I recently got the article “Smoke, Lies and the Nanny State” when surfing the internet. It’s an interesting essay by Joe Jackson (yes, that Joe Jackson, the singer) about the anti-smoking lobby and perhaps, more importantly, a poignant critique of what that industry is doing. He brings up some excellent points. The reality is that at some point you will die. And given the fact that our lives are far longer than they have been in the past, we are more likely to run into a variety of diseases along the way that were never known about. Additionally, our societal environment adds so much more that we cannot sit there and say “A-HA! This is the cause of the death” (with exception to violent deaths from guns, knives, etc. They’re kinda obvious). What has become apparent, at least to me, is that moderation of all things in life, with few exceptions (sex is still something that I don’t think is bad if done, willingly solo or with others, in excess), leads to a healthier life. And I think we under-estimate the power of the mind.
Our own happiness and sense of well being is probably the biggest indicator as to how long we will live. We will face many hardships in life and if we let ourselves become overwhelmed it’s very likely we’ll lose the battle. As I’ve said, I was never a smoker until this year. From year 0-18 I was a secondhand smoker and lived in Ottawa. I never had any breathing problems or issues. It wasn’t until I moved to Toronto, which has a far higher smog content, that I developed “Adult Asthma”. It was, in fact, the direct result of lack of exercise and, more than likely, overall smog. My body wasn’t used to it and was responding. I have a feeling that lack of exercise, due to my IT career (most geeks spend most of their time in front of a computer and rather lazily doing so), is more likely to get me than my smoking or eating habits (as a vegan, I eat pretty healthy at this point). But as I said, it is about moderation. My step father died at the age of 45 or so. He looked like he was 80 (in one of the last pictures I have of him). I know for a fact that his diet was heavy on fried, fatty foods with little to no exercise. It wasn’t the smoking that did him in but the other factors in his life: diet, lack of exercise and unhappiness (he was alone and pretty much had few friends).
And there is probably that old gene thing. George Burns lived to a nearly triple digit age and yet, smoked 10-15 cigars a day (chain-cigar smoker). That says to me that he was probably very active, had a decent diet and more than likely, was very happy. Although Gracie passed before he did, his constant talking of her and his obvious love for her probably kept him going for a long time. And perhaps his genes helped him. Look around you and at those in your family. If most live long lives and yet, were smokers or lived in smoking environments, it’ll likely be other factors that will “get you”. I don’t think we have the tools or the mental capacity at this point to prove that a specific factor will “get us” but I do believe that a combination of things opens up the door for things to happen. That said, I dunno if I’d want to live to be 120. My family has a long history of living long (80-90 at least and not unusual to hit the mid-90s). As my life changes and I change along with it, I see my life becoming happier and happier. And I suspect, longer and longer (as long as I can get more exercise in, I’m sure). So I leave you the link to the PDF file — you can download it from here Smoke, Lies and the Nanny State — and encourage you to talk about it and pass it on. I’m also curious to hear what others think. Are we really those monsters?