I must tell you. I am no “goody two shoes.”

As a relatively young kid, my next door neighbor, Billy, and I would go to the top of our garage and smoke Parliaments (chosen because they had a recessed filter). A few years later, I even took two puffs of a fat cigar. My head spun and I buried it before I coughed any more. When I started college, I briefly tried smoking cigarettes again. Thankfully, the taste was repugnant to me.

So, why am I so against smoking? My family has suffered a toll from smoking.

My father smoked two plus packs a day. I partially blame his death, at the age of 68, on smoking.

My sister began smoking in high school and at the age of 44, smoking took her life, too. She had various symptoms, went into the hospital for exploratory surgery, part of one lung was removed and she developed a blood clot in her other lung. Within a few days, she had died. This hit me so directly that when our corporate offices were going to move out of Philadelphia to the suburbs, I wrote a memo to the Vice President of Human Resources, who graduated in my sister’s class in high school, and told him he should make the new office a non-smoking facility. This was around 30 years ago so I can’t remember exactly what the new policy was. Either the entire new building was no smoking or there was one small area that permitted smoking.

Death pounced on my father and sister even though they had quit smoking many years before.

https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm states: “Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year (including secondhand smoke).” Also: “On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers and the total economic cost of smoking in the United States is over $300 billion a year (including medical care, lost production due to premature death and exposure to secondhand smoke).”

Three cheers for CVS pharmacy! They took out a full page add in the “Wall Street Journal” on Sept. 3, 2019 that said: “Proud to be tobacco-free since 2014”. The ad went on to say: “We’re still the only national pharmacy to quit selling tobacco. Within a year of our action, people bought 100 million fewer packs of cigarettes.”

I have read two sources on vaping. One the “Philadelphia Inquirer” of Sept. 29, 2019, which said there were 805 cases (in 46 states) including 12 deaths. A mere three weeks later (Nov. 21) the “Philadelphia Inquirer” reported 2,290 vaping related lung injury cases resulting in 47 deaths. Obviously, all of these figures will vary depending on procedures for data collection.

There is a separate article in the Sept. 29 “Inquirer” entitled “Britain embracing e-cigarettes as antismoking tool”. A main point in the article is “The reality with smoking is, if you tell people to stop vaping, they will go back to tobacco and tobacco kills.”

I am not qualified to agree with either argument. However, I don’t understand why vaping is legal only because it will kill fewer than smoking will. People have been killing themselves by smoking for many decades. E-cigarettes have only been in the United States since 2006. If left unregulated (there is some regulation now), what will the vaping statistics be like in a decade or more.

Finally, why would one trust vaping? There have been many illnesses and deaths already, e-cigarettes are produced by the cigarette companies, e-cigarettes originated by an Asian company, they have nicotine in them and anyone who puffs on them and has a huge cloud of smoke in their faces is looking for trouble.

Ultimately, the United States government must commit the resources to ban nicotine, have more programs to help people stop smoking, and face the economic impact through training and growing different crops.

Jeff Hall, of Honey Brook, is a columnist for Berks-Mont Newspapers.

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