Sunday, January 11, 2004
Hey, am I the only one who missed the War on Smoking? Just how many wars are we fighting, anyway? Can we start a War on Stupid War Metaphors? I'm just thinking here.

Forty years into the war on tobacco, it cannot be declared a success. In fact, it is the worst public health failure in U.S. history.
We've fought this thing for forty years? Wow. Maybe it's time to stop.
Smallpox, cholera, polio and many other scourges have been conquered in this country. There even have been significant advances in treating AIDS.

But the smoking epidemic has continued to smolder, killing hundreds of thousands of Americans a year.
Ah yes, smoking is now similar to cholera and smallpox. Sure, cholera and smallpox are contagious, kill you in days or weeks, and give you no choice in the matter. But that doesn't really distinguish them from people voluntarily giving up some longevity to enjoy a cigarette. Nope, it's all the same. Hey, eating that extra piece of cake is not too different from malaria, either, you know.
In addition to paying off organized medicine, the industry's fat checkbook enabled it to neutralize Congress, the media and academic researchers, all of whom feasted on tobacco dollars.
Yep. Tobacco hasn't been banned outright, its sale does not merit the death penalty, and consumers are not shipped off in cattle cars to federal holding cells. Surely this means out officials have been bought off.
There's no reason to believe that regulation and prohibition of tobacco will be any more successful than it was for alcohol. Now is not the time for more grants to study the problem. Now is the time is for new approaches, fanning the same flames of activism that led to clean indoor air laws. It's also time to encourage the private sector to get involved where Big Government failed.
Yes, this is just what we need: more annoying, self-righteous activists getting in our face and scolding us about our poor behavior. Hey, if it works, maybe the same can be done for high-fat foods, low-nutrition foods, meat, non-organic fish... Maybe we can have people demonstrating outside movie theaters and video arcades, demanding that we exercise more. Yes, I do believe that what is lacking in my life is a bunch of know-it-all loudmouths telling me how to live.
Alan Blum is director of University of Alabama Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society. Eric Solberg is an administrator at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Howard Wolinsky is a Sun-Times staff writer. This article is based on a commentary in the Jan. 10 edition of The Lancet medical journal.
E. Nough is just a guy who likes to comment on stuff. He doesn't smoke, never has. He believes the health warning about cigarettes, finds the smell of tobacco irritating, and if you should ever make the mistake of lighting up in his home, you will be shoved outside so fast, your cigarette will be sticking out the back of your head. But right now, he'd really like to get Mssrs. Blum, Solberg, and Wolinsky into a small room, light a cigarette, blow the smoke in their face, and repeat this action until they look like The Malboro Man.

Perhaps it's time to start a War on Centers that Waste Money and Resources. We can start with this outfit in Alabama...

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