Smoking our way to failure

January 14, 2010

All of us not native to the West Coast must wonder some time after moving here if all those stereotypes of California as the country’s health mecca are just that: stereotypes.

People sure do like to light up their mentholated 100s here in Ventura County, which is why the American Lung Association this past week assigned a big, smoking grade of “F” to Ventura County for its tobacco policies.

Overall, not one city in the county got higher than a “D” grade on the report card. Even Moorpark and Thousand Oaks, which received a respective “A” and “B” for enforcing smoke-free environments, still fared poorly.

According to reports, the state spends over $18 billion a year in healthcare costs related to tobacco use: lung cancer, emphysema, and the like.

That means a lot of people are smoking, and a lot of people are getting sick. And smokers won out last year after a proposed increase to tobacco taxes failed. The revenues would have helped fund those healthcare costs.

Yet like all things one sees in school, is a simple letter grade a true and fair assessment of a performance? In other words, just because tobacco control might be less than adequate in Ventura County, does that make all smokers bad people?

Of course not. Some smokers don’t even like to smoke; it’s just that they’re addicted. Many should get an “A” grade for their valiant attempts at quitting.

Not to mention that smoking is a personal right, and to place further restrictions and violations on tobacco would mirror the days of prohibition, when alcohol was outlawed, outright.

The ALA’s standards are high. No state in the entire country received an “A” on its report. To some supporters of the ALA, true health isn’t achieved unless there are no smokers left, cigarettes no longer manufactured.

And we all know that will never happen, because health, like life, isn’t a final destination, but an ongoing journey with peaks and lows. The only advice would be not to start smoking.

It’s not all black and white … just a smoky grey.

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2 Responses to “Smoking our way to failure”

  1. Ron Rice Says:

    The bottom line is this. Leave smokers the hell alone. This whole issue is way out of control. I am not a smoker and have never been one. I believe smoking is a nasty habit with all kinds of reasons not to do it. However, this is the United States of America where we still have the right to do what we want.
    The movement that has attacked the smoking industry and smokers is un-American and all Americans should have put their personnel biases aside and backed smokers’ rights. Yes, smoking in restaurants planes, and similar places should be prohibited. But some of the laws are ridiculous.
    The reason why we all should get on the smoking band wagon is very simple. All of us have things we like to do that are probably unhealthy in some way. Equally, there are people that are against those things. The example of the is soft drinks or meat.. Do the research; there are groups that would like to ban the consumption of those and other items.
    It’s getting to the point that people better start minding their own business.

  2. Ron Rice Says:

    The bottom line is this. Leave smokers the hell alone. This whole issue is way out of control. I am not a smoker and have never been one. I believe smoking is a nasty habit with all kinds of reasons not to do it. However, this is the United States of America where we still have the right to do what we want.
    The movement that has attacked the smoking industry and smokers is un-American and all Americans should have put their personnel biases aside and backed smokers’ rights. Yes, smoking in restaurants planes, and similar places should be prohibited. But some of the laws are ridiculous.
    The reason why we all should get on the smoking band wagon is very simple. All of us have things we like to do that are probably unhealthy in some way. Equally, there are people that are against those things. The example of this is soft drinks or meat.. Do the research; there are groups that would like to ban the consumption of those and other items.
    It’s getting to the point that people better start minding their own business.

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