• 57°

Second-hand smoke now recognized as a killer

A recent health study concluded that tobacco could lower a person’s I.Q. But nowadays, only people with a low I.Q. start smoking in the first place…that paper tube is stuffed with lethal stuff.

The battle over second-hand smoke still rages, but recent evidence points to it as dangerous not only to those sitting near a smoker, but to everyone close enough to smell it.

Smokers don’t like to know that most of them will spend the end years of life dragging around a tank of oxygen and that’s fine with me, but more and more potential customers avoid restaurants that are not courageous enough to post a &uot;smoke free&uot; sign on the door. They don’t want those little clouded rooms nearby.

It’s quite simple to quit smoking: you grow up. That’s it in a nutshell. Never mind those expensive pills and patches, even hypnotism. They work only for a while, about as long as it takes to spend all your money on them. If that nicotine patch could reach up and slap you in the face it might work. If the “quit pill” would make you violently sick when you lit a smoke, you’d have a chance. But they don’t, and you are still childlike enough to wither and scramble even for a soggy butt in an ashtray.

To stop smoking requires guts, and smokers don’t have enough to walk away from cigarettes, even when they know that next cigarette may be the one that starts them on a fast track to the cemetery.

I remember my doctor said if I didn’t quit I’d soon be visited by the medical examiner. I was still sucking on them when it was all I could do to draw a breath. That was back in 1969, and I had been a victim 26 years since joining the army in 1943. I knew I was going downhill fast, and about that time the world woke up and started a war against smoking. It’s funny how that was enough to make me think seriously about my health when being unable to breathe didn’t. Fortunately there were no pills or patches in 1970, so I had to become a man and grow up. Was it easy? Ask my wife, whom I threatened to strangle often during the madness of “drying out.”

During the last nationwide Smoke Out, only 36 smokers vowed to go a whole day without. By noon, 16 were literally crawling on walls, nails dug into the plaster. Ten were sobbing and begging their wives to please untie them because they couldn’t manage their zippos with hands behind their back…five banged their heads on a neighbor’s door pleading to be set free. Three actually swore they were cured and would never touch tobacco again – the same three men who said they had married for love. One died of a self-inflicted gunshot. All in all, the Great American Smoke Out was as successful as our UDO (Unified Development Ordinance), and the price of a pack is outrageous.

I did some quick numbers on other products. So you think gasoline is expensive and you cuss when looking at the pump receipt for just four quarts of liquid: $2.95 a gallon. But if you drink a can of Diet Snapple, 16 ounces at a $1.29, that’s $10.32 per gallon. Figuring the gallon costs of other possible purchases revealed Gatorade at $10.17 a gallon, Ocean Spray an even $10, and brake fluid $33. You might keep on coughing when you figure NyQuil at $178 per gallon. You will correct less spelling errors if you use Whiteout at $25, and gargle less when you figure a gallon of Scope is $64. Would it really soothe your stomach when Pepto Bismol rings in at

$123? Then there are cute little bottles of spring water, about seventeen bucks a gallon n how far can you drive on that? n and restrooms seem to get farther and farther apart.

Robert Pocklington is a columnist for the Suffolk News-Herald. He can be reached at robert.pocklington@ suffolknewsherald.com