Rokers in de VS worden steeds proactiever in het (hinderlijk) volgen van de antirokenbeweging. Een rookster uit Illinois schreef zich in voor een anti-rokencongres en tekende haar ervaringen op.
Een van haar bijzondere ervaringen was te merken dat men zich in die kringen helemaal niet realiseert wat men de rokers aandoet. Over de rokers zelf werd alleen in termen van statistieken gesproken.
A Spy’s Report From The Anti Camp
2005 National Conference on Tobacco and Health
The National Conference on Tobacco and Health, held in downtown Chicago last week (May 4th through the 6th), produced a historic and very unusual experience for many Chicagoans. The Sheraton Chicago and Hyatt Regency Chicago hotels, which hosted this convention, became entirely non-smoking for three days with no warning. The only exceptions were their smoking guest rooms.
The purpose of this National Conference was “…To help improve and sustain the effectiveness and reach of tobacco control programs and activities in the United States.” For a registration fee of $575 per attendee, approximately 3200 people from all parts of our country gathered to attend educational sessions and forums, refine anti-smoking strategies and network.
All attendees were given an introductory package upon registration and also received a bound program for all the educational sessions, workshops and receptions, including the identities of the speakers and their affiliations. Following the written greeting from the Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health, Corinne Husten, MD, MPH, the Welcome page contained a “Special Request”. All conference goers were asked to refrain from “wearing scented aftershave, perfume, hairspray, lotions, etc… Individuals with respiratory problems have trouble breathing in the presence of fragrances.”
Now, with that preface out of the way, I need to explain my involvement in this gala event. I am a pro-active smoker who wanted to see what our anti-smoking antagonists are really doing and what they are like. I arrived feeling fresh, wearing skin lotion, Shalimar, hairspray and wondering where I would have my next cigarette. However, I was also one of the non-smoking attendees. Everyone was very pleasant, and I never once caught the slightest expression from anyone that I was suspected of being from the enemy camp! Had anyone even asked me, I would have told him or her the truth.
So much for smokers reeking of tobacco! While orienting myself with the Sheraton and checking in, I learned the 2005 theme was “Turning Point: Challenges and Opportunities in Tobacco Control in the Next Decade”. Oh boy! There were sessions everywhere, and everyone there seemed to know everyone else. It was very similar to the pro-freedom of choice activist network, except there were so many of them and they were all people who hated smoking!
I was surrounded by sponsors and representatives of the American Cancer Society, American Legacy Foundation, CDC Office on Smoking and Health, National Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, American Heart Association, National Institute on Drug Abuse, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Glaxo Smith Kline…..and that was only the beginning. I knew the next day I would have to visit the exhibit hall at the Hyatt, where all the major sponsors had displays. I made a complete tour of the display booths and collected an unbelievable quantity of training materials and literature by the time I finished.
One product that caused a great stir among attendees was called TobacAlert, by Nymox Corp. This innovative product is a home test kit for measuring cotinine levels in smokers and used in a similar fashion to a Ketostix or home pregnancy test. Use is suggested by “parents, smokers trying to quit, coaches, insurance companies and smoking cessation counselors”. It would seem Big Brother is really out to get smokers!
It was no accident that Chicago was chosen for the gathering, rather than a smoke banned city. The Harvard School of Public Health and Roswell Park Cancer Research Institute organized a training session on how to measure respirable suspended particles (RSP) using the TSI Side Pac Aerosol Monitor. Six teams were formed and each was expected to visit six Chicago restaurants/bars that allowed smoking on Wednesday and Thursday evenings to measure the RSPs. The monitor is small and was placed in a purse or back pack, with only the nozzle exposed. These measurements were then compared to Sheraton lobby and outdoor air readings. At the Closing Plenary, the results were read by Stanley M. Rosenblatt, JD who declared readings in the smoking establishments were six times higher than elsewhere. Each of the trainees was loaned one of monitors to take home with them to help spread smoking bans in their own communities.
Generally speaking, the anti-smoking advocates are very concerned about reduced funding and do not expect the RICO suit to produce any more money from big tobacco. Tobacco Free Kids is even holding a charity auction on E-bay! They believe their strengths to be in creating youth activists, networking, quit lines and remaining relentless. Even the Mayo Clinic has quit lines in five states.
The hatred expressed is for Big Tobacco. Anyone who opposes the total eradication of tobacco usage is considered a front for big tobacco or insignificant. The individual smoker is really not even given any consideration, other than as a statistic to be overcome by bans and taxes…excuse me, the correct term the health educators prefer to substitute is INTERVENTION. Many of the people I spoke with really believe that smoking bans do not hurt businesses. They are not disturbed by the social engineering of populations, and never have even considered that creating government ordinances and laws to control personal choice is dangerous.
While I had dinner, I encouraged the restaurant employees to tell me how non-convention patrons felt about their regular watering holes becoming “non-smoking” for this convention. As would be expected, many were angry, left and went elsewhere. One waitress had worked there for twelve years and said she had never seen the hotel go non-smoking before. At least, as of Saturday morning, both hotels went back to their regular policies.
So much for being a Secret Agent! Next year, the Conference on Tobacco and Health will be International and will meet during July in Washington, D.C. (at a cost of over $900 per attendee). Residents, be prepared!
An Illinois Resident (05-10-05)