When I was around 7 or 8 years old I asked my dad if I could take a puff of one of his cigarettes. At that time my father was in his late 30's and had been smoking for a good many years. As I recall he smoked a brand called Kent. Believe it or not cigarettes sold for about 28 cents a pack in the late 1950s so they were very affordable for just about everyone. Anyway, my dad granted me my wish and allowed me to take a couple of drags. I coughed and choked and coughed some more. I wondered why in the world anyone would want to smoke anything. My dad's decision to let me try one worked like a charm. It was the first and last time I ever smoked a cigarette.
When I got to junior high school my dad warned me in no uncertain terms that if he ever caught me smoking I would be one very sorry young man. And although most of my friends experimented with smoking and some got hooked I never had the slightest desire to try a cigarette again. To this day I cannot understand what the appeal is. It is a such a dangerous and dirty habit. But in those days cigarette ads were all over TV and radio, newspapers and magazines. We were bombarded with messages like "Winston Tastes Good Like A Cigarette Should". Really? Meanwhile, The Marlboro Man was everywhere. The tobacco companies and the moguls at the big ad agencies on Fifth Avenue were relentless in trying to convince us all that smoking was very cool. It was not until 1964 when the Surgeon General issued a report on the dangers associated with smoking that the tide began to turn. Here are some of the highlights of that report:
1) There is no safe exposure to tobacco smoke. Any exposure to tobacco smoke--even an occasional cigarette or exposure to second-hand smoke--is harmful.
2) Damage from tobacco smoke is immediate.
3) Smoking longer means more damage.
4) Cigarettes are designed for addiction.
5) There is no safe cigarette.
6) The only proven strategy for reducing the risk of tobacco-related disease and death is to never smoke and if you do smoke to quit.
One cannot underestimate the impact this report had on the perception of smoking in this country. The report led to laws requiring warning labels on tobaccoproducts and ultimately to a total ban of cigarette advertising on radio and TV. One of the ways the tobacco industry decided to fight back was an elaborate campaign designed to make smoking much more appealing to women. Virginia Slims were introduced in the late 1960s with the slogan "You've Come A Long Way Baby". Unfortunately lots of women bought in to this slick advertising campaign and predictably there have been major ramifications. It turns out that smoking has a damaging effect on a woman's reproductive health and is associated with reduced fertility and early menopause. To be sure there are a whole host of very compelling reasons why men, women and most especially young teenagers should never start smoking in the first place.
These days depending on where you live cigarettes cost between $6.00 and $8.00 per pack. How in the world can anyone afford them? Yet according to the American Heart Association an estimated 24.8 million men (23.1%) and 21.1 million women (18.3%) are smokers. Despite all of the information available to them on the risks of smoking these folks choose to engage in an extremely expensive habit that puts them all at much greater risk for lung cancer, heart attack and stroke. It is an extremely maddening state of affairs. Well, my father quit smoking in the late 1960's. Today he is a healthy 91 years young and appears to have suffered no ill effects from all his years as a smoker. I reckon he quit before irreparable damage was done. So I would encourage all of you smokers out there to consider quitting. Smoking is not cool! Think of all the extra disposable income you would have and imagine life free from addiction to tobacco. There really is absolutely no upside to smoking.
Such a bad habit that it not only ruin your health but those around you. Smoking is NOT sexy and certainly a very irritating behavior to those around. I had colleagues who used to smoke a great deal, even right after a meal at the table! That's a total turn-off and I hardly lunched with them from then onwards. Their excuses? Too much stress at work! Oh, if you hate smoking, best not to go Japan and China. Too many smokers and it's tough trying to avoid them all the time!
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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