ethel’s words

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HAVING A “NICKIE FIT”

The media and somebody got the lawmakers and the courts to condemn tobacco--the sacred leaf, the sacred medicine. Tobacco companies were pilloried.

Smokers laughed at anti-smoking public service announcements (PSA) that offered such hoots as “I didn’t puff up all day!”. But unfunny--in fact, downright cruel--were elementary school teachers who told students “If you smoke cigarettes you will die”. Children of smokers went home in tears.

Smokers were aghast that the courts were subjected to (and apparently believed!) such nonsense as “Tobacco companies tried to hide the fact that tobacco is addicting.” And we needed a court finding? My old uncle, dear guy, way back in The Thirties, said, as he rolled his Bull Durham, “Well, here’s another nail in the coffin, but I need my nicotine.” He was past 80 then. Other smokers remarked, “I am about to have a nicotine fit” or more often, “a nickie fit”. Smokers were not as dumb as the non-smokers; smokers knew they were addicted. Smokers knew the term “smokers’ cough” but many smokers never coughed, while many non-smokers had “miners’ con”-type cough, or perhaps Black Lung.

Tobacco companies have deep pockets, and have been coerced into promises of huge ransom payments. How they are going to pay if people quit buying their product is a puzzle to me.

The medical community of the United States has accepted the idea that smoking causes cancers. But once, perhaps the only time in this country, someone studied smokers instead of cancer patients. “Only fifteen percent of smokers get cancer” it concluded. (It is customary that studies of smoking are rarely sourced.) Well, what percentage of the whole population gets cancer? (No answer.) To casual observation it seems more and more persons are contracting, often dying, of cancer, sometimes in a seeming total absence of exposure to tobacco smoke, and during this present time, when smoking is almost banished. In a long-ago-loaned book I read of an English study that concluded that persons who drank moderately, and smoked moderately were healthier than those who drank and smoked excessively and also those who never did either. Hah! Can we refrain from speculating that they probably ate moderately, too? (Food, as enemy, has been neglected.)

Shall we ever have an objective study? If the evidence is there, my mind is certainly open to see what others consider “proof”.

Ethel C. Hale