She made every holiday special. She would fill Easter baskets with candy, carve pumpkins, make me beautiful Halloween costumes, and spend hours trimming the Christmas tree. And she smoked.
She talked to me, listened to me and encouraged me. She was my best friend. And she smoked.
I don’t have a single memory of my mom that does not include a cigarette in her hand. What is funny, though, is that I never categorized my mother as a smoker. Sure, ashtrays were scattered throughout the house and she never went anywhere without the pack and lighter in her purse. Yet, I don’t recall her ever smelling like cigarettes, not her hair, or breath, or clothes. That has never ceased to amaze me to this day.
My mother began smoking at the age of 13 and continued, even after lung cancer and emphysema, until she died from a stroke in 2009 at the age of 59. I had kissed her goodbye on the Sunday after Christmas and never spoke with or saw her again.
Back in 1963, when my mom had her first cigarette, it was illegal for minors to purchase tobacco. It remains illegal today, but we know kids still somehow manage to smoke, just as my mother did. As I grew up with swirls of Marlboro wafting toward the ceiling, I was relentless in trying to get her to quit. She would ask me, “What do you want for your birthday (or Christmas or graduation), honey?” And I would always reply, “Quit smoking.”
To her credit, she tried a few times. After she had a partial lobectomy of her left lung, she swore to me she’d never smoke again and embarked upon that mission. She even changed how she wore her hair, her morning habits, her cooking routine—all things that included the ritual of smoking.
It wasn’t until that final time my mom tried to quit and failed that I realized how powerful physical nicotine addiction is, as is the psychological addiction that accompanies it. I used to blame her for smoking because I believed it was her choice to smoke; no one forced her to and certainly not the tobacco companies.
But, back then, people were unaware of the hazards of smoking. And her mother smoked. And advertising was everywhere. So although the tobacco companies did not put that first cigarette into my mother’s hand, they certainly did nothing to stop her.
The tobacco industry did and still does all it can to gear its advertising toward children, to make its products as addictive as possible, and to challenge every tobacco control law a state or country attempts to pass.
Why do I fight for tobacco control? I fight so others may learn about the hazards of smoking. I fight so children are not subjected to second-hand smoke. I fight so the general public may understand the carelessness, greed, and manipulation that is the tobacco industry. I fight so one day, no one else will have to lose the best mother in the whole world.
And, get excited to make an even bigger difference than you thought possible because all donations made before January 1st will be DOUBLED (up to $50K) by a group of our generous donors.
Thanks for helping us save twice as many lives.
Electronic cigarettes have boomed in popularity over the last couple of years, according to the city’s health department, but plans to regulate the plastic sticks in the same fashion as their paper counterparts has set up a serious debate about the untested product.
The City Council’s health committee is set to hold a hearing Wednesday on legislation that would regulate e-cigs the same way as the city does other tobacco products, banning them from use in parks, restaurants and bars.
E-cig companies say their products are safer because they don’t produce tobacco smoke, while health experts argue there are too many unknown factors, making it better to be safe than sorry when it comes to restrictions.
“We cannot take the words of the tobacco industry because they have had a long history of lying about the science,” said Chris Bostic, deputy director for policy for the national anti-smoking non profit Action on Smoking and Health.
Since the e-cigs don’t contain tobacco they are currently exempt from the city’s regulatory laws. However, last month the mayor signed a law that set the minimum age for purchasing e-cigs at 21.
Spike Babaian, co-owner of the electronic cigarette chain Vape New York, said she feels the city is unnecessarily punishing her industry, which she maintained is trying to help smokers quit. Babaian, who said her stores have served 6,000 New York customers over the last two years, also said that stigmatizing e-cig users with traditional smokers would make those trying to quit revert to old habits.
“Putting a cellphone to your head back in 1990 was also fearful, but we didn’t ban them,” she said.
Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, however, said the e-cigarettes in fact encourage smoking. There is no way to track the number of e-cig smokers in the U.S. since the industry isn’t regulated but city health officials maintain that total is on the rise.
“They may introduce a new generation to nicotine addiction, which could lead to their smoking combustion cigarettes. In addition, electronic cigarettes’ similarity in appearance to cigarettes makes it far more difficult to enforce our current smoking laws, which have saved many lives,” Farley said in a statement.
City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who sits on the health committee, said he is on the fence about the issue. He agrees that there needs to be more research into the health effects of the e-cigs but said he saw one of his staffers kick the habit by switching to one.
Vallone, who had a discussion about the e-cigs on his Facebook page, said he and his colleagues will pay close attention to the hearing today.
