GORDON: Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em, folks, this Wednesday Evan and I will be discussing our culture and smoking.
EVAN: This is largely due to us not putting up the poll until days after the last E> was posted, but what are you going to do.
GORDON: I will I take responsibility for this. But back to the topic at hand-
No one here is going to make the argument that smoking is good for you. But speaking as someone who occasionally enjoys a pipe or a cigar and the like, I can’t help but feel there’s a ridiculous amount of discrimination against smokers in our society.
EVAN: And, to be as upfront as Gordon was, I do not personally smoke cigars, cigarettes, blunts, pipes, etc. I am also a person with his own personal bias against smokers.
GORDON: And not without good cause. Your issue, if I’m not mistaken, is the habit of <some> smokers to throw their cigarette butts on the ground.
EVAN: And on the sidewalk, and into the street, and anywhere but an ashtray even when they are available. It is disgusting and inconsiderate and I do not appreciate it.
GORDON: And we can all agree on that. But that aside, I’m going to continue to assert that “smokers” (more on that in a sec) and smoking is treated with a revulsion that seems, at the very best, hypocritical and unfair.
Back in 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law by Obama, forcing cigarette companies to display “Warning” on the backs of each pack, taking up 50% of the box.
There have been similar pushes to display graphic images of diseased lungs, gums, and throats on boxes as well, something I believe I recall seeing in Thailand.
EVAN: Yeah, that’s pretty much how cigarette boxes look here in Canada, too.
GORDON: I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that they don’t show diseased livers on wine bottles or guts distended from morbid obesity on the sides of McDonald’s Happy Meals though, right?
EVAN: Well, to be fair, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in Canada.
GORDON: So the moment it drops to second, the bleeding gums pictures will go away as well?
EVAN: I’m just chalking up the reactions of the government to a solid amount of deaths that are much more noticeable then those related to alcohol-caused liver disease, etc.
I mean, I agree with the general hypocrisy of it; it’s certainly not even across the board in terms of letting people know what’s bad for them.
At the same time, stopping in to grab a burger every now and then is not very comparable to how many people choose to smoke, which is about a pack a day.
GORDON: We could bat statistics back and forth on this one, but for the purposes of keeping this moving, I’m going to go ahead and make the argument that it’s not the government’s place to tell people what they can and can’t put inside of them.
EVAN: I feel like this strays dangerously into a discussion about drug control as a whole, and I don’t know about you, but I think people should not be allowed to do krokodil.
GORDON: We could probably argue back and forth all night about that one too, but let’s keep things relative, though.
I’ve seen more than a few kids in the past year who are waaaaay heavier than any kid ought to be. I’m not talking about some glandular problem, I’m talking about straight-up obesity, or at the very least, borderline obesity.
Now there’s nothing illegal about, oh I don’t know, making spaghetti sauce out of butter and ketchup.
EVAN: It is really not that bad.
GORDON: And yes, dear readers, Evan has done exactly that.
But the point is, why do cigarettes get portrayed as well-nigh satanic while fatty foods loaded up with sodium, sugar, and enough preservatives to embalm us all twice over get a free pass?
Why are smokers either evil or enslaved while people with weight problems (most of the western world) go on just enjoying life?
EVAN: It is strange how this all happened. I mean, I remember being in the Philippines back in the late 90s and seeing those Marlboro Man commercials, and other cigarette ads that featured golden plains, wild horses, bald eagles, and freedom.
GORDON: Like I said, it’s imbalanced. Either we give ’em both a free pass or we condemn ’em both with equal self-righteous indignation.
EVAN: Well, the reason I brought that up is that I don’t know how or why that shift occurred. What cigarettes represented changed in the public eye.
GORDON: I honestly can’t point to any major shifting point either.
EVAN: So I’m going to hesitantly let you speak on our behalf by asking you to tell me what we want to change here.
GORDON: Speaking as a person who enjoys a cigar every once in a while (exactly how much does one have to smoke to be a smoker, anyways?) I’d ideally like to see people simply relax about the issue of smoking as a whole.
It isn’t, despite the way it’s portrayed, on par with genocide and human trafficking. That said, I’d really settle for any kind of basic equality with any other vice at this point.
EVAN: I’d actually be pretty down with having pictures of fat dudes on hamburger wrappers.
GORDON: As a guy in all probability doomed to eternal gauntness, that seems like unfair punishment. =But hey, at this point, I’ll take it.
EVAN: We can’t all have your metabolism.
I am bitter because I have accumulating a very soft layer of fat around my midsection; it is like a pillow made up of my shame.
EVAN: So this proved to be a pretty short E>, huh.
GORDON: It did indeed. What are our ultimate conclusions here?
EVAN: While one of us definitely smokes and the other doesn’t, we’re in clear agreement that there should be some sort of equality when it comes to placing what I’m going to dub “warning labels” on products.
You’re right in that strong alcohol doesn’t have a little picture of a ruined liver on the bottle, and there’s certainly a lack of consistency here.
That being said, people need to stop throwing their dang cigarette butts wherever they feel like.
GORDON: That we both agree on, and I’m guessing it’s part of the reason cigarette smokers, more than any other kind of smoker, get the brunt of public outrage. Hitting on a subject we both have generally the same views on, we’ve finished pretty quickly, so let’s get right into figuring out what we’ll be talking about next time around.
I’m going to suggest we both watch a few episodes of Tosh.0 and offer our reactions next week.
EVAN: I am going to give a slight spoiler towards next week, if we do indeed go with that, and say that I really hate Tosh.
And then I am going to apologize because for this installment we were somewhat off of our game; I, personally, am exhausted.
My offering towards what next week’s E> focuses on is the idea of “easy money” on television. The reason we have all of these shows like Storage Wars and Baggage Battles and how we feel about them as recent college grads.
GORDON: Let it be so. Audience, the rest is up to you.
EVAN: Tune in next week, and definitely feel free to check both of Gordon’s posts for this week, they’re good reads.
I think part of the reason that smoking gets more of a bad rap than obesity or alcohol is that there’s no such thing as second-hand obesity or liver disease. Walking past someone who is smoking is a disgusting sensory experience, especially when the wind is blowing the wrong way. I generally avoid businesses that allow smoking because the air gets downright foul (trust me, a friend once accidentally got us a smoker’s hotel room, and it was a very unpleasant night). If smokers were able to contain the damage their habit does to their own bodies, I wouldn’t mind. Truth is, they don’t.
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