SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES
By EDWIN D. REILLY, Jr.
For the Sunday Gazette
Bob Newhart goes
back in time
to 16th century
Are you saying “snuff,” Walt? What's snuff? You take a pinch of tobacco (giggling in disbelief) and you shove it up your nose! And it makes you sneeze, huh. I imagine it would, Walt, yeah. Goldenrod seems to do it pretty well over here. It has some other uses, though? You can chew it? Or put it in a pipe? Or you can shred it up and put it on a piece of paper, and roll it up—don't tell me, Walt, don't tell me—you stick in your ear, right Walt? Oh, between your lips! Then what do you do to it? (More intense giggling) You set fire to it! And you inhale the smoke! …Walt, we've been a little worried about you... You’ll have a tough time getting people to stick burning leaves in their mouth..
Would that that were
true. H. Allen Smith called this the greatest single comedy
had ever heard. To my mind, the only competitors for that accolade are
and Costello’s “Who’s on first?” and Bill Cosby’s Noah routine. But is
Walter solely responsible for spreading the insidious practice among
Colonial American population and thence back to
But beyond the snuff and puff is serious
stuff. About 42,000 Americans are killed in automobiles each year
incidents that are not necessarily “accidents” because so many are
drunken drivers. But ten times that many die from smoking each year,
of these are accidents. The number would be even higher than 400,000 if
to include those who do not smoke but spend too much time in close
someone who does.
I get no credit for not smoking because I
never started. One day, when I was 10, two incipient bullies tried to
get me to
try a puff, but the more they insisted, the harder I resisted. Besides
wanting to yield to force, I just thought, that smoking was silly. To
I can’t imagine why people want to cloud their mind with any kind of
especially tobacco, which is more lethal than many that are illegal.
they solve their quadratic equations? Cope with Microsoft software? Do
crosswords and Sudoku in record time? Write their op ed
By now, of course, we know that tobacco is
an addictive poison that kills. I doubt that there are many readers of
Gazette essays who smoke. The practice is waning and seems now to be
much confined to male construction workers; high school girls who think
they are immortal; young women who, like aspiring actresses, like to
a cigarette in their hand; and, saddest to say, health care
aides far more than doctors. None of these have time to read op ed screeds. So I am not writing for smokers, but
abolitionists who want a few tips on what can be done to persuade loved
Sales prohibition doesn’t work; the
country has been there, done that, with regard to
nor does it work now by declaring other mind-boggling chemicals
perhaps the best we can do in this regard is to make procurement
Yes, there is an age limit to purchase. But more could be done to
incidence of smoking.
The DARE program tries to do this through
education of our children. So does Smoke-Free
led by physicians Clifford Tepper and Arnold Ritterband with
services delivered by Executive Director Shelly Glock. That organization is essentially a subcommittee of the
County Health Services Committee and derives its funding from the
portion of past tobacco suit settlements.
Great progress has been made in banning
smoking in public buildings, particularly restaurants. But why does the
extend to a wider swath around them rather than placing receptacles at
entrances that induce patrons to stand near the doorway and make me
around their mushroom clouds? To do so, I try to conspicuously walk a
circle around them, hoping they’ll get the hint. Or worse, companies
picnic tables or even gazebos marked as smoking areas. Absurd.
Legislators, collect those taxes on the effectively subsidized cigs sold on Indian reservations and over the Internet. Parents and grandparents, speak to your non-smoking high-school students and urge them not to kiss boy- or girlfriends who smoke. That would send the instant messages they are so fond of. And write to the movie moguls and ask them to add a new rating for movies that so warrant—GS for Gratuitous Smoking (not to be confused with Graphic Something or other).
Some years ago I saw a sign near a fire
extinguisher in a
D. Reilly, Jr., Treasurer
of Smoke-Free Schenectady, lives in