my opinions

Friday, April 22, 2005

Legislation

Dear Rep. Larry Cretul,

Recently a Bill was approved by the Senate Criminal Justice committee giving actors certain exemptions when it comes to smoking in public places. Actors would be exempt from the constitutional amendment that limits smoking to bars, designated hotel rooms and home offices. This Bill is absolutely absurd to me.

Why should one sect of the population be given special treatment regarding this issue? Basically the Bill was passed in order to allow smoking as part of theater performances. I feel that this just opens up the door for even more compromises in the future.

Smoking is not a necessary part of acting. Props can be used for smoking just like they are used for other activities. I don't think it is at all necessary to pass a Bill for such a minor sect of the population.

I was happy to see that Senator Mike Haridopolos was against the Bill, and tried to have the language removed. I support his position that we should be enforcing constitutional amendments, rather than trying to find exceptions to them.

I hope that you to will see the absurdity of this Bill, and do your best to lobby against it. Thank you for your time.

Anti-Smoking Ad


Don't Pollute My Lungs!


If your choose to smoke, please don't let your decision impact others. Refrain from smoking in public places. Be considerate, smoke outdoors, not in confined spaces.

Support local legislation to ban smoking in public places. Including bars and restaurants. Employees, as well as customers, should not be subjected to the harmful effects of smoking.

This ad has been posted at Huntington Lakes, Lake Crossing, and Carpenter & Roscow P.A.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Pro-Smoking Section

This is a review of two pro-smoking sites:

http://www.ccsr.org/news

This site provides people with recent news that affects their rights as smokers. The main initiative of the group is for people to get involved. Once informed they provide people with the means to take action. They provide contact information for our legislators. Contact information through e-mail, post, and telephone is provided. They also provide information for people to get involved in rallies and demonstrations. The last initiative is for people to also contact local news sources. The site claims that Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, who is the president of the American Council on Science and Health, states that the issue of second hand smoke and its effects is controversial. Dr. Whelan states that there is no evidence that a bar employee or customer has ever died from second hand smoke, even though there are claims that 1,000 New Yorker’s a year die in this manner. The site also claims that the World Health Organization conducted a study concluding that secondhand smoke poses no health hazards. The site also claims that smokers may have less healthy habits throughout their lives which could be confounding variables causing them not to live as long.

http://www.forces.org/

This is a site which is not in support of smoking, but the freedom of every individual to be able to smoke if they choose to do so. The site also advocates how the dangers of smoking have been highly inflated. The first item of dissent the site discusses is how governments over dramatize the health hazards of smoking as well as the mortality rates. The site claims that the statistical models are flawed, and the methodology used is corrupt. They also claim that independent critiques are simply dismissed without further thought. The site also claims that there are many confounding variables which could be the cause of death for an individual, yet they are attributed to smoking. The site claims that a direct causal relationship between smoking and death has been propagated for years, yet this claim can not be proven.

In response to claims made by these pro-smoking sites it is important to address a few key issues. First of all, the issue of confounding variables is an interesting point, but these sites fail to acknowledge that the center for disease control does adjust its research and does account for confounding variables. Some studies have even found that controlling certain variables may even increase the number of deaths attributed to smoking. The next issue that is important to address is whether or not the number of deaths attributed to smoking is exaggerated. There is a dispute over what age should be considered a premature death, and whether or not it can be attributed to cigarettes. I feel that regardless of numbers it is important to recognize the health risks associated with smoking, and practice prevention rather than argui

Anti-Smoking Section

Below is a review of two anti-smoking sites:

http://www.no-smoke.org/

One initiative that this site is working on is fighting for a Smokefree Colorado. Currently the Denver, Colorado legislator is considering a smoke free workplace law. The site then provides a form that people can fill out and e-mail directly to the legislator. The site is also curretly working to contact thie North Dakota legislator about the smoke free indoor air act, senate bill 2300. A similar format is provided in order for people to compose an e-mail to be sent to the legislator. a

http://www.nose.cc/

This another anti-smoking advocacy site. The a current initiative for this site is to restore local control of smoking laws. The are working for local communities to have control of their air quality. In order to get involved a phone number is provided for the visitors of the site. Their slogan is “Breathe Easy in the Big Easy.”

