Problems with Tobacco

Here’s a quick and colorful bit of history: Edward Bernays, the creator of public relations as we know it, helped make the bacon-and-egg breakfast and the Dixie cup staples of American Society. As the nephew of Sigmund Freud, he knew a thing or two about marketing and herd mentality. All one had to do was market something to a few people, and by wildfire, the herd would be influenced.

The image of fire is not lost in Bernays 1920’s campaign: Working for the American Tobacco Company, Bernays hired a group of young female models to march in the New York City Easter parade. He then told the press that a group of women’s rights marchers would light "Torches of Freedom." On his signal, the models lit Lucky Strike cigarettes in front of the eager photographers, erasing the stigma of women smoking and ushering in generations of tobacco problems (Source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays).

In 1992, some members of PANAT met Edward Bernays and he admitted that there was no scientific knowledge about smoking’s peril back then. When we asked him how he would curtail tobacco’s prevalence, he gave us the idea of a petition to the Pope, the first official effort of PANAT. We credit him with lighting a new torch, a torch of liberation from tobacco.

Elsewhere on this website, you can read about the costs, ills, and perils of smoking. Many of these statistics will sound familiar, and many might surprise you. The knowledge we have about tobacco is the result of years of sacrifice on the part of scientists from all over the world. Just as the ancients had to reconcile philosophical and mathematical truths, we need to reconcile scientific truths with human behavior.

When we neglect reason and act according to feelings and passions, our behaviors will cause suffering. In fact, they already have… Just ask a health care worker or someone who has buried a chronic smoker.

The pervasiveness of tobacco makes no sense. Why do we continue to embrace it as a society? Why do we continue to socially sanction a drug that is more costly than any other drug on earth? Why do we continue to walk around the 500 pound gorilla in the room?

It just might be that the allure of smoking currently outweighs the perceived dangers. As Physicians and Nurses Against Tobacco, we hope to shift the weight.

Anywhere on this planet at any given time, cigarettes are ablaze. Elsewhere, heart monitors rattle, oxygen tanks fizzle, and gravestones drop.

Isn’t it time to admit our mistakes?

Quite simply, a new generation needs to step in and interrupt this tradition of tobacco that serves no purpose. Let us be that generation. Let us stomp out the "torches of freedom" and bring something else to light: The eradication of tobacco.

We all have a stake in this debate. By doing nothing, we will not be able to defend ourselves in the court of future generations. Get involved today!

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