Saturday, January 8, 2011

Statewide Tobacco Ban?


The anti-smoking forces are looming over Kentucky's civil rights like the Death Star over Alderaan once again. The Courier-Journal is reporting that a bill proposing a statewide tobacco ban is now before the Kentucky legislature.

I oppose any attempts to curtail tobacco usage, even though I don't even smoke, myself (aside from an occasional fine cigar after a good meal or a puff of my pipe whilst striking a Sherlock Holmes-esque pose at my fireplace mantle), mainly because I tend to oppose any attempts to curtail people doing whatever they want to do within the law. I repeat, within the law. And there's the rub, you see: tobacco is legal. You'd think we were talking about Heroin or something, the way the rabid anti-smoking militants carry on.

And speaking of drugs, I find it odd that powerful and influential people are on a tirade against tobacco instead of doing something about Oxycontin and Crack and Meth, all of which are major problems for Kentucky's well-being. If these do-gooders would use a tenth of the resources and funding and effort they spend railing against tobacco to instead help put a stop to the Oxycontin pipeline, Kentucky would be a much safer place. But for some reason, they prefer to make second-hand smoke their pet bugaboo. Why is that, I ask aloud? Qui bono?

I believe diet sodas like Diet Coke to be far more harmful than all the tobacco in the Commonwealth, containing as they do dangerous artificial sweeteners like Nutrasweet, Splenda, and Acesulfame-K, as well the equally dangerous High Fructose Corn Syrup. Hell, everything we eat nowadays has corn in it, and not just any corn but genetically modified Monsanto corn. As Ivan Stang once opined, "Cocaine's pretty damn unhealthy, alright, but at least it isn't half our kids' diet."

Nevertheless, you don't see me mounting some goofy campaign to ban these substances, because I do believe it's your right to eat and drink cancerous crap if that's what you really want. Or to play golf amongst nerve gas, even.

Similarly, partially hydrogenated oils are one of the deadliest substances in our food supply, and yet they still are consumed on a daily basis by you and I. Whining about second-hand smoke when you eat and drink poison - literal poison every day of your life - is a little like living inside a septic tank and consuming raw sewage, yet complaining that someone else passed gas.

How about the pollution in Kentucky's air, water and soil caused by Rubbertown, DuPont, and places like Valley of the Drums and Maxey Flats? And these sites are only famous because people found out about them, as opposed to the sites that are still buried out there that you don't know about. Second-hand smoke, compared to what unfathomable chemicals that factories are semi-legally allowed to belch into our air from their smokestacks, is not on the top of my list of things to stress about.

How can you decisively point the finger of blame for any given person's lung cancer when we're swimmming in a sea of mostly-invisible car exhaust at all times, and blobs of ozone float around us constantly? And even though people make jokes like "I believe such-and-such lived too close to the power lines as a kid", it's no joke that people are living too close to the electromagnetic fields of power lines and power stations, and no one is doing anything about it.

And I bet most of these "OMG, your second hand smoke is killing me" people use cellphones. Guess what? You're dead already. Game over.

(Even the ones who don't use cellphones can't escape the radiation from cell towers, which are increasingly being hidden so you won't even know when you're leaning up against one.)

Aluminum is a very toxic metal, yet we cook our food in pans made of it, then wrap the leftovers in foil made of it. We use aluminum-based deodorants, day in and day out. In 1993, the World Health Organization announced their findings that autopsies of Alzheimer's disease victims showed abnormally high concentrations of aluminum in their brains, yet since then absolutely nothing has been done to reduce the public's aluminum intake.

A recent exhaustive analysis of 173 brands of bottled water was recently conducted, and only three of them got an "A". One brand that I often drink was given an "F".