I am glad to see that there are sites advocating non-smokers rights. I agree that we all have certain liberties that should not be infringed on, but when someone’s habit is affecting the health of someone else unnecessarily, that is when we need to take action. It is nice to see a forum where people can get involved, fight for their rights, and contact their local legislatures.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Functional Assessment of Silence in Response to Conflict

We all engage in certain kinds of behaviors everyday. After analyzing some of my own behaviors, I noticed something very interesting. Sometimes when I am angry, upset, or someone is being confrontational towards me, I choose to be totally silent. This is a behavior that I feel I have fairly recently developed, and one that I am more likely to exhibit towards authority figures.

Throughout my life, I have always thought of myself as a fairly outspoken person, and have never really had a problem standing up for myself. After some self examination I realized that this behavior has really gotten worse in the past couple of years. I think that I have pinpointed the root cause of the behavior.

About two-three years ago I began to have a lot of conflict with my father. We had always had a fairly close relationship, but as I began to grow up, and show more independence, we began to be in constant conflict with one another. In the beginning I tried to be open and honest with him, but he never seemed to really hear me. After failing to communicate properly I began to just totally shut down when a conflict would arise. I would go completely silent as my father went on and on. As time passed, my relationship with my father has improved, due in part to my leaving home, yet I realize this silent behavior that I developed is still being exhibited.

This behavior has spread to other areas of my life as well. Sometimes there are conflicts at work, school, and with friends, and I find myself choosing to be silent rather than confronting the issues at hand. I believe I began this behavior in an attempt to avoid certain issues, but in actuality I was really just making things worse. Nothing was getting resolved. By exhibiting this behavior I was increasing my anxiety and causing myself and others to become frustrated. I think when I first began this behavior I thought that by being silent I could avoid or at least postpone the conflict with my father. By not arguing with him, the conversation seemed to come to and end quicker.

One similarity that I noticed between my behavior and that of smoking is that it is something that I was engaging in, in response to a stressful situation. I felt attacked, and in response I stopped talking. Sometimes when smoker’s are engaged in a conflict with other’s they feel they need a cigarette in order to calm themselves. One difference I noticed was that once engaged in a conflict, a smoker will smoke in order to relieve anxiety, but when I am engaged in a conflict my behavior does not relieve anxiety at all. Nothing seems to ever be resolved. The anxiety just has a tendency to build.

When I began this blog assignment, I thought it would be a lot more difficult than it actually was. I really couldn’t think of a behavior to write on at first. Then it dawned on me that this silent reaction to conflict was actually an issue I needed to address. I am glad we had to participate in this self-reflective assignment.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Stress and Smoking: A Case Study

After reading the article for this weeks assignment, the overall message that I took from it is that viewing cigarette smoking as a method for stress relief may be inaccurate. The author argues that smoking may actual increase stress because the smoker has different moods between cigarettes, may become stressed, and need a another cigarette. Stress may be caught up in this vicious cycle. In order to get a deeper insight into the issue, I interviewed my grandfather on his smoking habits. My grandfather has been smoking steadily since about the age of 14. He smokes one to two packs a day. Smoking has become part of his daily routine. After rising in the morning, he has a cup of coffee, a piece of toast and a cigarette. Everywhere he goes he has his cigarettes with him. When drinking alcohol the number of cigarettes consumed increases. Basically he knows the health risks associated with smoking, but feels that he has been doing it too long, the damage is already done, and does not wish to attempt to quit. My grandfather stated that smoking during a stressful situation does help him alleviate some anxiety. It kind of calms the situation, helps him to relax, and think of a solution. He does not feel that his mood is greatly affected by cigarettes. He also does not feel that it has a great impact on his personality or sociability. I would argue that my grandfather’s beliefs are not necessarily accurate partially because he is a bit biased. I have been surrounded by a lot of smoker’s throughout my life. I have clearly seen the effects that the lack of a cigarette can have on a persons mood. A smoker is not very likely to admit that they become irritable when they need a cigarette. I think it is hard for people to own up to the scope of their dependence on an outside substance. My grandfather did not appear to be consistent with the article. He did not feel that cigarettes were a cause of stress in his life. I tend to disagree. An example would be traveling on an airplane. This seems to be a big issue for many smokers. The mere thought of it seems to stress them out. After a four hour plane ride, their mood and stress level have definitely been affected, and they are dying for a cigarette. I am not sure that smoking is a direct cause of stress, but I feel that in some situations it may add to a persons stress, and cigarettes definitely have an impact on a persons mood.

