Several years ago the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Richard Caroma, was very concerned about the nation's rising asthma epidemic. And he should be, as 20 million Americans now have asthma, or three times as many persons as just 25 years ago. Yet the nation shows no seriousness in outlawing the number one cause of new asthma cases, secondhand cigarette smoke, or even public smoking.
And children are paying a very high price for the selfish nicotine drug addiction behavior of many adults. There are 5,000 hospital emergency room visits required for asthma in the U.S. each day in America, costing the health care system around $500 million a year in emergency room costs alone, often with the taxpayer having to pay the bill. Many of these persons hospitalized are children. And one in eight American children now have asthma, the highest number ever recorded. And 1,000 persons become hospital admissions due to asthma each day. And some children or adults die each day from this serious breathing disorder, that could be greatly reduced if only politicians had the political backbone and willpower to ban any tobacco product that emits toxic air pollution that can impact the health of nonusers of the product.
Cigarettes infringe on the basic human rights of children or those with chronic lung problems to breathe clean air. And cigarette smoke is the only form of air pollution that emits a drug, nicotine, and other toxic substances such as lead that are banned by the EPA from any other sources of air pollution. Medical evidence proves that secondhand cigarette smoke reduces intelligence scores on tests as well destroys REM sleep patterns in nonsmokers. And by transmitting an unwanted highly addictive drug, nicotine, to nonusers, smokers may be helping to force nicotine addiction on persons such as children. Nicotine is thought to be as addictive as heroin by many experts in addiction medicine sciences.
And asthma is fast becoming an urban and inner city illness, where selfish nicotine drug addict adults exist in high numbers who refuse to stop smoking for the sake of children. These drug addicts, like all selfish drug addicts, only prize their next drug fix more highly than the lives of children or adults with chronic illness. Cigarette smokers are a more serious and widespread drug abuse threat to children than any other form of child abuse. Yet government is not very serious to stop this child abuse epidemic.
As with any inner city epidemic, such as hunger, poverty, drug abuse or even gun violence, it is often the African American or other minority communities that suffers most from these inner city issues, not the larger White population. This is only the latest way in which powerful Southern tobacco business interests are profiting from promoting misery in some minority communities. It was tobacco and cotton interests who also first brought slaves to America from Africa, helped to launch some pro-slavery churches such as the Southern Baptists, and helped to cause the civil war when slavery was threatened. Now many in minority communities find themselves trapped in a $5 a day or more nicotine addiction that often will cost them more than the price of gas per day to drive to work. Nicotine addiction has become the modern form of slavery from the same wealthy interests who first brought many to America in chains in ship hulls to work as free labor for wealthy tobacco farmers. And smoking has also become one of America's worst exports to Asian nations such as China.
There is really little way for children or adults with chronic respiratory problems to avoid exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke. It is all over. Smokers smoke near bus stops, in grocery store parking lots, or on public sidewalks as children walk by on their way to school. The EPA does not allow other corporate air polluters to dump drugs such as nicotine in the public air, but the cigarette industry and smokers are given a special pass by this air quality regulation agency.
Drug dealers are even allowed a legal reason to loiter on public streets or even in grocery store entrances, selling harmful substances such as meth, because there are few laws that ban loitering as long as a person is smoking. If a drug dealer was simply standing there, they would raise attention from law enforcement or security and be forced to leave the area.
The American economy pays a very high price for this nicotine drug addiction with lost days from work or school because of asthma or illness. And asthma costs $16 billion yearly in medical costs, that could be drastically cut if politicians would only just stop accepting tobacco lobbyist donations, paid vacations, and other tobacco industry favors to give tobacco a free ride from many government regulations. The fact of the matter is that the American automobile industry and many other industries face very serious and expensive air pollution regulations while the tobacco industry and smokers face virtually no air pollution regulations. This all proves the power of the tobacco lobby. And few lawsuits against the cigarette industry have survived in courts, because the tobacco industry can mount endless appeals of cases until they get the verdict they desire.
Under President Obama, congress will likely strengthen up some government regulations over the tobacco industry somewhat. But even the president himself smokes and admits how hard it is to quit cigarettes. This drug addiction problem reaches all the way into even the White House because it is such a serious public health menace and quiting smoking is so difficult because the tobacco industry knows full well that this nicotine drug is so highly addictive and how that only drives up their profits, no matter the public health cost.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!