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Hospitals Send Mixed Message w/Smoking Area

re: The following is a post at the new Opinion Page blog, A Matter of Opinion. Check out the blog and participate in the conversation here.

The following is part of Dr. George Bagby's response to Robyn Blumner's article on cigarette-butt litter:

It is worthy of note that we lose just over 1,000 American soldiers in Iraq each year; 300,000 lives are lost approximately, directly or indirectly, from smoking tobacco. In the three years of World War II we lost 500,000 Americans.

I see various reasons that our American citizens do not see the importance of each relative to these losses of life. One is that it came on insidiously (in spite of the wake-up call of Pearl Harbor, for example). The bombing of 9/11/01 again was acute and not gradual and insidious. The other things that allow tobacco smoking to continue to be legal in the United States is that the manufacturers of such make a tremendous amount of money and hire a lot of workers to also have decent salaries.

The most obvious thing to me, however, is the fact that with the law allowing it and our hospitals hiring workers to be tobacco smokers, and providing an outside place on the hospital properties for smokers or people to smoke, is an obvious endorsement of smoking tobacco in spite of the fact that hospitals primarily are for treating and preventing medical problems.

I've had similar thoughts entering and exiting hospitals. Is the designated smoking area an inexcusable condoning of dangerous behavior or a concession to reality -- or something else?

(AP file photo)

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Huckleberries Online

D.F. Oliveria started Huckleberries Online on Feb. 16, 2004. Oliveria's Sunday print Huckleberries is a past winner of the national Herb Caen Memorial Column contest.