As an occasional cigar smoker, I have always been intrigued by the extreme reaction to smoking by mature adults. It seems that, on the one hand, we have vilified and demonized smoking in any form, while at the same time we have glorified and glamorized alcohol consumption and the use of cannibis. Just look at commercials on television to see the image of young, hip, sexy, adults swaggering with a drink in their hand. The scenario I often use goes something like this…
Imagine you are at a bar or party. On one side of you is a person who has just consumed an excessive amount of beer and chased each bottle with a shot of whiskey (I just witnessed this at a bar in Northern Virginia, where I saw a stranger drinking excessively, and wondered whether the individual was going to get on the Beltway and endanger the lives of others). On the other side is a person who has one beer and smokes a cigar or a cigarette for the pure enjoyment of it. Which person do you want to get into his car and head down the highway you happen to be on traveling at 60+ miles per hour? I think the answer is obvious to most rational, thinking people. I know that I would rather face the person who just enjoyed a cigar or cigarette and one beer. Clearly, the alcohol lobby has done a far better job of marketing its addictive products than the tobacco lobby has done marketing its addictive products.
I have been similarly intrigued by the national trend (some would say movement) in favor of the legalization of marijuana. Again, imagine you are at a bar or a party. On one side of you is a person who has just smoked marijuana and is clearly under the influence of an intoxicant. On the other side of you is a person who just smoked a cigar or a cigarette and drank a cold beer. Again, the question is, who do you want to face you on the highway on your way home?
It has always seemed to me that this boils down to “your smoke or my smoke.” It also seems to me that many of the same people who oppose cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoking are often the same people who favor the legalization of marijuana. Correct me if I am wrong, but is smoke not smoke in any form? Is one not putting a potential carcinogen into their body when they smoke marijuana, just as when they smoke tobacco? And, if the argument is that marijuana smoke is not a carcinogen, do we really know that to be factually accurate? Is second-hand smoke the domain of tobacco only? Do the same people who are clamoring for the legalization of marijuana not see that second-hand smoke is also present in their actions, and that they may be annoying and potentially harming those around them, particularly young children?
In addition to this argument is the neuro-psychological effects of marijuana smoking on the brain? In a society that already has far too many addiction problems (alcohol, opiods, heroin, amphetamines, etc.) why are we introducing yet another potentially addicting, if not socially damaging, substance to an already drug-dependent society? My mother always advised me, “Everything in moderation, Ralph, everything in moderation…” Her words ring true in this instance.
As always, your civil, educated thoughts and comments are welcomed.