50 Years After Smoking Warning – Where are We?


by Jayne D. Frank

50 Years after the Surgeon General’s report on the adverse effects of smoking we hear reports of how that report saved 8 million people from premature deaths who since have quit. These reports obscure and ignore the real facts and problems with smoking in 2014:

1) Because of population increase in the U.S., smokers have actually increased and the number of young people smoking has not decreased.

2) Only a handful of states actually have any “meaningful” laws protecting non-smokers from second-hand smoke in public places (workplace, restaurants, bars, etc.);

3) The propaganda on E-cigarettes is misleading inasmuch as they contain carcinogens which can lead to cancer, hardly an improvement over regular cigarettes;

4) Insurance companies do NOTHING to penalize smokers by way of higher premiums. Health care costs in this Country have spiraled out of control and one of the most prominent reasons is the cost of care for chronically ill people with sicknesses directly attributable to smoking has increased dramatically. You will hear arguments from smokers that the cost of treatment for non-smokers exceeds that of smokers, and the argument cannot be made truthfully. NON-SMOKERS JUST LIVE LONGER so they could require longer medical care! This smokescreen is most apparent when you look at what Obamacare does and doesn’t do with potential enrollees. The enrollment form asks you “whether” you smoke, but does nothing to increase smoker’s premiums, and in fact, many if not most smokers will be off the hook for paying anything and will be thrown in Medicaid or subsidized, both on the backs of others.

5) Entitlements in this country have soared over the last 50 years and especially during the Obama Administration and we taxpayers continue to “give” welfare checks and unemployment checks to smokers who run out and pay hundreds of dollars a month for cigarettes.

6) The cost of treating asthma in this Country is dramatically increasing every year, and how many of these asthma cases came about by children having to be around and live with people who smoked every day?

The rhetoric is all well and good about possibly saving 8 million people from premature deaths by having them quit, but nothing substantial has happened in this war on smoking over the past several years. Smokers have rights, but they have NO right to take taxpayer money for their habit, they have NO right to drain the healthcare system in this country, they have NO right to cause everyone’s insurance costs to go up because of them, and they still have NO right to interfere with my rights not to breathe this stuff.

This is not just an opinionated blog without any basis or knowledge. I personally went through years and years taking care of 2 parents whose diseases from smoking literally took their life’s breath away and deteriorated every organ in their body. Their quality of life during the last ten years was deplorable and the way their bodies were ravaged was ugly. I got really disgusted at having to endure the countless doctors showing me photos of my dad’s lung cancer as it progressed and x-rays of lungs that had no air sacs left to breathe. They were both on expensive continuous oxygen and couldn’t get around at the end without wheelchairs. My sister who was in the prime of her life but acquired the life-long habit of smoking 3 packs a day from my parents, died of an aneurysm and strokes, but only 5 years after being completely paralyzed from those events. I am deeply disappointed in the recent court decision that did not mandate that these graphic pictures be shown on cigarette packages. I guess “reality shows” are just relegated to the television now.

More importantly I saw the bills that came in from Medicare and my sister’s insurance companies for her long-term care. A typical 3-day hospital visit for one of my parents in 1997 ran over $80,000. Who paid for that? We all did.

The personal side of this for me is that I was subjected to second-hand smoke my entire life as a child and because both my son and I took care of my parents, we were subjected even further to the effects of being around my parents, and guess what? They continued to smoke up until their death because they said “we have rights.”

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