Friday, March 10, 2006 at 11:24 AM
But her death highlights the pernicious and pervasive hazards of smoking. And, even more troubling, it provides grave warning that one does not have to be a smoker to suffer the affects of this insidious addiction. It is ironic, therefore, that the day after Dana’s death, thefederal government reported that “Americans smoked fewer cigarette last year than at anytime since 1951.” (Eg. Americans smoked 525 billion cigarettes in 1990 but only 378.6 billion last year – despite an increase in population from almost 250 million to 300 million….Granted, that’s still a lot of cigarettes!)
Undoubtedly, much of the credit for this good news should go to the American Lung Association for leading an aggressive anti-smoking campaign for years that has caused dramatic reductions in the number of people who take up smoking, and equally dramatic increases in the number of those trying to quit the habit. Because its public service announcements were instrumental in conveying the life-saving message – especially to teenagers – that “smoking is unhealthy and dangerous, not glamorous.”
It is undeniable, however, that the 1998 landmark settlement imposed upon tobacco companies by the National Association of Attorneys General was the tipping point in this public health quest. Moreover, that state legislatures have taken-up the challenge of prohibiting smoking in all places of public accommodation will not only reduce smoking levels even further but also limit exposure of non-smokers, like Dana, to the proven hazards of secondhand smoke.
Now, if we can build hermetically sealed cages for those irritating smokers who loiter in the front of almost every office building in America, emitting their toxic secondhand smoke, that would really nip this problem in the butt….
NOTE: It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that as we celebrate this good news in the U.S., American tobacco companies are redoubling their misleading advertising throughout the Third World to get millions of young people hooked on cigarettes to make up for revenue losses in their domestic market. Therefore, I pray that public-health advocates around the world will follow the lead of the American Lung Association and campaign aggressively against the trafficking of American cigarettes in their countries.