Hard to avoid the commercials warning us against the hazards of smoking everywhere we go. On the radio on my way to work or at work all day I hear the imminent blindness that is caused by years of smoking and on TV there are the tearful commercials of a mother dying of emphysema while her daughters watch.
And in the news cigarettes get taxed more and more and tobacco companies settled millions of dollars.
We have found the enemy, it seems.
I used to smoke. I was never a chain smoker and I could take it or leave it anytime but I enjoyed it. For a time, it was a thing to do over drinks with a friend at a bar or even in the office! I stopped cold turkey on an April morning in 2001 while I awaited a call from my doctor - a call that would change my life- regarding the pathology results of my biopsy.
I didn’t stop because of the negative effects my smoking could have on my health. I stopped because, not knowing what else to offer in exchange for good news, I made a promise to God. I have kept that promise ever since.
But smoking had no real impact on my health. I don’t know what did. Maybe it was all the milk I drank while growing up that was saturated with the hormones given to cows; maybe it was all the pesticides in all the fruits I ate. Or maybe it was the products that were sold in developing countries after the FDA here had banned them. Or maybe it was – the excuse given when all else fails – the stress that has never been absent in my life.
I don’t know.
What it appears is that we concentrate our energy on combating tobacco while people suffer and perish from many other causes that could be controlled and alleviated were they given the attention they deserve. It seems to me tobacco serves as a good façade that defuses attention from the real issues.
I am not advocating nor endorsing smoking neither arguing its negative effects. But let’s not forget everything else that is happening around us. People dying from hunger, children being abused, wars being fought, and people dying from other illnesses that are derived from our own environment while we concentrate on fighting tobacco.
It seems we have found the enemy, but is that really the enemy?
We might be fighting the wrong war.