Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Random musings: smoking and the 'Truth.com' ads

One of the things I am most proud of is the fact that I may have saved a man's life. This is actually a story my father tells a lot. When I was about eight years old and equipped with the fearlessness of childhood, I talked one of his partners into giving up smoking. We were visiting his home one day when I noticed him holding a pack of cigarretes and proceeded to point out how unhealthy the habit was for him and especially for his newborn child. With hindsight, I suspect now that part of my reason for calling him out was the fact that my grandfather, who I adored though I never really got to know him, lost a lung to a pipe smoking habit. Either way, I argued with him for a long while, reportedly showing an eloquence far beyond my years and thoroughly embarrasing my parents. A couple of weeks later, my father told me that he'd quit smoking beacuse of me.
Why did I tell you this? Partially because I always thought it was a good story and partially to note that as an eight year old in a developing country with limited access to information, I already knew smoking was bad for you. Anyone who picks up the habit now has no excuse for blaming cigarette companies. I'm sure they really are evil soulless bastards who would turn us all into addicts at the drop of a hat without losing a moment's sleep. Most large corporations are the same way. The fact still remains that we don't have to buy their products and in this day and age there is no excuse for not being aware of the dangers. People blaming cigarette companies for their lung cancer are like people blaming fast food restaurants for their weight problems. As mature adults we are responsible for what we put into our bodies regardless of how much advertising surrounds those products. If we choose to be ignorant, we can't blame people for exploiting that ignorance. Granted they aren't nice people(I believe the term 'soulless' might have come up in this post) but they are dependent on our ignorance for their survival. They lose their power the moment we choose to take responsibility for ourselves and stop listening to them.
Might I suggest, therefore, that instead if ads telling us about how evil tobacco companies are, we try a simpler approach. "Smoking may look cool, but it will probably steal away years of your life and a large chunk of your money. It will also hurt those around you. If you are prepard to live with that, good luck to you"
The End

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