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October 01, 2002 1 min read
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Kicking Butts

Congratulations on your attempt to reach children about the dangers of smoking [“No Ifs, Ands, or Butts,” May/June].

As a substitute teacher, it seems to me that more teen-agers than ever are starting to smoke. Since I’m also the father of an impressionable teenage daughter, this concerns me.

The peer pressure is tremendous—just the way Big Tobacco likes it. Who needs Joe Camel when you’ve got networks of friends working as little platoons of marketing soldiers out there, Zippo lighters at the ready?

The urge, of course, is to take kids to the cancer wards of hospitals and give them a little glimpse of the future. But would looking at gape-mouthed patients hooked up to breathing machines have any impact on an age group that figures it’s immortal?

How much could they relate to what they are seeing? They certainly couldn’t picture this kind of sad indignity ever coming their way because lung cancer, for them, is still decades away.

Decades pass quickly. You can’t tell them that, either, of course.

In some lobbying literature, tobacco companies claim to be “battling for their very life.” But somehow I get the feeling they are not battling as hard as my dad did for his.

They’re still here. He’s all gone.

Mark Andel
Woodstock, Illinois


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