Children and cigarettes

This is a Dinosaur Jr. album cover

Two articles today about smoking and cigarettes.

One comes from a jury award in Boston. I’ve read about this case before. In the 1950s, Lollilard employees used to hang out at playgrounds handing out cigarettes to kids to get them started smoking. A jury awarded the family of a woman who died from lung cancer a $152 million judgement (including $81 million in punitive damages) because she got hooked on cigarettes from Lollilard enticing her and others with free cigs. The woman said that Lollilard employees first gave her free cigarettes when she was 9 years old. She got free cigarettes for years and didn’t actually start smoking them until she was 13. Here is her son’s story, in the Boston Globe.

At the trial, Lollilard denied giving away free cigarettes to children. Of course, they wouldn’t lie. Right? I mean, cigarette company never lied about their product causing lung cancer … or nicotine being physically addictive …. right? Smiley

There is also a racial component to the case. The plaintiffs claimed Lollilard intentionally targeted black children in black neighbourhoods with a brand — Newport — that has long been marketed to blacks.

Pretty disgusting stuff.

Cigarette smoke in apartment buildings bad for kids

A recent study showed that children living in apartment buildings had 45 percent higher amount of tobacco byproducts in the their bloodstream than children living in houses … even if adults in their units weren’t smokers.

Time Magazine’s story:

In a study of tobacco exposure from secondhand smoke in more than 5,000 children, researchers led by Dr. Karen Wilson at University of Rochester found that youngsters aged 6 to 18 years who lived in multi-unit housing had a 45% increase in a chemical byproduct of tobacco in their blood compared with children who lived in detached family homes. And these were youngsters who lived in units where nobody smoked inside the apartment itself, meaning that the exposure was occurring primarily via secondhand smoke drifting in from other units.

This study surprised even the scientists involved. 99 percent of white children living in apartment complexes had cotinine, a byproduct of cigarette smoke, in their systems. It’s a pretty shocking story. You should read it.

Frankly, I can believe it. When I still lived in a condo (It was a non-smoking building), I still had neighbours downstairs who smoked. One guy moved in who literally went out on his deck every 20 minutes to smoke. That smoke blew right into my place. It was really nasty when you would get two or three people downstairs outside smoking. One day I came home. I had left my bedroom window open because it was hot, and there was literally a fog of cigarette smoke in the apartment from the guys downstairs. I had to have the carpet cleaned and the upholstery cleaned to get rid of the reek. I had tobacco grit in my throat and nose from breathing it. It reminded me of how awful my parents’ smoke had been. It really pissed me off. Fortunately, he wasn’t a bad guy at all — just utterly clueless about his cigarette smoke — and we were able to work things out amicably (they were breaking the rules. The rules said no smoking on the property, period), and they agreed to stop smoking underneath my deck.

I think it’s a case in which some smokers to this day (granted, a lot of smokers “get it.”) continue to be clueless about just how far their smoke can drift, and just how much it irritates non-smokers.

2 thoughts on “Children and cigarettes”

  1. Pepe, aside from my moniker, I’m a non-smoker that had to put up with a lot of second hand smoke in my family. It didn’t bothered me too much because I never felt trapped by it, but your post about the inescapable apartment struck a chord.

    In Arizona, most of May through September is spent inside with air conditioning that gets stale. When cooler evening and early morning temps finally arrive, the desire for fresh air (and to save a buck or two) sends the windows wide open. To have this yearning met with a cloud of Camel is about the most aggravating thing in the world.

    I admire your devotion to health and awareness with this blog. and participation should build. I went through Jack’s blog earlier and found many initial posts went unresponded. You’re doing a very professional job here that deserves to succeed. Keep it coming.


  2. Apologies if I haven’t mentioned this previously, you you have an excellent blog, Pepe & Haruko!

    I, a non-smoker except for the rare cigar on special-occasions, worry constantly about my father, who will be 82 next month and still smokes up to a pack a day (he used to smoke unfiltered Luckies – up to 2 packs or more daily – but now he’s on the patch and is smoking a low-tar filtered brand, whatever that is).

    When I visited my parents on Thanksgiving, we all rode to dinner and, because my mother had to go to work afterward (she’s a bar-manager at the local Elks Club) I rode back to the house with my dad. His car reeks of cigarette-butts and ashes. I had to roll down the window just to breathe!

    He wants to quit, but his habit is so powerful (after decades of it) that he finds it very difficult…

    Kudos to you for your activism!

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