Nix on Nicotine

Keywords: quit smoking, freedom from tobacco, anti-tobacco, smoking cessation, smoking deterrence, nicotine addiction

Friday, March 9, 2012

Right to Smoke?

Why do smokers profess that they have a "right to smoke?"  By what law of the land is such a right conferred?  Why do we, as a society, tolerate and even reinforce the mistaken belief that smokers are exercising a lawful individual right?

In our society, behaviors that negatively impact others are restricted or prohibited in the interest of a better, safer, more pleasant environment for all.  For example, in most places, it is unlawful for a dog owner to leave the animal's waste behind in public to be cleaned up by others.  Why is it not equally unlawful for a smoker to leave cigarette butts (non-biodegradable, omnipresent, and laden with toxic compounds, they are far worse than dog waste) behind in public to be cleaned up by others?

In our society, harmful air emissions are regulated or prohibited.  Why is it not unlawful for a smoker to pollute the airspace in public places such as beaches, parks, and city streets?

In our society, we do not tolerate public displays of lewdness, profanity, intoxication, or violence.  We purport to control access of children to harmful images and behaviors.  Why is it not unlawful for a smoker to model the behavior of smoking to children and youth in public places?  When will we tell the film industry to stop promoting smoking among children and youth by exhibiting that behavior in child-rated movies?

I contend that smokers do not have a "right to smoke," at least not in public.  The lack of a prohibition against the action of smoking is not the same as a "right" to perform that action.  On the other hand, non-smokers have a right to enjoy public places that are not contaminated with tobacco packaging litter and discarded cigarette butts.  Non-smokers have a right to breath air that is unpolluted by cigarette smoke.  Non-smokers have a right to take our children to public places without exposing them to individuals who model anti-social and destructive behaviors.

It's time to wake up and get straight the rights and the responsibilities of being a member of our society.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Marketing Tobacco to Kids

I visited my local King Soopers grocery store recently, and paused to observe the tobacco display that I walk past every time I’m in the store.  The large, well-lit glass-front case extends from about 7 feet down to about 18 inches off the floor – placing the colorful cigarette packages at eye-level for any child old enough to walk.  But that’s not all!  Immediately adjacent to the tobacco case is a 25-cent gumball machine and the penny-per-ride “horsie.”  Could this be an accident or oversight on the part of management?

Feeling more than just a little curious, I asked the manager on duty about the display, pointing out the eye-level placement of the tobacco and the nearby child-magnets.  He smiled pleasantly and nodded as I spoke, but offered no suggestion that things could or would be changed. 

Tobacco companies rely on community retail partners to help them sell tobacco to children.  They know that almost no one starts smoking as an adult:  more than 90% of smokers become addicted before the age of 18, some starting as early as 8 years old.  Getting children hooked on nicotine is key to big tobacco’s ongoing profitability.

Here are just a few of the underhanded strategies they use:
  • Offering smokeless tobacco products (“dip” or “chew”) in self-serve displays near candy, gum, and snacks; these products are offered in enticing fruit, mint, and other flavors that appeal to children.
  • Displaying tobacco products within easy reach of children, and reimbursing store owners for losses due to shoplifting.
  • Placing signs at kid eye-level with cartoon-drawings, purportedly to forbid underage tobacco use, but actually to enhance the perception that tobacco is “grown up” and underage use is rebellious or defiant. 
  • Offering toys (again placed at kid eye-level) as premiums with tobacco purchases to cause kids to “lobby” their parents into buying the tobacco product so that they get the toy.
  • Displaying tobacco in movies and television programs, particularly in PG-13 movies, of which more than 80% show tobacco use.
Recently revealed in documents produced by Big Tobacco under Court order is the euphemism they use for the 12 to 18-year age group:  “Replacement Smokers.”

Sunday, April 17, 2011

We Have a Winner!

I am delighted to announce the winning artwork for the NIX ON NICOTINE campaign logo!  Combining the efforts of two talented artists who have graciously agreed to share the contest prize, our new campaign image is both graphic and compelling.  The artwork by Denver artists Matt Jaramillo and John Keller captures our message and we'll be proud to display it everywhere.  Heartfelt thanks to the artists, to our sponsors, and to all of our supporters.

Press release to follow....

Monday, April 4, 2011

Informed and Aware

My partner on the in-school freedom from tobacco campaign is PS1 Charter School here in Denver.  My sons, Quentin (who died at age 23 from tobacco-related illness) and Monty (who has now kicked the habit)  attended PS1 for their middle and high school years.

