Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Marlboro Man was born that way

Drinking is now called a disease.

Drug use is now called a disease.

Even gambling addiction has been upgraded to a disease.

But cigarette addiction: not called a disease. In fact, smokers are treated as though they're a disease. They're even quarantined like a disease. No one shows them the slightest compassion. Quite the opposite. Folks will regurgitate the claim that "nicotine is more addictive than heroin," then two seconds later cast disdain on the smokers puffing on the sidewalk outside the bar.

How about all the cartoonish outrage against cigarette companies? They're vilified for "targeting" new addicts. But what about beer companies? Their ads, which are EVERYWHERE - TV, magazines, billboards, sporting events - don't aim to make drinking seem cool? How about bar owners: their entire enterprise consists of intoxicating "diseased" folks right before they get in a car to drive home. Sounds pretty callous to me. Cigarette companies have to put pictures of diseased lungs on cigarette packs. How come Miller doesn't have to garnish its beer bottles with pictures of beaten wives or families flattened by drunk truckers?

What about casinos? Unlike tobacco companies, Vegas still gets to advertise on TV. Yet when was the last time you saw an attorney general get elected by taking brave stands against backgammon?

Here's how it is: alcoholics, drug addicts, and hardened gamblers very often destroy their lives and the lives of everyone around them. Telling them a disease was at the root of it makes it easier for them to cope with the damage they've inflicted, and thus find a way to start over. Which is more likely to get someone to attempt a painful rebirth; telling him he's a victim too, and therefore his neglected kids, traumatized wife, deceived friends, and stiffed creditors aren't entirely his fault, or telling him he indulged himself to the point that it dragged everyone he cared about into the undertow?

Ironically, because cigarette smoking DOESN'T wreck lives we don't bother qualifying our criticism of it. You hear that smokers: a little less nicotine gum and a little more domestic abuse and soon you'll be welcomed back indoors. Or just start calling cigarette addiction a disease and attack anyone on Twitter who dares suggest otherwise. After a few radio and TV hosts lose their jobs for being Kool-o-phobic everyone will magically forget that for decades cigarette smokers were treated like lepers.

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