A Letter to My Kids About Smoking Tobacco

Hi kids,

I ran across an article by famous Stanford psychology professor Dr. Albert Bandura about the ways people avoid taking responsibility for what humanity is doing to the planet.  Those ways have been analyzed before around why we permit and use tobacco when it is so bad for us.  I took the following from Dr. Bandura’s paper where he talks about “moral disengagement”.  Please read it thoroughly and please stop smoking tobacco.——–<begin excerpt from Dr. Bandura’s paper>—————————
Consider, by way of example, the enormous environmental resources, human investment, and industrial production activities it takes to grow, manufacture, transport, and market tobacco products that take the lives of over 400,000 people annually in the USA. Moreover, tobacco products account for a sizable share of the soaring health costs in societies requiring a lot of economic activity to fund. High smoking rates worldwide will usher in a global cancer epidemic. Promotion of this deadly product depends heavily on a vast network of otherwise considerate people engaged in a bewildering array of occupational pursuits. It includes (outline structure added by me):
– Agriculturalists defending their livelihood.
– Tobacco executives disputing that nicotine is addictive and that smoking is a major contributor to lung cancer.
– Chemists discovering ammonia as a means to increase the nicotine ‘kick’ by speeding the body’s absorption of nicotine.
– Biotech researchers genetically engineering a tobacco seed that doubles the addictive nicotine content of tobacco plants.
– Movie actors agreeing to smoke in their movies for a hefty fee.
– Funded scientists disputing evidence of harmful effects, and even historians sanitising the history of the tobacco industry.
– Advertisers targeting youth with merchandising and advertising schemes depicting smoking as a sign of youthful hipness, modernity, freedom and women’s liberation.
– Investors and shareholders seeking profits from this deadly product.
– Lawyers fending off liability suits against the tobacco industry.
– Legislators with bountiful campaign contributions not only exempting nicotine from the drug legislation even though it is the most addictive substance, but passing pre-emption laws that block States from regulating tobacco products and their advertising.
– Department of Agriculture essentially banning low-nicotine tobacco by making farmers ineligible for government price supports if they grow low-nicotine varieties.
– President Carter firing his head of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare for refusing to back off on the regulation of tobacco products.
– Trade representatives threatening sanctions against countries that erect barriers against the importation of US cigarettes.
– Tobacco companies dumping huge quantities of cigarettes in the tiny Caribbean island, Aruba, that serves as the distribution point for drug lords who launder their narcotics money through control of cigarette sales in Latin America.
– US Government opposing a worldwide ban on cigarette advertising and sponsorship of entertainment and sports events even with exemptions for countries with constitutional protection of such activities.

This is a remarkably vast array of environmental resources and talents recruited in the service of a deadly product that sickens and kills people when used as intended. It is an extraordinary feat of moral sanitization of a highly destructive product.

Analysis of the internal documents of the tobacco industry testifies to the extensive use of the various mechanisms of moral disengagement (White et al., 2007). By these exonerative means, employees of the tobacco industry see themselves as victimised defenders of human rights, fighting off zealous health posses, bent on depriving people of the pleasures of smoking. As shown in this example, moral disengagement is not just a matter of intrapsychic machinations operating at a subterranean level. It is rooted in a lot of social machinations by a huge cast of moral disengagers pursuing their livelihood in a diverse array of social systems. By diffusing responsibility through subdivision of the tobacco business, the contributors see themselves as decent legitimate practitioners of their trade rather than as parties to a deadly operation.
————<end of paper excerpt>————————
Smoking tobacco not only damages your health and can lead to your death, it puts money in the hands of people who will make the same thing happen to many others around the world, including organized crime and government agencies who cost us a lot of tax money but waste it on things that are not good for us.
Please read, think, and stop.  Please ask me if you have questions (but call me anyway).
– Dad/Tim


About timprosser

Background: 10 jobs and 5 careers in 6 industries, a lifetime student of organizational psychology and business culture, a lifetime musician, ham radio operator for over 30 years, Education: BS in Geography from Eastern Michigan University, MBA from The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, self-taught electrical/computer engineer
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