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January 01, 2008 – Comments (9)

Motley Fool said they were giving 2c to charity for every post and comment to the blogs in December.  I did 45 posts and I counted 227 comments made to those posts in December.  I did not check to see if there were comments added to older posts.  So, it looks like my blog was worth $5.44 to charity via the Motley Fool.

Everyone has their pet charity and mine is Non-smoker's Rights Association.   

The way I look at it, each child we prevent from starting to smoke will over their life time will save $4.50 per pack and would smoke on average one pack per day over 40 years.  In today's dollars that's about $66k of disposible income they can spend on other things, and indeed, benefit all other businesses.  The thing about addiction is that there isn't free market competition with addiction, so either they are smoke-free and this money is spent in a free-market economy, or they are addicted and this money will go to the tobacco industry even if they have to stand in a food bank line-up to feed their children.

Indeed, where tobacco companies are moving into the emerging economy countries what studies on the poor family units find is that when a parent becomes addicted to tobacco it results in an 8,000 calorie deficit in the children's diet per month.  Never mind the children sold into the sex trade because of addicted parents.

And the thing is, tobacco companies use that money that people spend on cigarettes to lobby and force their way into other countries.

For years tobacco companies used the chloro-fluoro-hydrocarbons to "fluff" tobacco to help prevent cigarettes from going out when they were left unattended.  I feel grief when I think about that and all the house fires that would not be if cigarettes were not manipulated to keep burning when unattended.  I especially feel grief when I think of my 10-year-old cousin who is no more due to a house fire about 3 years ago.   I teach and I've always worked hard to give children a strong anti-tobacco message.  I never dreamed I would one day be sharing a story like this with them.

Tobacco companies are one of the most disasterous companies for their destructive forces to the environment.  How much of that hole in the ozone layer do you think comes from releasing 50,000 tons of chloro-fluoro-hydrocarbons per yea?.  The CFCs are not used up in the reaction that breaks down our ozone layer, but are a catalyst that continues to break down the ozone until it excapes our atmosphere.  Make no mistake that the spillover costs of skin cancer due to tobacco never shows up in the medical costs of tobacco, nor does the spill over costs of all that sunblock we must all buy to protect our skin ever get its fair share attributed to tobacco.

And just look at Zimbawbe.  In the 90s they were booming with their tobacco growing, only tobacco growing in a third world country kills the lungs of our world.  Tobacco is highly energy intensive to cure.  In developed countries things like oil are used to cure tobacco.  In third world countries they cut down their forests.  Vast amounts of the deforestation in Zimbawbe and Brazil is due to curing tobacco.  These are the tracks of deforestation that astronauts describe seeing from space.  Indeed, when I was studying this issue in the mid 90s, in the previous 10 years tobacco farmers had gone from just going outside their yards to secure wood to having to travel 10 miles to secure wood to cure tobacco.  It was economic boom times through that era for Zimbawbe, but they have destroyed their forests.  I have not recently checked out if they have any tobacco growing industry left, but without forests, I seriously doubt it.

Most people have no idea the degree to which our planet has suffered mass deforestation simply to cure tobacco. 

The other thing about preventing tobacco use, on average it gives people an extra 17 years of life.  In seventeen years we take a baby and bring them to the end of high school.  An extra 17 years really means it isn't that big of a deal if young people take an extra few years to figure out what it is they want to do with their life.  As long as we enable them to grow up healthy and free of addictions they have a lot more time and resources to figure their lives out.  And then there is the spillover into other drugs.  Something like 85% of cocaine users were smokers first.  Tobacco is a gateway drug.

I've always thought of addiction as chemical slavery and there is no question that the experience of those that manage to escape addition is feeling of liberation.  I don't think there is any greater gift that the gift of freedom. 

So, there I've said it, I can't think of any other donation I make to charity that does more positive for the environment, health and economics of the world and does more to empower people.

9 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On January 01, 2008 at 5:25 PM, devoish (98.56) wrote:

 Make no mistake that the spillover costs of skin cancer due to tobacco never shows up in the medical costs of tobacco, nor does the spill over costs of all that sunblock we must all buy to protect our skin ever get its fair share attributed to tobacco.

Speaking of charity, cancer, skin and sunblock... and I have more evening reading to offer.

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#2) On January 01, 2008 at 5:39 PM, dwot (42.57) wrote:

Interesting looking report. 

Too bad they did not include a small pic of the products they have rated.  I have little hope of distinguishing which I may have used in the past without a picture.  Indeed I couldn't even tell you the brand(s) I currently have in my cupboards, but I might recognize a picture of the product.

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#3) On January 01, 2008 at 7:16 PM, SewellMarbury (63.56) wrote:

You are a great caps player and contributor... regarding your comment I think the subprime mess is over for the big banks, including Citi, Merril Lynch, JP Morgan, Bank of America, etc. They will still have problems in performance but this won't affect the overall market to a great degree, the way it has this year. Don't get me wrong, we won't see an unreal year or anything like that, but the Dow should be up over 14000 at least by the end of the year. I think that's reasonable.

 

Tobacco is definitely a horrible way to make a living. I don't have a huge problem with alcohol companies because although it's addictive and they market it it that way alcohol isn't going to guaranteed ruin your health unless you abuse it. Anyone using tobacco is abusing and that's the difference between the two. Both use pretty lousy and lowhanded marketing to get people hooked.

 

One beer company that I actually admire for not doing this kind of marketing is Sam Adams; their commercials focus on the quality of their product, what dishes to serve their different types with, etc. This is a refreshing change.

