“Patch In” columnist Heather Borden Herve draws parallels between the public awareness campaign about dangers of smoking and the concurrent push for tougher gun legislation — and suggests what you can do to help.
Remember when everybody smoked?
Think about the imagery associated with smoking, making it cool, as admirable and desirable as the rugged American cowboy.
According to an op-ed published in The New York Times, the rates of Americans who smoke have dropped dramatically since the 1960s — less than 20 percent of American adults smoke now, and it was more than twice as much fifty years ago. What’s more, the rate amongst younger smokers aged 18-24 is on the decline as well.
A lot of that happened because of aggressive marketing and awareness campaigns about the dangers of smoking cigarettes, both to smokers and victims of second-hand, “passive” smoke. There are now graphic warnings on cigarette packages; who can forget the advocacy ad campaigns picturing bodies lying on the New York City streets outside of tobacco company headquarters, representing the hundreds of thousands of people who died each year from smoking?
These efforts helped tremendously when cigarette manufacturers had to admit to Congress their efforts to conceal the dangers of the products they manufacture.
Know what else helped? Legislators heard from their constituents, and that made them feel brave enough to stand up to lobbyists and campaign donations from the big money tobacco industry.
Now if we can only get similar campaigns to hit hard at the gun lobby and gun industry. For it’s clear that the parallels run deep — the gun industry trades on making billions of dollars at the expense of 30,000 people who die each year due to gun violence, including eight children in the U.S. every day.