As if arsenic and cryptosporidium in tap water aren't bad enough, did you know that the world's water supply is increasingly contaminated by antidepressants, antibiotics, and other prescription drugs that most municipal water treatment plants cannot remove with their conventional filtration systems? Sewage treatment plants can't eliminate it either, nor can they eliminate MRSA or Clostridium difficile, a truly terrifying superbug which Kentucky is sixth in the nation for reported cases.

Do some Google-cizing around the web and you'll find that practically everything under the sun is being touted as "bad for you" by some nutritional expert or other - peanuts, fish, corn, wheat, protein, caffeine, alcohol, dairy products, red meat, even soy. And we're surrounded by toxic BPA-laden plastics that leach estrogen-mimicking chemicals and more. And don't even get me started on Monosodium Glutamate. The sheer information overload of studying all the data from all these experts will either make you move to a desert island or throw your hands up and say, "The hell with it, it's hopeless trying to be healthy. I'm going to the store to buy a pack of hot dogs and a carton of Luckies."

(So what is the solution? There isn't one. I say, just live your life and let the Lord take you when he decides.)

Did you know that toxic coal ash sludge is now being used as an ingredient in the asphalt on Kentucky roads? It's kind of a complicated and unwieldy subject, and frankly, it's pretty boring - even to me - to read about, and it lacks the clear-cut charm of other causes. You know, causes that people can set up donation-raking organizations for, to whip citizens into a hysterical frenzy over to further their own ambitions. But that doesn't make the coal ash any less toxic a substance being introduced into Kentucky's environment.

How about getting tough on crime before we tackle smoking? There are places in Louisville that are essentially places of total lawlessness and danger, even as the LMPD prefers to spend its time combating perfectly legal strip clubs, and citizens like me who get pulled over and fined for nothing more than forgetting to buckle my seat belt. And let's not forget the LMPD's problematic history of framing innocent people for crimes they didn't commit. Maybe the new Louisville mayoral administration should clean house and start the LMPD all over again, from the bottom up and the top down.

But second-hand smoke? Come on. You're arguing about burnt toast in a burning house.

Finally - and I don't think you need me to remind you of this - I hear tell that it's a statistical certainty that we're all going to die in the end anyway.

Enjoy every sandwich!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

shit. thanks for depressing the hell out of me.

JSH said...

Sorry about that. Tomorrow I promise to talk about happier things :)

But I think the realization that worrying incessantly about one's health can be in itself unhealthy, and the realization that trying to stamp out all potentially threatening environmental factors is akin to playing an endless game of Whack-a-Mole that can't be won, well, that's sort of liberating and a happy thing too.

Le Faux Frog said...

I would still prefer not to be surrounded by smokers but I get what you're saying........ I dont smoke but most of my buddies do. When I've been hanging out with them I dont go home and say oh no, how many years did I just take off my life??

JSH said...

Exactly, Faux Frog. The media deliberately, as a matter of policy, strives to create the false impression that the world is so dangerous that no one should even go outside.

The point of my post was not to further this false worldview, but to point out the absurdity of taking the fearmongering to its logical extension.

"Don't eat this, don't touch that, beware of second hand smoke, beware of anything that isn't extreme health food, beware of everything, everything gives you cancer, just stay home and live your life on Facebook."

Despite all the adverse environmental factors that I enumerated in the post, mankind is surviving just fine, and I am optimistic about all our futures.

Anonymous said...

And now we even have to be concerned about toxic HONEY, of all things...Chinese honey laden with antibiotics and chemicals and "laundered" through other countries to conceal that China is the actual country of origin!

Melissa said...

You said it, Anonymous! All that and more. Please buy Honey as locally as possible (for many reasons), from a reputable Apiculturist. I highly recommend Hosey Honey out of Midway, Kentucky--they are a true organic operation, even getting away from using metal in their Hives.

Many of the same principles apply to locally grown Tobacco, if that is one's bent. Mmm, Kentucky's Best!

Ash said...

You forgot the deadly invisible Radon gas that creeps up into everyones homes, so run right out and buy a detector today!