While now the jig is up for the tobacco industry, introducing the concept of “doubt” gave them enough time to secure billions of addicted customers. Documents now prove they knew tobacco caused cancer in the 1950s; in 1960 they realized it caused heart disease and was addictive. Fearful of their findings, they hired a public relations specialist in 1953 who suggested they cast doubt. The hired “independent” pseudo- scientists kept the doubt machine churning. After 50 years of production, in 2012 a Federal judge ruled they lied. Now the four major tobacco companies are paying over 200 billion in settlements, yet they are still spreading misinformation about the dangers of second-hand smoke. The 2006 Surgeon General’s Report clearly states exposure to second-hand smoke causes premature death and disease of non-smokers and no ventilation system eliminates that risk. Fortunately, there is a strong national trend toward restaurants, bars and work sites going smoke-free state-wide; many municipalities in Missouri have smoke-free ordinances. Unfortunately the town where I live, Boonville, lags behind putting our workers, visitors and citizens at risk.
To live is to progress – lucky for us. I think back to the days when I was a poor college student. While I initially worked in the dorm cafeteria on kitchen duty, I chose to better my situation – after all, I was the recipient of several High School typing awards. I was soon hired by the Steno Pool and assigned to various work settings all over campus. Growing up in the country unexposed to smoke, I was in for a rude awakening. Working in an office in the seventies meant exposure to smoke – Lots of it. Everywhere I worked – Jesse Hall, the University Hospital, Engineering School, and University Press – smoke abounded! I was constantly inhaling smoke. And as for my clothes and hair at the end of the day, they were disgusting! Always a hard worker, I stayed focused on my work as my co-workers and/or supervisor took frequent smoke breaks, unfortunately in the same room. Always healthy as a child, I soon experienced my first cluster headaches, then migraines, thus began my history of frequent headaches. Given clerical wages were much higher than kitchen wages, money I sorely needed, I quietly stuck it out as it appeared this was business as usual.