 

Big tobacco is still alive and well today and will continue to be so for a while, and I wouldn't have a big problem with the government changing that. 

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#4) On January 01, 2008 at 7:31 PM, EScroogeJr (< 20) wrote:

Sevaral comments:

a) A pack of cigarettes costs $4.50 only because the government taxes it. So the lion's share of your 66k disposable income will in fact go to Uncle Sam.

b) The trouble in Zimbabwe has nothing to do with tobacco and has everything to do with president Robert Mugabe. Not that tobacco is a very good thing, but let's not blame tobacco for every problem in the world from the extinction of dinosaurs to a psychopath in charge in Zimbabwe. 

c) The extra 17 years is a social, not an economic category. In fact, if all smokers increased their life expectancy by that much, that would mean an immediate bancruptcy of Social Security.

d) The "gateway" argument needs substantiation. 

e) Every pack of cigarettes contains a medical warning. That should be enough for anyone who can read. 

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#5) On January 01, 2008 at 8:51 PM, dwot (42.57) wrote:

Tobacco is a huge source of deforestation and their rate of deforestation was completely unsustainable. 

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#6) On January 01, 2008 at 10:36 PM, FoolishChemist (96.72) wrote:

I couldn't agree with you more.  Since you are in Canada you may not have heard about this, but starting today the state of Illinois enacted a smoking ban for all public places like restaurants, bars, sports events (in and outdoors), work.  If you want to light up, you need to be at least 15 feet away from any doors or air vents.  It's a start and hopefully more states will follow our example.

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#7) On January 02, 2008 at 12:14 AM, dwot (42.57) wrote:

FoolishChemist, here in BC in the 1960s our Premiere known as "Wacky Bennette" was a strong anti-tobacco activist you might say.  I have samples of the anti-tobacco programs we had in the 60s and they were exceptional.  BC had the lowest smoking rate by a large margin for years . 

His son also became Premiere and actually sat on the board of directors of Imperial Tobacco and his deputy premiere later had a career as a director of marketing and sales for Imperial Tobacco.  They slaughtered all school programs and our funding level to help prevent kids from starting went down to about a penny per five kids.  They managed to have successful anti-tobacco laws repealed and our smoking rate essentially remained flat where it was declining in pretty much the rest of North America.  I think we were about 8% lower than Ontario and they pretty much caught up with us.

With a lot of activist work we managed to turn that around again by the mid 90s.  We were the first in Canada to have no-smoking restaurants starting in 95 and we were the first to have tobacco smoke regulated by our Workers Compensation Board for the chemicals in it in 2000 rather than as a social problem. That got smoking out of bars.

I assume by your name sake you are also a chemist and I just found the discriminatory treatment of carcinogins insane.  Many of the chemicals in cigarettes you are not only supposed to make sure you have no contact with, you also lower the fumehood door an extra foot to make sure you don't accidently breathe any in.  But it is a free for all off the end of a cigarette?  I did a lot of work making that happen.  I guess it took about 10 years of working on it.

And since we've implemented these measures our smoking rate has declined enormously again.  Good anti-tobacco policies really help smokers to succeed when they try to quit and most make a quit attempt every year or two.

When we were trying to get strong laws about selling cigarettes to minors we used the success of one of your local municipalities.  You had an officer Bruce Talbot work on getting a sales to minors law through that was tested with underage youth 4 times per year and in that community smoking in the 13-14 age group declined by something like 80%.  That was around 91.  We brought him to BC to say what they did that was so successful and that was so critical in helping us get our strong tobacco sales to minors laws.   

I used to follow it very closely, but now I just send the odd donation to help those that do work on the issue.  Right now tobacco companies are going back into a winning run because all of the funding to help prevent kids from starting is being slaughtered.

I read a very good paper taking a disease model of the tobacco epidemic and they looked at it in comparison to an infectious agent causing a disease.  Well, this isn't spread by an infectious agent, but an industry and when that model is applied what becomes clear is that the tobacco industry is the infectious agent and legislation and anti-tobacco funding are the vaccinations.  As soon as these get cut off the disease starts to spread again, and right now the funding has been cut severely. 

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#8) On January 02, 2008 at 10:59 AM, GS751 (27.24) wrote:

As far as banning smoking goes This is coming from someone who does not drink or smoke, I do believe that the government does not have any business regulating, where people can smoke.  I think it should be up to the business owner.  on a personal note, I do not like second hand smoke, and do not like to eat at restaurants that have second hand smoke, but I don't think the goverment should be in the business of regulating smoking in resturants and that this is overstepping their bounds.

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#9) On January 02, 2008 at 1:38 PM, dwot (42.57) wrote:

GS751 for years before I got involved in working to prevent smoking both from starting and in public places I thought through why it is we have government regulation on anything. 

To me, I found nothing wrong with the regulation of harmful substances and I found issue with discriminatory treatment of harmful substances, which is essentially what you have with allowing smoking in public places.

Indeed, my generation is the generation of children without tonsils because their parents smoked.

It is a no brainer that we all agree that pesticides should not be sprayed in our indoor areas yet they should be allowed to come off the end of a cigarette?  Nicotine is a pesticide.

One of my jobs in the 1980s was a spin of on workers rights to know the hazards of that which they are expected to work with and the safety standards of handling those chemicals.  Certainly that job taught me the degree of the hazards of second hand smoke and the existing safety standards to which they were not being subjected.

 

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