18/06/09 Again, It’s for the Children

The mind of a zealot is something to be marveled. Not revered, for it is nothing that does good; but it should be marveled in the way we can semi-admire Hitler for somehow convincing a nation that a race of people needed termination because of his personal ideology.  We do not agree with such views, but from a distance we can appreciate the magnitude of its rarity, and, to a certain extent, the passion behind the eyes.

First, they banned smoking on short-distance flights. Other forms of public transportation followed suit, as did cinemas, shops, shopping centres, and then all enclosed public places. As put out as we felt, we were also naively content in our belief that our private property was ours to do as see fit. Alas, that is not the case. We ignorantly thought the battle over smoking in forms of transportation was over, but no. We have returned to familiar ground and now the cogs have started turning to ban smoking in cars with children. It goes further though, if we follow Canada’s example this will not merely be cars with children present, but cars where children may sit at any time.  Be honest, who didn’t think the third hand story would return to haunt us? We all knew.

The new president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Professor Terence Stephenson, is making it his mission to have this ban a reality.[1]

On the assumption that you wouldn’t pass the packet round and invite the kids to light up, why make them breathe tobacco smoke at all?


So if we do offer them one, we can continue smoking? Seriously though, this is no line of argument. Now, I am not advocating smoking around infants, but the issue is of government interference. When a child is in a car, s/he instantly becomes at risk of paralysis, death, or physical trauma. How? Crashes. To play devil’s advocate, what if the driver were so anxious about missing a cigarette that they became distracted from the road, crashed and seriously injured their child? Would Professor Stephenson be to blame, or at least feel a pang of guilt?

Bringing it back a little, when a child is in a car they are subjected to countless vehicle emissions which have the capacity to cause harm.  Moreover, they are breathing them in vast quantities and have no choice in the matter.  If they get caught behind a truck on the motorway, or stuck in traffic, or even stop at the lights, then the child is forced to breathe in fumes. Surely, then, the only logical, responsible action is for the child to be wrapped in cotton wool, with a bubble placed over his or her head, a pure-air tube connected to ensure quality fresh air is provided at all times, thus guaranteeing no putrid gases will be inhaled.  The only downside here, of course, is that said child will have no natural immunity and will die prematurely. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t….. Then again, the parents can further reward Big Pharma by purchasing lots of wonderful products to ward off infections.

Unfortunately, parents in the UK have smoked around their children for generations.

My parents put me and my brothers and sisters in the back of their car, started their three hour journey and lit up cigarette after cigarette – often with the windows closed.

Ordinarily, people campaign against something that affected them negatively. It is unusual to find someone speaking out against something that he has personal experience of and which caused him no problem. Then again, the zealot’s mind is to be marveled.

This would be a piece of progressive legislation and we would quickly realise the benefits as with other extremely successful motoring interventions – seat belts, mobile phones and drink-driving.

Call me stupid, but I really do not think comparing actions which can directly and immediately cause the death of one or more persons is the same as an act which is doing no harm to another individual. When you talk on a phone, one hand is off the wheel, you are distracted and an accident can happen. Seat belts, if you don’t wear them you can be flung from the vehicle upon impact. And drink-driving, well we all know about that one. But smoking? What is the line of argument? “If you smoke, nothing will happen to your passenger” “shit!”

Those of us in the medical profession, who see the results of passive smoking first hand, need to be ready to lead and make a convincing case.

Perhaps, Terence, you can show us these results? Because God knows we’ve been looking high and low for them. 

[1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8079357.stm

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