Westminster is a town of 7,400 residents an hour-and-a-half outside Boston where 17% of the people smoke. And 1,200 of those 7,400 have signed a petition to counter the local Board of Health’s proposal to ban all tobacco and nicotine products for sale in the city limits. (If passed, it would be the first town in America to do so.) According to The New York Times, things went so ballistic during the town hall meeting on the matter that it ended 20 minutes after it started.
It’s actually not even the smokers who are the most against the proposed ban; it’s those who just like the way America works and don’t want to see the five convenience stores go out of business. The Times quoted a guy named Kevin West who says that smoking is “one of the most disgusting habits anybody could possibly do [but]I find this proposal to be even more of a disgusting thing.”
Locals are blaming “outside groups” for testing the ban on Westminster but the local Board of Health says it’s not a test and a spokesperson for Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris, says they weren’t involved either. I’d actually go out on a limb and guess that Altria wasn’t too happy. They made $24 billion dollars last year and a chunk of that goes to lobbying costs to relax smoking laws in Washington. If the feds started banning smoking entirely in towns across the country, Altria would obviously stop paying for their drinks.
Trying to Protect the Young, Duh
The local Board of Health says the reason for the proposal is a moral obligation to try and stop young people from smoking once they realized that nothing was working against new products such as bubblegum-flavored cigars and strawberry-margarita-flavored tobacco. Teenagers may not buy those awful-sounding products but CBS News reports in a new article that more than a fifth of American teens use tobacco in some way.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that nine out of 10 smokers had their first cigarette at 18 and that 5.6 million current 17-year-olds will die early from smoking-related disease. The CDC also reports that in 2013, 18% of middle school students had used tobacco and that 75% of high school smokers will continue to do it into adulthood. Among those smoking, 480,000 die a year and for every death, 32 people have smoking-related diseases.
Is Quitting for Losers?
But this isn’t the only smoking news coming down the pike, as a Psychiatric News just reported on a new study out of the Weizmann Institute in Israel which claims that people can quit smoking through a weird system of pairing cigarette smoke smells with rotten eggs and fish smells during the second stage of sleep. Yep. Out of 76 smokers, the ones who received the digesting smells during the second stage of their sleeping cycle reported a 34% drop in smoking the next week. Those who got it during the REM cycle only reported a 12% drop. What will they think of next?
Of course, I may have my reasons for being defensive. I had my first cigarette and chewing tobacco product in high school and I still smoke. My surgeon dad has told me everything about it, I write articles like this and I still do it. Why? Because I want to. We’re all going to do what we want. The people of Westminster have every right to be upset. If smokers have all the facts and still do it, then who has the right to stop them from killing themselves? America’s a blank slate where people are born and can do anything they want when they want it and however they want it. That’s what the citizens of Westminster believe, at least. As do I.
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