terri

“My (11-year-old) grandson has never heard my real voice. I don’t even remember what my own voice sounds like.” – Terrie Hall of North Carolina.

Terrie was a former high-school cheerleader.

She has blonde hair, and was once very pretty.

She started smoking at 13 years of age.

Today, one can hardly stand looking at her or listening to her…even for a second. Her voice is reminiscent of fingernails on a chalk board.

And yet there she is night-after-night during the intermissions of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are running a series of absolutely graphic and brutal ads to shake people up.

Will they be able to overcome the controlling addictive power of nicotine?

I doubt it.

Walking up to the University of Oregon “Smoke and Tobacco Free Campus” each day, I literally run the second-hand smoke gauntlet. The policy has cleared the air on campus, but nicotine has simply pushed the smokers to the peripheries.

Have we accomplished anything?

Don’t get me wrong, I support this policy 100 percent even though I harbor a strong libertarian bent.

Some have commented that getting off nicotine is more difficult than going cold turkey with heroin. I wouldn’t know in either case, and I am not going to find out.

Whether or not this is an empirically and peer-reviewed scientific fact, there is little doubt in my mind about the addictive power of cigarettes.

Reportedly, Terrie was smoking right before her larynx removal surgery in 2001. She now breathes through a stoma and speaks through a “hands-free” device. Charming.

Wonder if the smokers on the edge of campus think about this prospect?

As many of my readers know, I am a widower because of smoking. I am neither neutral nor dispassionate about this subject.

All forms of encouragement from me, my daughter and her friends failed to convince my late-wife Robin to quit her death pins. There was always a reason, always a rationale, always an excuse. The nicotine was talking. It was always talking.

The days leading up to her death were horrific. I will spare you the details other than to say that one bodily function after another failed.

As Robin was mercifully sleeping as the clock was running out on her life, I remember walking out of the Pleasanton, CA hospital into early spring chill. There they were. Patients bracing the wind and rain in their hospital gowns clinging to their IV-poles…smoking.

Robin passed on July 10, 2005, officially ending her addiction to cigarettes. She would say now that I am blaming the victim. I say she was the self-inflicted victim of nicotine.

Terrie does not have the luxury of death…at least not yet. You know it’s coming earlier than it should. Her ads will be sad reminder of the end of her life…but does anyone really care?

As a public relations instructor and practitioner, I comprehend the power and reach of social marketing using both conventional and digital means. The CDC ads during the Stanley Cup Playoffs certainly grabbed my attention…but fortunately for me, I am not the “target” audience.

The smoking hockey fans may simply flip the remote switch. Instead of watching “Terrie,” let’s see what is happening in the NBA playoffs…

How long will it take for our society to do the right thing?

Ads and bans are well-intentioned half-way steps in the right direction, but they will ultimately fail. The nicotine enemy is too strong.

If Philip Morris came out with a Goebbels-brand of cyanide cigarettes, Bunker 45s, the government would immediately ban them just as they would step in to stop the sale of Jim Jones’ Kool-Aid.

The reason is simple cyanide cigarettes and Jamestown Kool-Aid are fast-and-lethal poisons.

Okay, let’s state categorically and unequivocally that cigarettes are slow-and-lethal poisons. The key words are “lethal” and “poisons.” If the primary purpose of government is to protect the health and safety of its citizens, shouldn’t the government do the right thing and wipe this nicotine scourge off the planet?

How many tobacco farmers will lose their jobs? How many support workers lost their jobs when Dachau closed down?

How much public revenue will be lost if cigarettes are banned? The higher cost ($6 a pack) has not dented smoking. Addicted smokers will pay anything and even sacrifice the well-being of their loved ones for their lethal fix. Are tax revenues coming at the expense of dead-and-dying smokers, blood money?

Consider the dynamic effect on government expenditures if smoking related illnesses dropped dramatically, thus reducing public health-care costs.

My call for banning slow-poison cigarettes will be dismissed as impractical at best and radical at worst.

I have never been labeled as “radical” in my life. Heck, I voted for Mitt Romney…does that put me into the fondly remembering the excesses of Woodstock crowd?

Some will say that I am still suffering from the loss of my smoking wife, Robin. That criticism is valid, but how many people in this country and on this planet have endured the same fate…and for what purpose?

Well-conceived and intended half-way measures will ultimately fail with all due respect to the CDC’s Terrie. Even if cigarettes are banned…and I pray that someday we will have the courage to do so…there will always be a black market for smokes.

So what?

At least, we won’t have to watch the next generation’s Terrie in the middle of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/resources/videos/terrie-videos.html#terrie

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyVLKHEqTu0

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/28/cdc-anti-smoking-ads/2018121/

http://www.cdc.gov/

http://healthyoregon.uoregon.edu/Tobacco.aspx?q=TobaccoFree

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