too much carbon monoxide can, in fact, be
deadly. So why in the world would anyone want to voluntarily pick up a habit
that, among other things, endangers their brain by depriving it of oxygen? I
guess one of the puzzling mysteries of life is why the younger generation is
picking up the tobacco habit at such an alarming rate in spite of the
abundance of evidence that such is harmful to the body. I can only conclude
that they are doing so either (1) because they do not believe the evidence,
or (2) they simply do not care. I have been tempted to stop some teenager on
the street, who I observe smoking, and ask them why in the world they want
to smoke. It is a proven fact (and something which the CDC site confirmed)
that if an individual does not pick up the habit of smoking before they are
21, the odds that he will do so ! at all are quite remote. The same might be
said with regard to drinking and drug use. In other words, if the tobacco
industry is going to get someone to use their product, or if the brewing
industry is to gain new customers among the up-coming generation, they MUST
TARGET the young. This they are doing, all denials to the contrary not
withstanding. When examined in the light of God's word the irresistible
conclusion is that smoking is wrong, Wrong, WRONG. The child of God should
put forth every effort to break the habit. With God's help it CAN be done.
Even more, with God's help, it MUST be done.

Tom Wacaster

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