“We’re going to need to learn a whole lot very quickly before we can make any decision on this,” he said.
See this article at its original location>
Last month, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the case of Burrage v. United States. The case focuses on a federal law that requires a mandatory sentence for a drug dealer if “death or serious injury” results from drugs they sold. During oral arguments, much of the court’s discussion focused on the question of what “results from” means.
Does the drug that the dealer sold need to be the primary cause of death? Is it sufficient if the drugs contributed to the victim’s death? This is a complex issue with some far-reaching ramifications and will likely lead to a very interesting opinion from the Supreme Court of the United States (read a transcript of the oral arguments from SCOTUS blog here).
The “results from” question is an important issue for tobacco control. When a smoker dies, their death can often be attributed to several causes, both genetic and environmental. The immediate cause is cancer, or heart disease, or emphysema. Despite the fact that it may seem clear that a smoker died due to the effects of tobacco, it may be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Of course, there are clear legal distinctions between Burrage and tobacco related deaths; primarily that tobacco does not fall under the federal law in question because it is not an illegal drug. However, there is still some potential for precedent. Some jurisdictions have been prosecuting similar crimes, but charging them very differently.
Last week, in New Jersey, a drug dealer pled guilty to manslaughter: Ocean County, NJ Prosecutor. In Minnesota, dealers have been charged and convicted of third degree murder: ABA Journal. Manslaughter and homicide statutes do not require that illegal drugs cause the death of the victim; therefore, death from tobacco use could potentially be included.
The inevitable question is then – Do you think that tobacco companies could be held criminally responsible for the tobacco-related deaths of their customers?
Please leave a comment below or continue the conversation with ASH on Facebook or Twitter.
About 25% of all deaths in the US are related to tobacco. That’s more than murders, car accidents, and HIV/AIDs combined. And 10% of all deaths worldwide are the result of tobacco-related diseases.
Our Challenge: the tobacco industry makes billions of dollars selling their deadly products with no intention to ever stop. They also use their profits to block anti-tobacco measures and addict future generations. That’s where you come in!
With your help, and the generous support of anonymous donors who will DOUBLE your donation, we can make life unpleasant for the tobacco industry by increasing taxes, increasing marketing bans, adding graphic health warnings on their products, and excluding their products from free trade agreements.
This will, in turn, lower the number of new and current smokers because of the price increase, the jarring warning images on products, and fewer temptations via advertisements.
But we cannot take down the tobacco industry without you! They already have a financial head start, raking in $664 billion (with a B) in 2010; that’s greater than the GDP of all but 18 nations.
Any size donation will help combat the tobacco industry and will be DOUBLED by our kind donors. During this holiday season, please remember the urgency of 1 person dying every 6 seconds from tobacco-related diseases, and join us by standing up for health and against the tobacco industry.
We will keep you updated on our progress for health, and feel free to email us with any questions at HQ@ash.org.
Number 1: Tobacco is unique among consumer products. When used exactly as intended, tobacco products kill.
Therefore, tobacco should be exempted or “carved out” from trade agreements.
Number 2: Free trade agreements are meant to increase consumption. Increasing consumption of tobacco products would lead to additional deaths.
Tobacco products and services must be explicitly excluded. This would remove the tobacco industry’s ability to benefit from free trade agreements. A tobacco exception would not hurt any other products.
Number 3: The tobacco industry manipulates trade law as a way to threaten and sue governments who try to regulate tobacco within their own country.
Oftentimes, a tobacco company knows it is unlikely to win a trade suit against tobacco regulations; the cases are meant to scare governments by imposing large litigation costs.
Number 4: There is an irreconcilable conflict between public health and the tobacco industry.
Unlike other products that can become harmful when abused or overused, there is no “safe” use of tobacco. There is no happy medium to be found between the tobacco industry’s goal of increasing tobacco consumption, and the public health goal of reducing disease and death.
Number 5: In the Trans-Pacific Partnership (or TPP) negotiations, the US is pushing to increase the right of corporations, including tobacco companies, to directly sue governments over domestic regulations. State and local tobacco laws are also at risk.
TPP is a free trade treaty currently being negotiated between the US and eleven countries bordering the Pacific Ocean. Once completed, it will be the largest regional trading bloc in the world, larger than NAFTA.
Number 6: Including tobacco as a normal product in trade treaties leads to greater disease and death.
One billion people will die from tobacco this century unless drastic actions are taken. One of those critical preventative actions needs to be carving tobacco products out of trade agreements.
Voice your agreement by sharing this video on Facebook or Twitter using #CarveOut.