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Smoking, The Future?
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Smoking, the Future?

Smoking Has Not Always Been Bad?

No one these days can doubt that smoking is bad for them. But this was not always the case. It is only since the 1950’s that good scientific evidence was produced to show that cigarette smoking was a leading cause of lung cancer. When the first studies were published in the early 1950’s about 60% of adults smoked in the US. This smoking incidence was mimicked throughout the western world; most people smoked. Smoking was a very normal part of life. You could smoke anywhere. The concept of second hand smoke and how it could injure the health of those who didn’t smoke was not even considered by the scientific community, let alone the general public. The impact of those first studies didn’t really filter down to the general public. I suppose it wasn’t disseminated down to the masses effectively. Big tobacco ruled. Their adverts were everywhere and they had friends in high places; as they still do today. The second sign that tobacco wasn’t really good for health, at least for those who could read the signs, was when doctors started to quit. The statistics are interesting. Once the evidence became firm against smoking and especially when it was linked to cancer in the early 1950’s, doctors started to quit. At that time 50% of American doctors were regular smokers. By 1972 smoking incidence amongst doctors decreased to 20%. Contrast this with the smoking incidence amongst the general population which remained at about 45% during this period.

Smoking Decline

Smoking incidence has steadily declined and today bumps along at about 20% in most developed nations. The situation in the developing nations is a different story. That sorry episode will have to await a different article.

The Future of Smoking

The challenge is how to reduce smoking further below 20%. Some experts argue that zero smoking is achievable within the next 10 years. This is an optimistic appraisal by dusty and remote academics; reality is a different matter. To date, there has been no drug introduced to man that has disappeared from use. Once introduced, drugs seem to linger. Their popularity may wax and wane, but there will always be a market for their use. Realistically, I suspect tobacco use will bottom out at about 15-20% of the adult population. Of course I may be wrong. Regardless, there will always be a market for risky drug activity, especially amongst the young. Unless we can manufacture a society of mature, middle aged and sensible folk without the intervening ‘stupid’ years how can it be otherwise. But let’s face it who would want to live in such a society? Part of growing up, and certainly most of the pleasure, is doing stupid things when we are young. This is what makes us human after all, and why would we want to change that? I am not condoning risky behaviour and smoking must rank as the most stupid. Most of us grow out of risky behaviours as we age. We grow up, get married, get mortgages and have children. Life becomes sensible and slightly boring. A few will never really embrace the sensible life. No surprise that those who drink excessively also smoke and are likely to take drugs. Of course I’m generalising but I’m making a point. The point I am really trying to make is that human behaviour is complex and no government or politician can ultimately legislate or control our behaviour even it is to our detriment. This is the human condition; for better or for ill, we had best live with it.


Street Talk

I like your article

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

One habit I will not miss!

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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