Smoking a selfish choice- Rebuttal to “Smoking: nostalgia and allure”

Javier Cortez, Staff reporter

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Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Cigarette smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in the United States. One of two of all those who continue to smoke will die from a smoking-related illness, according to the American Cancer Society.

You are literally flipping a coin on your life.

“Smoking: nostalgia and allure?” is a column published in The Prospector’s Feb. 25 issue. It took me half a minute to read this column by one of our staff reporters, S. David Ramirez, before I jumped up and started cursing like a sailor. Let’s just say there are a lot of words I can’t repeat in this column for the sake of politeness to my fellow co-worker.

I couldn’t live with myself if I did not respond to an argument like this.

Forgive me for paraphrasing, and forgive me if I sound unkind. One by one, let’s examine the arguments and statements of this column.

“I remember high school, having just turned 18. On that day we went out and bought a pack of cigarettes and a lottery ticket. It was a rite of passage for many of us from the Lower Valley,” Ramirez said.

Peer pressure is a sad excuse for starting a horrible habit like smoking. You might as well say you were oblivious to the harms of smoking and didn’t know any better. I hope there is not a rite of passage to drink and drive when you turn 21—or continuing any prejudicial belief passed down by parents, for that matter.

“Smoking has always had a fashionable allure. Watching ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ for the first time with Audrey Hepburn sitting opposite George Peppard, a cigarette delicately clasped in her hand.”

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was made in 1961. In 1964, the Surgeon General of the United States Luther Terry came out with the first report on smoking and health. In 1965, Congress required health warnings be labeled on cigarette packets. I’m pretty sure Audrey Hepburn and the American people did not have all the facts on smoking, maybe it wouldn’t have been such an “allure” if they knew they were smoking rat poison.

“Cigarettes have been a catalyst for conversation.”

You can find another way to start a conversation, replace cigarettes with chewing gum. In 20 years, those people who started the conversations with a cigarette will start the conversation with an artificial larynx device attached to the hole in their throat.

“It would be asinine to attempt to justify smoking.”

Finally something I can agree with, the column should stop right there. If you know smoking is completely unjustifiable, nothing else should be said. Especially when you know the point you are making is harmful.

“This ban hurts the people who look toward a small vice to ease the tension of a hard reality. It hurts the folks who have made the decision, as adults, to partake of a crop that has been a cornerstone of our country since its earliest years.”

The ban does not hurt anyone, it is supposed to help people. The hard reality is lung, colon, throat, or pancreatic cancer. Heart disease, impaired sense of smell and taste, cancer of the lips and mouth are as hard as it gets, if you ask me.

“A campus ban will not promote awareness or hinder my use of them; it’s merely an inconvenience.”

The only inconvenience is the lack of change in mentality. What that does is hinder progress, asinine arguments like this inconvenience the next generation and the generation after that. Personal choice is one thing, but letting harmful choices influence a society and a way of thinking is only selfish.

“The tobacco-free UTEP website states ‘UTEP has a focus on promoting health and wellness among our community,’ so maybe our next discussion should be on removing Pizza Hut and Chick-fil-A from campus.”

Comparing a chicken nugget to a cigarette is absurd. Here are a few things that are found in a cigarette: cadmium, an active component in battery acid, hexamine, found in barbecue lighter fluid and methanol, a main component in rocket fuel.

When it comes to ridding unhealthy vices, cigarettes have to be the first on the list. I would be all for the regulation of fast food—the United States has an obesity epidemic—but we have to start somewhere.

In most cases, I love freedom of speech, I think it’s what makes this country great. But in cases where we know the arguments we make are wrong and harmful to society, they need to stop. We eviscerate people who are against homosexuality, minority inclusion and gender equality—rightfully so—and the same should go for people who argue in favor of smoking.

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]

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