Monday, May 16, 2005

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (and kills you!)

This is a little bit of a departure from my usual topics, but not really. I got this from Robert, who blogs at A Little Left Of Centrist. It's about a vaccine that is supposed to keep nicotine from binding to the receptors in your brain, thereby avoiding addiction.

Now, just about anyone who knows me knows that I'm somewhat rabid on the subject of cigarettes. But it's difficult for me to see any justification for keeping these things on the market. Robert mentions a 'civil liberties' issue, but that's pretty murky, it seems, if the 'civil liberties' apply to cigarettes only, and not to food substances, or drugs - legal or illegal.

This is why the FDA has no credibility, as far as I'm concerned. They'll yank a sweetener off the market in a hot second if they discover that a 500 X dose of a normal portion will give a rat cancer, but a proven killer of humans like tobacco products are fine - it's 'personal freedom' to choose what to put into your body. It's not personal freedom at all - it's just money. And when a product is not only guaranteed dangerous, but highly addictive, it's a little tougher to justify it as a 'personal choice'. Robert was fortunate in being able to overcome the addiction, and my hat is off to him. Too many people are not able to. Studies have proven that nicotine is more addictive than heroin. Especially if you have a genetic predisposition to addiction, quitting is much harder than just saying "I think I won't smoke any more." To an addict (and anyone who smokes regularly has a physical addiction), it's a necessity. Your body has genuinely come to need nicotine. So it is not really 'personal choice', although many smokers who do not want to admit that they are addicted will say defiantly, "I like to smoke. I choose to smoke. I smoke because I want to." It's easy to quit using an artificial sweetener. But if you're a regular smoker, it is the challenge of your life. Even alcohol, as destructive as it can be, is not physically addictive in the same way that nicotine is. It takes a lot of alcoholic drinking to be physically addicted, although if you have the genetic predisposition it will happen sooner, but of itself alcohol is not immediately (say, within weeks of consistent use) physically addictive. Cigarettes are. So it's completely hypocritical to say that smoking is a personal choice. Crack is a personal choice, too.

And it doesn't just hurt the person who smokes. Second-hand smoke is dangerous, too. I watched a friend who never smoked in her life die a horrible slow suffocating death from emphysema, because her husband smoked. The cost to society of smoking is enormous. Include in that the families who lose a loved one to smoking-related illness, and the staggering medical costs of cancer, heart disease, and emphysema. We all pay.

Either the FDA should get out of business altogether, and allow the public the 'personal freedom' to choose what dangerous products to ingest, or be consistent and ban tobacco.

The profits are just too good, the tobacco lobby too rich and strong, and so the addiction that leads directly to suffering and death (as the tobacco industry was aware of long before the general public) is just fine, so long as the shekels keep on a-rollin' in.

If they want to make it a personal choice issue, then be consistent and allow any product (including 'illegal' drugs) on the market, as long as the dangers are clearly labeled, and 'caveat emptor'. But I've seen so many grotesque and unnecessary deaths from cigarettes including people who desperately tried to quit and were not able to, that, as far as I'm concerned, it's just premeditatated murder for profit.

Which, I understand, is a capital crime.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nicotine is the addictive drug in tobacco smoke that causes smokers to continue to smoke. Addicted smokers need enough nicotine over a day to ‘feel normal’ – to satisfy cravings or control their mood. How much nicotine a smoker needs determines how much smoke they are likely to inhale, no matter what type of cigarette they smoke.