Sunday, May 31, 2009

World No Smoking Day

The World Health Organization has proclaimed May 31st, 2009, as World No Tobacco Day.

If I could change one thing in the history of the world, I would like humans never to have discovered that tobacco can be smoked (or chewed). I think the world would have been a better place without the consumption of tobacco.

Imagine trying to advertise a product with the following list of features: It's addictive, it's unhealthy and poisonous to you and even to others around you, it makes you stink, it will cost you a fortune over your lifetime, it reduces the number of people who will be willing to be your friend or partner, it makes a lot of money for a large, cynical and exploitative industry. It amazes me that despite knowing all these things about smoking, young people still start smoking.

One of the best moments for me in recent years was about two years ago when my father managed to give up after 55 years of quite heavy smoking. I was also happy that various medical tests showed that he hadn't suffered any health problems as a result. It was better for me to have a healthy father than to be able to say "I told you so!". However, this doesn't mean that everyone who smokes as much as he did will stay healthy!

I would like to add my voice to the call for people to give up smoking, or never take up the habit. We are rational beings, and when we have knowledge about healthy living, it is worth acting on that instead of being deliberately self-destructive.

I also call for smokers to become aware of the impact of their smoking on others. The smoke spreads over a large area around the smoker and lingers for several minutes. It also remains on the smoker's person and clothes. Smoke makes my eyes sting and my throat ache, and encountering someone smoking really ruins my day.

Smokers like to claim that they are "persecuted" by non-smokers, and that they have the "right" to smoke. However, smoking is poisoning the surrounding area and has been shown to cause health risks for the exposed non-smokers. It is not equivalent to other things people do in public that are "annoying", such as eating strong-smelling food or chewing bubble gum.

I hope to see the percentage of smokers decline to zero throughout the world in my lifetime.

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