Last I checked, it’s 2018. The human race has come a long way over its checkered history, building up vast storehouses of scientific facts and information. All our increased knowledge has led to increased wisdom, right? Not so fast, blog-breath. For some unknown reason or reasons, there are still people out there—a lot of people—who just don’t get it.
Take, for example, the continual morbid parade of those who drink and drive and kill. All our intellectual growth has managed to do is give us new ways to kill while we drive: Now we can be stone sober and kill while texting. We know it’s crazy. We know it’s deadly, but we still do it! At least drunks can claim that they didn’t know what they were doing when they got behind the wheel. Texters are just plain foolhardy.
I know a lot of folks who don’t take recycling seriously. Do they think the world has unlimited resources and dumping grounds? Do they not have children who will have to deal with the results of their negligence? And while I’m on the subject, why are companies still producing plastics without recycling symbols?
If you have MS or another mobility issue, you can freely attest to the fact that many people continue to unnecessarily and illegally take up handicap parking spots. I’ve seen cars occupying two spaces at a time. Now that’s despicable, and not in a cute, animated way.
Worst of all, people are still smoking cigarettes. To use the modern parlance: Seriously???
It’s not as if we don’t know better. Since 1966—that’s 52 years, folks!—packs of cigarettes have sported increasingly stern warning labels about their health dangers. It started with the relatively innocuous:
Caution: cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health
The surgeon general (remember, folks, he’s a general; you should listen to him) upped the ante and the truth factor in 1969 by going to:
Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined That Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous to Your Health.
While a word to the wise might be sufficient, a word to the average addicted, advertising-indoctrinated American consumer is anything but. Now we see a variety of terrifying notices, such as:
WARNING: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, and May Complicate Pregnancy.
Yet, people persist in puffing away their health and well-being. And not just their own, but that of their children:
WARNING: Smoking by Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, and Low Birth Weight.
…and everyone around them who breathes their stinking, poisonous second-hand smoke:
WARNING: Cigarette Smoke Contains Carbon Monoxide.
Side note to my neurologically-challenged friends: smoking has been connected to the onset of MS in addition to the usual suspects of cancer, COPD, heart disease, et al.
What kind of power does this little stick have that people world over are willing to put their and their loved ones lives on the line for it?? Not only that, but we pay for the privilege! More every year! From a cost of about 33¢ a pack 50 years ago to about $10 here in MA today (almost $13 in NY). That’s 4-5 times the rate of inflation. Those figures show only the direct cost of this heinous beast. The medical expenses incurred because of its use are about $300 billion a year according to the CDC.
The true cost is measured in more than money. It’s measured in the loss of the ones we love. My mother would likely still be alive today, had she not been addicted.
The sick joke is that we only lose those worthless years at the end of our lives, so who cares? (Well, my mother’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren care.) But it’s not only length of life. As my MS friends will testify to those scoffers, quality of life is the real issue at stake. For instance, there’s the person I knew who, besides eventually losing life to COPD, had previously lost the ability to taste, to swallow, and to breathe unassisted. I once met a woman who was only about 40 when she was consigned to toting around an oxygen tank for the rest of her life because of her habit.
The thing is, we know it kills. In a classic case of dissociative disorder, a condition that is pandemic in our country*, smokers ignore the facts or pretend they’re exempt from reality. News flash: Denial doesn’t help. Strangely, we as a country spend about 30 billion dollars a year on health club memberships, most of which, it’s safe to assume, are never used. Maybe none of the folks in the fitness centers are smokers. Yeah, right.**
Please, stop smoking. You’re killing yourself. You’re killing others. You’re taking yourself away from the ones you care about far too early. You’re stinking up and poisoning the world for the rest of us. You’re throwing away hundreds of thousands of dollars over your (abbreviated) lifetime. You’re trashing this world. You’re relinquishing control of your life and resources to the tobacco companies, who know exactly what they’re doing to you and don’t care.
If only for the sake of people with MS, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, ALS, and the many other conditions over which they have no control, take control where you can.
Do you really need any more reasons?
* Other examples of the disorder: playing the lottery, the proliferation of guns in homes for our family’s “safety”, climate change, inactivity. There are many, many more.
** My favorite example: Recently I watched a yoga class being held in public. (Why it was out there for all to see is beyond me.) The yoga instructor was smoking a cigarette the entire time! Who would take instruction related to health from a smoker?!?! Punch in, folks!