The PS1 vision statement for its students includes a goal of being "informed and aware."  I think this is an excellent goal for everyone, especially with respect to substances we put into our bodies.  I believe that if smokers become informed and aware of the content of cigarettes, they will find greater motivation to quit the habit.

So take a look at just a few of the chemical compounds found in cigarette smoke, and alternative uses for those chemicals.

     acetone - nail polish solvent
     methanol - highly flammable/explosive alcohol, used in rocket fuel
     napthalene - moth repellent
     nicotine - herbicide and insecticide
    cadmium - heavy metal used in batteries
     carbon monoxide - the lethal component of automobile exhaust fumes
     vinyl chloride - plastic
    cyanhydric acid - used in gas chambers
    ammonia - detergent
    urethane - floor finish
    toluene - industrial solvent
    arsenic - lethal poison, rodenticide
    polonium 210 - radioactive compound used recently to murder a Soviet spy
    DDT - insecticide

Now, let me ask this.  Would you knowingly and willingly swallow, inhale, or otherwise ingest any one of the above chemicals day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year?  Would you administer any one of them to a trusting child?  Smoking delivers at least 81 different toxic chemicals to your body and to people around you.  Quit today for your health.  Quit today for a child.  Quit today for someone who loves you.  Quit today!

Friday, April 1, 2011


No fooling around!  Just one more week to deadline for the art contest, and your chance to win the $250 CASH PRIZE!  I'll be distributing more contest announcements throughout Denver art galleries tonight, where a big turnout is expected for the First Friday gallery open-house night. 

The winner of the logo contest will not only win the cash prize, but will also be invited to sit on the judging panel for NEXT MONTH'S POSTER CONTEST, to be announced soon after the logo art winner is selected.  Don't miss your chance!  If you need an entry form, call me at 303-964-9129 or email me at

I am also very pleased to announce that my good friend and co-worker, Darrin Ray has KICKED THE SMOKING HABIT!  Keep up the good work, Darrin - you CAN and you WILL do it!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Preview of Coming Attractions!

We're down to the last 2 weeks of the ART CONTEST to win a $250 CASH PRIZE for design of the NIX ON NICOTINE campaign logo, and the judging panel is eagerly looking forward to some terrific entries!

With that deadline approaching, we're already looking ahead to the next big thing:  Each month, we will sponsor a new art contest to use the NIX ON NICOTINE logo in a poster that delivers a freedom-from-tobacco message.  New prizes will be  announced each month, and will include gift certificates from some of your favorite local businesses.  The winning poster will be pinned up in schools, government offices, and lots of other public places around town, and will be published on-line.  But that's not all!!!  Each month, the selected poster artist wins a seat on the judging panel for the next month's contest, to sit side-by-side with a celebrity from the music industry, sports world, or government.  We are very excited to be working with some really well-known personalities who have agreed to help us promote this program.  Imagine getting the chance to meet someone you've always admired!

The time has never been better to choose a tobacco-free lifestyle!  Just think of all the advantages:  you'll save money, you'll be more attractive, your body will feel and stay strong and healthy, and you will be a positive role-model for all of the young people in your life!  And if you submit an entry to our poster contest, you may win the chance to meet a real-life celebrity!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sad Numbers

As of this morning, the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan stands at just under 6,000 people, and continues to rise; some sources estimate it will reach as many as 100,000 people.   People everywhere have been galvanized to offer help to try to alleviate the misery and suffering. And rightly so – we are all passengers on this planet together, and the borders that divide us are immaterial in the face of such a crisis.

Nevertheless, I offer the following comparisons.

Number of dead in Japan in 7 days:     6,000 people
Number of dead in US due to tobacco-related illness every 7 days:  8,400 people
Estimated number of dead in Japan by the end of the crisis:  100,000 people
Estimated number of dead world-wide this year alone due to tobacco-related illness:
over 5,000,000 people

The suffering in Japan as a result of this calamitous event is great, but it will pass.
The suffering of millions of people and their families due to tobacco-related illness and early death is incalculable, and extends into the foreseeable future.

Tobacco-caused disease is the single-largest preventable cause of death.  It kills more people than alcohol, drugs, AIDS, car accidents, murders, and suicides combined, nearly 1,200 people in the United States every single day! 

Isn’t it time that YOU quit smoking?!?  Get information and help at:
Next week, Wednesday March 23 is “Kick Butts” day, the perfect day to