Tobacco Is Not Cool

In Local News, National News on April 6, 2009 at 8:16 am

Thursday night, we went to a concert in Evansville. Afterwards, we stopped at a large gas station to fill the car and get drinks. Inside the store, the spit tobacco was displayed on the counter right next to the gum and candy. The packaging for spit tobacco was very similar to many of the gum and candy packages. And the tobacco was in a place where children could easily swipe it.

Another gas station in Montgomery has tobacco products back in a corner away from the cash register. Again, easy for kids to steal.

Then Friday, I took a day off to recoup from staying out all night at the concert. I was watching a movie — The Mask — and began to notice how much smoking there was in that movie. Every time Stanley wanted to look cool and sexy, he whipped out his cigarettes. This is an older movie, but current movies still portray smoking as cool and sexy. Did you know that Disney movies portray more smoking than movies than any other company???

Although we have known for a long time that cigarettes, spit tobacco and secondhand smoke are dangerous — and that Big Tobacco companies use their obscene profits to influence our government leadership and movie makers — we still allow tobacco to be “cool” in our culture. There is nothing cool about the death and disease tobacco causes. We need to change our cultural attitudes towards tobacco.

A couple weeks ago, I had a display at Barr-Reeve jr/sr high. The majority of kids there are good students and avoid things they shouldn’t be into, like tobacco. But one kid looked at the pictures I had of cancers caused by tobacco and said, “That can’t be real. That doesn’t really happen.”

I told him: Just ask all the people who had loved ones died from tobacco use. Just ask the people who had their jaws removed or suffer emphysema. My own grandmother died from throat cancer caused by smoking. Just ask the 90% of each local student body who raised their hands when Rick Stoddard asked them if they knew someone who died from tobacco use. It’s real to them.


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