Up in smoke

The Jerusalem Post - - COMMENT & FEATURES -

Re­gard­ing Reu­ven Ham­mer’s ar­ti­cle, “To­bacco ad ban a rare leg­isla­tive ac­com­plish­ment” (Jan­uary 6), I am a pul­monary physi­cian who worked both in Is­rael and the US un­til re­tire­ment. In spite of my pro­fes­sion and spe­cialty, I was a pack-a-day smoker for over 20 years, un­til I quit many years ago with the help of “Smo­k­enders.” I paid my penalty by need­ing coro­nary artery by­pass grafts. Luck­ily, the re­sults have been ex­cel­lent.

Not ev­ery smoker is as lucky. Over the years, I have seen the suf­fer­ing of lots of smok­ers, with COPD (chronic ob­struc­tive pul­monary dis­ease: chronic bron­chi­tis and em­phy­sema and lung can­cer) and suf­fered with them, try­ing to al­le­vi­ate their con­di­tion, some­times suc­cess­fully, more of­ten than not with­out suc­cess. I was deeply in­volved with quit-smok­ing pro­grams, mainly in the con­text of Mac­cabi Health Ser­vices. There, too, there was a sig­nif­i­cant (but far from enough) per­cent­age of quit­ters. Some of them re­main in touch with me un­til to­day.

Then the to­bacco com­pa­nies de­vel­oped their “cig­a­rette sub­sti­tutes” (elec­tronic cig­a­rettes), claim­ing they are safer and non-ad­dic­tive. As with other forms of to­bacco, they ad­ver­tise them widely and at­trac­tively. I was dumb­founded to see sev­eral large at­trac­tive ads in The Jerusalem Post. At the bot­tom, much less ob­vi­ous, there was a small dis­claimer warn­ing that to­bacco can be dan­ger­ous to health).

I con­sider this a war with all of us – physi­cians, med­i­cal staff and vol­un­teers – who try to as­sist smok­ers to quit and pre­vent younger peo­ple from be­com­ing new smok­ers of any kind of to­bacco de­vice, in­clud­ing elec­tronic. I am a Post reader of many years and have great re­spect for it and its con­tents, but upon see­ing these ad­ver­tise­ments, I con­sid­ered can­cel­ing my sub­scrip­tion. I hope that Mr. Ham­mer’s ar­ti­cle, as well as this let­ter – and hope­fully other read­ers’ in­put – will en­cour­age the man­age­ment of the Post and other me­dia out­lets to an­nounce that they will not carry any more ad­ver­tis­ing or pro­mo­tion of this dis­ease- and death-caus­ing prac­tice.

DR. ERNESTO BONDAREVSKY

Hod Hasharon

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