Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Feature: Clearing the Air with Great Kid's Books and the Cigarette Display Ban

Clearing the Air
by Brynn Smith-Raska
Editorial Assistant

You know that strange sensation you get when you recognize something is different, but you can’t put your finger on it right away? Like when your best friend gets a haircut, or when someone you haven't seen in a while no longer has her braces?

I had that very same curious experience recently when I went to the corner store to buy eggs. I walked in, the little bell above the door rang, and I immediately noticed that something was … different. As I walked up and down the aisles, picking up eggs and a loaf of bread and a newspaper, I racked my brain. They hadn't painted the walls or installed a new floor; the lighting hadn't changed, and the employees were the same married couple I'd seen nearly every day for the past thousand some-odd days. Then, when I was standing in line to pay, it hit me: “The cigarettes!” Where had the cigarettes gone? Normally, they are displayed behind the cash register, in plain sight of everyone who enters the store. Now, they were mysteriously absent.

When I arrived home, I opened the paper and learned the reason why I couldn't spot the cigarettes. A cigarette display ban enacted at the beginning of June now required d├ępanneurs, grocery stores, and gas stations to conceal cigarettes and tobacco products in an opaque case, out of the public’s view, in an effort to decrease the smoking population. By keeping the cigarettes out of sight, anti-smoking groups are hoping cigarettes will stay out of mind.... and out of the hands of impressionable children.

The government's proactive tactic is working to prevent kids and teens from picking up the habit and becoming addicted, and we all need to keep up the effort to keep kids from smoking in the first place. A positive way to get the message out that smoking stinks is by having kids deliver the message too, like they do in Let's Clear the Air: 10 Reasons Not to Start Smoking. This collection of stories and essays is written by real kids, a testament to the fact that kids care about issues surrounding smoking too.

In Let’s Clear the Air, over forty kids give their reasons not to ever start smoking in the first place. Some kids have lost parents to cigarettes and tobacco, and the sadness they felt over their loss has given them an important reason to never start smoking: cigarettes kill. Other kids realize that it’s a habit that turns teeth funny colors, taints fingers and nails a sickly shade, and even threatens the health of nonsmokers. As the kids astutely point out, smoking is bad for our environment and our planet too. Did you know that about 4.3 trillion cigarette butts are littered every year? That it can take up to 12 years for one cigarette butt to decompose? Let's Clear the Air offers tons of facts like this that you might not know about smoking, but that really lend convincing and stupendous support to the decision to never, ever take up smoking.

Cassidy Sauve, a 10-year-old contributor, received the Barb Tarbox Award of Excellence for her commitment to spreading the word about the dangers of smoking and Let’s Clear the Air reminds us that the power to choose is in the hands of kids. These kids recognize that tobacco companies use advertising to trick kids into thinking smoking is a cool thing to do. With the new laws enacted here in Quebec, and also in Ontario, the government is hoping that everyone will realize what the kids in Let's Clear the Air do: that smoking is a dangerous habit and there are ten good reasons to never start in the first place. Bravo to the governments of Quebec and Ontario for helping to clear the air!


Zaibatsu said...

i just caught my teenager son smoking the other days. I have to buy this book for him. Thanks for sharing. I am also thinking to buy him a electronic cigarette ( a blu cig ) and see if he can settle for that.

Karim said...

I think this smoking ban is great. the only thing is that there is now a smoke free electronic cigarette available on the market that shifts the whole equation.

rodrick said...

How can people quit smoking when there are disposable electronic cigarettes floating around?

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