Sunday, 18 November 2007


We have said it since the first day we heard the rhetoric about how smoking bans were necessary for the protection of by-standers: These bans have absolutely nothing to do with non-smokers’ health. They are being implemented for the sole purpose of coercing smokers to quit. It is clearly spelled out in the following article from After reading this article if some people still don’t get it, maybe they will when the next headline will read ‘’embarrass an overweight person today’’ because you love them of course!

Shame on public health to turn citizens and family members one against the other by openly calling for the ridicule of people engaging in a legal activity.

If you think that the Canadian tobacco control strategy is any better, click here for the Canadian version of a similar call. We note that the language used -- People using tobacco products in places where others were affected by smoke would attract adverse attention -- in the English version, has been toned down. The French version however -- Les gens qui se servent de produits du tabac dans des endroits où la fumée affectent les autres, reçoivent des regards hostiles -- reflects a more direct call which paraphrased, it calls for non smokers to give smokers hostile looks if they smoke somewhere where it affects others. Whatever happened to the civil plea ‘’would you mind not smoking as your smoke bothers me?’’. Except for the ‘’ugly’’ smokers (see definition of the ''ugly'' smoker in our tobacco case study), who were consistently decreasing in numbers, most people would have gladly put out in order to accommodate their fellow citizen. Unfortunately, the present context created by strategies to embarrass and ridicule the smokers, obtain the complete opposite results. Smokers feeling totally non-respected by such discrimination brought about by the direct or implied call of their own government, are fighting back in kind and the ‘’ugly’’ smoker phenomenon is now increasing in numbers, thus seriously affecting harmony in society.

Experts: Embarrass a smoker today



Every smoker huddling outside workplace exits this winter to grab a few puffs is cared about by someone.
It’s those people who care that can have the most impact in persuading smokers to kick the habit, health experts said.
How to do it?
Be direct.

“The more you do to embarrass people, the better,” said Dr. Susan Blatt, who was involved in the Utica COMMIT antismoking program in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Various societal factors have been at work to reduce the smoking rate:
*Research demonstrating second-hand smoke can harm others has pushed smoking outside of the office, shopping centers and bars and restaurants.
*Higher cigarette prices and taxes have made it significantly more expensive to support a two-pack-per-day habit.
*And smoking is far less common among better-educated individuals than it was a half-century ago.

Yet Utica, Rome and the North Country have a smoking rate approaching 27 percent, nearly 50 percent above the state average. That reflects low incomes and the arrival of thousands of refugees.

It is a tough battle to fight because the tobacco industry targets young people through its advertisements, which tend to glamorize smoking.

“Maybe in 30, 35 years, eventually we are going to be smoke-free,” Blatt said.

Some laws such as banning smoking indoors have been in place for sometime now, and the Utica area’s hospitals even went a step further in recent years.

“Hospitals are becoming smoke-free here,” said Dr. Arthur Vercillo, medical director at Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“One thing that has been happening in the Downstate region is they banned smoking indoors long ago,” he said.

New York City’s percentage of deaths due to smoking dropped by 10 percent after Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned smoking in restaurants, hospitals and other locations.

The Excellus report on regional smoking data also holds out some hope: The Utica area has a larger percentage of former smokers than other regions of the state. In part, that reflects the large number of people who smoked in the first place.

“We have a lot of people fighting this battle,” Vercillo said. “I think everybody needs that reminder.”

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