[Marxism] A choice awaits: Tobacco or health

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Jun 1 08:49:20 MDT 2004

Yesterday was world anti-smoking day. The following
article appeared in the daily Granma and Ana Portela
translated it for CubaNews.

Because tobacco products are such a vital part of
the Cuban political economy, as well as it playing
such a central role in the island's culture, it's
often forgotten that public education in Cuba has
turned actively opposed to smoking. Having been a
former smoker myself, who struggled for many years
to kick the demonic habit, I know it isn't easy to
quit. Eventually I succeeded in doing so with the
help of a single acupuncture treatment which I had
on June ll, 1981. In Cuba smoking seems to be on a
declining path, though I don't think it's become as
socially and culturally unacceptable as it is in 
Europe and the United States. The Cuban government
is using an educational method, rather than the 
passing of lots of new laws as is done in the US.

Time will tell if this approach is successful on
the island. Let's hope that it is! With all of the
difficult challenges Cuba faces, the government 
doesn't go out of its way to make life even more
difficult than it already is, what with the wave
of price increased which they've recently imposes.

As is well-known, Fidel Castro, an influential
political leader, demonstratively gave up his
famous cigar-smoking practice nearly 20 years ago.

On May 26, 2003, while speaking before thousands
of people in a chilly outdoor meeting in Argentina,
Fidel Castro made these observations: "As for us, 
we have historically been tobacco producers, and 
this is something we cannot give up, much less 
while we are subjected to the blockade, and yet 
when we give a friend a box of cigars as a gift, 
we say, "If you smoke, you can smoke them; if you 
have any friends who smoke, you can share them; 
but the best thing you can do with this box of 
cigars is to give them to your enemy.(Applause)
Cuba is a producer and exporter of tobacco, and 
[yet Cuba] is waging an anti-smoking campaign"

Walter Lippmann, Moderator, CubaNews list

May 31, 2004

May 31, a choice awaits: Tobacco or health

Smoking I wait . the death that I want

Smoking causes 90 percent of lung cancer and 25 of
cardiovascular diseases; it causes more death than AIDS,
alcoholism and drugs, all together.

By Iris Armas Padrino
AIN Special service

Smoking has become a world epidemic with enormous
dimensions if you consider that every eight seconds there
is a death due to smoking. According to estimates, in the
coming 25 years 100 million will die due to that cause.

Smoking causes 90 percent of lung cancer and 25 of
cardiovascular diseases; it causes more death than AIDS,
alcoholism and drugs, all together.

Cigarettes have 4 000 toxic substances, 40 are carcinogens
and affects not only the active smokers but also the
passive smokers who receive the smoke directly or

These statistics stimulate a reflection this May 31, World
Day without Smoking, a special date where Cuba arrives with
positive results in the National Program of Prevention and
Control of Smoking with 242 units set up for detoxification
of the harmful habit.

For this purpose the departments of Natural and Traditional
Medicine, the Community Mental Health Centers and the
Confidential Anti-drug Telephone link are prepared to offer
help to those who want to get rid of the habit.

Surveys have revealed that 60 percent of the smoking
addicts want to give it up, 40 percent do so with
professional help and only three percent are able to give
up the habit on their own.

"Leave it and win" is the slogan of the international
contest to stimulate giving up smoking, sponsored by the
World Health Organization and the National Institute of
Public Health of Finland.

This initiative was tested for the first time at a regional
level in 1985 in Finland and the following year the first
national contest was held in that country.

The first international campaign was in 1994 with the
participation of 60 000 persons and in 2002, 700 000
smokers took part. Expectations this year are to reach one
million persons.

Cuba participated for the first time in 1998 and in 2001 a
resident from Pinar del Rio won the international prize,
although this Cuban province is the greatest tobacco
growing region in the country and one of the best

More than 1 100 million persons smoke in the planet and
this habit is related to 33 percent cancer patients, the
second cause of death, preceded by cardiovascular diseases.

Specialists affirm that rejection of this habit offers
incalculable winnings because health improved immediately,
the danger of a heart attack is reduced considerably in the
first two years and later, the risk of cancer is reduced,
among other advantages.

To quit smoking is a sensible choice if you consider that
11 minutes of life are lost with every cigarette.

There is a choice: tobacco or health.


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