On September 5, my cousin, Korin, died of lung cancer at the age of 57. Far too early. Her father died at the same age of emphysema . They were both heavy smokers. She leaves two grown sons, both great guys, her mother, two sisters and two brothers.
My parents and my sister both smoked. They stopped when my uncle, my mother’s brother, died. Unfortunately, my father and sister started again many years later, and I think it contributed to ther deaths as well, my father at 67 and my sister at 60.
If you read this blog regularly, you know that I often have issues with the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, but one of the things I support is his work to ban smoking in most public spaces,including restaurants, theaters and, most recently, city owned parks and beaches.
We ban narcotics without question because they are addictive and can often lead to death. Yet smoking which not only endangers the smoker, but harms anyone who is in the same space as the smoker is allowed.
Inhaling hot smoke is poisonous. It leads to lung diseases such as cancer and COPD. It causes heart and artery diseases and can often lead to kidney failure. There is nothing good about smoking. It is not cool.
Tobacco manufacturers load their products with nicotine, a highly addictive substance. Some believe it is nearly as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Yet, because the tobacco industry is politically strong, contributing huge donations to politicians of every persuasion, and because tobacco sales generate huge tax revenues, our legislatures do not do anything to take this poison off the market. The fact that the cost in lives and public health far exceed the combination of those tax revenues and donations seems to have little, if any, effect on these supposed legislative leaders. Some argue that if tobacco is banned, it will just become an underground product like hard drugs and marijuana. Perhaps that is true. However, if that happens, at least the smokers will have to indulge in their disgusting habit under cover and not blow their noxious fumes in the faces of others. At least it will protect me and others from having to breathe in their smoke when we are sitting in outdoor cafes or just simply taking a walk in the street.
In my generation, teens often took up smoking. We did not know of its dangers because the research was just starting. We probably should have figured it out by just seeing how most people who indulged had a smokers’ cough, something that shouldn’t have developed from doing something healthy. Tobacco companies back then often advertised their product as having beneficial effects, and they got away with their lies. Many of my generation thought it was cool to walk around with a cigarette hanging out of their mouths, thinking and acting like this made them cool. I didn’t.
Today, however, everyone knows that cigarettes kill. There is no reason that anyone should start smoking. There is no reason that this poison should be allowed to remain on the market. It kills. It killed my cousin and my uncle. It must be banned. It’s too late for my cousin, but it’s not too late for my kids, your kids and all of our grandchildren.