Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yankee for Life

Every night when I decide I have said my last word on a topic, the next morning finds me with one more thing to say.

Read most of "Yankee for Life: My 40-Year Journey in Pinstripes" by Bobby Murcer with Glen Waggoner. Chapter 17 is titled "No Smoking in the Dugout". People who came of age in the 1950s and early '60s remember those days when cigarette smokers were not criminals. "4 out of 5 doctors who smoke, choose Doral" may the actual words from a typical ad of the time period. Murcer mentions smoking in high school. His sweetheart did not like it, plus he played sports, so he was never much of a smoker; 1/2 a pack a day habit.

Murcer's mother was a heavy smoker. She died of lung cancer as did his older brother. He regrets accepting a tobacco company offer and becoming "The Dippin' Man", advertising Skoal tobacco. Now married to his sweetheart, she found his chewing habit gross. Murcer does not go into politics much, except for the cigarette issue. He decided to lobby the government for more stringent laws regarding cigarettes. Murcer tells us:

"In 1997, the Oklahoma State Senate passed Senate Bill 619 to 'beef up local regulation of tobacco sales to minors.' Called the Bobby Murcer Tobacco Addiction Prevention Bill, it was subsequently passed by the Oklahoma House and signed into law."

The chapter ends with: "Tough I can't change my past, I would love to be remembered as a guy who helped change the future by trying to build a tobacco-free environment."

Okay, Bobby, I will now forever remember you as one of the enemies of the U.S. Constitution which guarantees "liberty" or freedom of choice. Even those children of the '50s know "cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health." We knew it then; how could we not with parents and teachers preaching it to us? I never saw cigarette advertising as a means to "hook" people on smoking. I saw them as getting smokers to switch to their brand. An adult who sues the tobacco industry blaming the ads for the death of a loved one is wrong. I see ads for liquor all the time. Does that cause me to become addicted to alcohol.

Do I run out to KFC when I see an ad? Taco Bell? Mickey D's? Am I addicted to Charmin or Alka Seltzer, due to ads run by the companies? It is up to an individual to just say no to what they see advertised. Bobby says he was in denial and later admitted he was addicted to tobacco. There may be people who get addicted to nicotine, but for most people it is simply a bad habit, like eating steak, drinking Coke or Pepsi, nibbling chocolate or bags of chips. Alcohol consumption costs society more money than cigarette smoking and Budweiser does not get sued for their ads; blamed for the alcoholic or simple drunk driver's vehicular manslaughter, now do they?

Rather than banning smoking in an entire stadium, airport and yes even hospital, designated smoking areas with good ventilation is fair to citizens who choose to smoke. Asking the government to restrict anyone's freedoms opens the door to giving the government more power. The old saw applies: give an inch, take a mile. People often complain about people taking government "handouts." The homeless are a good example. Seen as "lazy, bums" with an attitude of "entitlement." Any talk of that comes with the words: personal responsibility. So why no personal responsibility when it comes to tobacco? Another of life's double standards.

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