Up in smoke
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