Thanks,
Andi

Friday, February 25, 2005

Some further thoughts on the biology of cigarette smoking

Cigarettes contain over 4,000 chemicals, 43 of which are known carcinogens. These carcinogens can have biological impacts that smokers need to be aware of. The first carcinogen that I am going to discuss is benzene. Benzene is used as a solvent for fuel and is contained in cigarette smoke. Benzene induces the synthesis and catabolism of monoamine neurotransmitters. When benzene is metabolized, it becomes toxic.
Benzene is metabolized in the liver, as well as bone marrow. It decreases red-blood cells and lymphocyte numbers. Exposure to benzene vapors depletes bone marrow as well as other problems. It can have long term effects on the central nervous system as well as peripheral nerve damage. Inhalation of high concentrations of benzene vapor can be fatal to humans. Benzene can also produce developmental effects in offspring (http://rais.ornl.gov/tox/profiles/benzen_c.shtml).

Formaldehyde is another carcinogen in cigarettes that has important biological effects. Formaldehyde seems to impact the central nervous system. According to an article on the Neurotoxicity of formaldehyde, Humans exposed to formaldehyde complain of headaches, dizziness, irritability, memory problems, and difficulty with sleep. The mechanism for the neurotoxicity of formaldehyde has not yet been identified. Formaldehyde has been shown to cross link proteins, DNA, and unsaturated fatty acids (http://www.whis.nzl.org/snftaas/pt15.html).

Other carcinogens such as ammonia, acetone, tar, etc.., are also contained in cigarette smoke. All the effects of these carcinogens are still not known, but there is sufficient evidence to suggest that these chemicals cause long lasting biological impacts. It is important for us to understand what we are doing to our bodies.

Thanks,
Andi

Friday, February 11, 2005

Culture of Smoke

Present day culture shares many similarities and differences to that of cultures from the 16th and 17th centuries. One striking similarity appears to be that when tobacco was first introduced, it was not necessarily seen as a good thing by the general population. In today’s society, due to increased information about the health risks associated with smoking, the general attitude toward smoking is not as positive as it was in previous generations. This by no means negates the fact that smoking is a serious issue of concern for present day society, but the culture as a whole appears to be more open minded and understanding of the downfalls of it.

One interesting difference between the cultures on the 16th and 17th century is that during these times, the stereotypes associated with smoking were very rugged and manly. Smoking was sometimes viewed as fashionable as well. In present day society, the rates of smoking are on the decline, accept for among women. This is a big shift from earlier cultures. Smoking is no longer stereotyped as a manly activity, and unfortunately many women are beginning the dangerous habit of smoking.

Another interesting difference pertains to the fanciful images smoking came to represent in the 16th and 17th centuries. Smoking during this time was used symbolically to represent many magical experiences as well as the brevity of life. Ironically smoking has so many harmful effects that it really does shorten ones life. In today’s society, we no longer associate smoking with such fanciful ideas. Smoking is a more everyday activity, which is a common practice for some, and more representative of life’s daily struggles.

It is interesting to see how our concepts of smoking have changed and remained the same over time. Some of the changes are quite profound, yet it is extremely remarkable how some things have remained relatively constant throughout time.

Thanks,
Andi

Friday, January 28, 2005

Cures and Critical Thinking

This blog is an attempt to take a more critical look at a site that claims to be a cure for smoking addiction. If you just absorb the knowledge at face value, it would be easy to assume that the information provided is true and useful. A deeper look may point out several flaws in the argument.

The site I am focusing on was entitled, “The 5 Minute Cure for Smoking Addiction.” The site can be found at: http://homepage.mac.com/forever.net/5minutecure/5mincure.html

The site claims that giving up a nicotine addiction is actually quite simple. First, you wait until you desire a cigarette. Next, you take a deep breath and let your desire become very strong. The more your anxiety increases, the more you are supposed to allow your desire for the cigarette to increase. After doing this exercise soon your desire and anxiety are supposed to disappear. The website claims that if you continue this practice every time you desire a cigarette you will be able to end your nicotine addiction.

The claims of this site appear to violate several rules necessary for critical thinking. The first thing that stood out in my mind was comprehensiveness. The claim made was not supported by any evidence at all except for a personal testimonial by the creator of the site. There really was no evidence in support or against the claims. This leads me to my next point, that the claim was also lacking sufficiency. The author of the article did not attempt to provide proof for his claim. Not only that, but the claim he was making was such a huge stretch to believe in the first place, and when you combine that with also not providing any evidence, it makes the argument lose all validity. The last point that I would like to make is that the claim lacked replicability. I would definitely argue the point that the claims made by the site could be largely coincidental, and no further experimentation has been conducted in order to find out. This particular site may have possibly violated all the laws of scientific thinking, and therefore its claims appear to be worthless.

Thanks,

Andi