Friday, May 1, 2009

Smokers abound in Paris

When I went out today, I was astonished by how many people were smoking (fumer). You can not walk down the street without literally being choked. Since they banned smoking in restaurants, cafes, hotels, and hospitals in Paris this has driven the smokers out on to the side walks. I decided to investigate why all these people (gens) were smoking so much. What were the facts?

15,000,000 people smoke in France [1] and on January 1
st, 2008, cigarettes were banned in enclosed areas : cafés, restaurants, and in hospitals. The government is spending lots of money on advertisements asking people to stop smoking. Still the French continue to smoke.

The smokers say cigarettes represent
libérte, or freedom, but health ministers claim that both active and passive smoking costs many lives and costs French tax payers millions in additional funding to its universal health care system
, which is already over-burdened with debt.

In France, 60, 000 people die every year due to smoking. In a debate on France 24 (a TV news network), 3 January 2008, Lauren A. Colby [2], an American lawyer (paid by the tobacco lobby) argued that there is no evidence whatsoever that smoking causes lung cancer or death. He also says that the countries where people smoke the most are where there are the longest life spans.

Dr Hirayama [3], of the National Cancer Center Research Institute in Tokyo,
proved in 1981 that wives of smokers in Japan had about 2o to 25 % increased rates of lung cancer. It was through these studies that Dr Hirayama demonstrated the first real proof of the effects of 2nd hand smoking.

I support banning smoking and trying to get people to reduce the quantity of tobacco they consume. I think it is time now to rely on children - who are, if we are not careful the smokers of the future. This is what I would do to prevent kids from smoking:

When I was in CM1, which is 4
th grade in America, I went to a road safety lesson with my entire class . They showed us pictures and videos of car accidents and people dying because of them; after that, my class and I thought twice before crossing a road without looking carefully. My point is that it has stuck with me all of these years. However, I went to a stop smoking conference with my class 2 months ago and I have already forgotten most of the presentation. This goes to show that it was not shocking enough for me or my class. So, I would start educating children by showing them the shocking reality, using videos of surgery on patients with lung cancer, with commentaries explaining the medical situation and even interviewing a smoker with acute lung cancer. I would start this training in 6th grade, when children start getting the idea from older kids.

Many parents smoke, and thus influence their kids. After a while children whose parents smoke start getting ideas like, "My parents smoke, smoking is cool," or "smoking is being grown up". I disagree with both of these ideas . I think smoking is damaging and dangerous both to the smokers and anyone near them.

1. Debate on France 24, 3 of January 2008
2. Lauren A. Colby on the same France 24 debate
3. Dr. Hirayama New York Times