Marijuana vs. Cigarettes
I am most likely one of the very few who actually believed that former president Bill Clinton was telling the truth when he said that he had tried smoking marijuana but he didn't inhale because he wasn't a cigarette smoker and didn't really know how to inhale. That's exactly what happened with me, a non-cigarette-smoker, the first time I tried smoking pot, but of course I persisted until I got it right.
I've been a pot smoker for at least 35 years, but recently I stopped for a month, just as a change of pace, and I had no withdrawal symptoms. I was simply aware at first of all the times I felt tempted, out of habit, whether it would occur before I ate, before I went to a movie, before making love, before listening to music, or before rolling a joint.
On the other hand, according to Dr. James West, outpatient medical director at the Betty Ford Center, "Smoking cigarettes is probably the most difficult addiction to break. Most recovering alcoholics who quit smoking will say that it was harder to quit smoking than to quit alcohol. About 70% of alcohol-dependent individuals are heavy smokers--more than one pack of cigarettes per day--compared with 10% of the population. Alcoholics eventually die from lung cancer more often than from alcohol-related causes."
Nearly 2,000 young people under the age of 18 become smokers every day in America. And yet, although the World Health Organization (WHO) spent three years working out an agreement with 171 countries to prevent the spread of smoking-related diseases, particularly in the developing world, the United States opposed the treaty, including the minimum age of 18 for sales to minors. Around the globe, tobacco now kills almost five million people a year. Within a generation, predicts WHO, the premature death toll will reach ten million a year.
Whereas, with marijuana, despite all the anti-pot propaganda, the worst that can happen is maybe you'll have a severe case of the munchies.
Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman writes, "Americans are fighting tobacco addiction at home while our government is supporting it abroad. In fact, the administration thinks tobacco companies should be allowed to market overseas in ways that are prohibited here--with everything from free samples to sponsorship of youth events. When it comes to tobacco, we are standing outside the world community like a nicotine junkie on a city sidewalk, huffing and puffing away."
In October 2003, Health Canada released the results of a study which found that more teenagers smoke pot than cigarettes. Fifty-four per cent of 15- to 19-year-olds said they had smoked marijuana more than once. Conversely, cigarette smoking has continued to decline among Canadian youths, with the latest national figures showing that only 22% of teens smoke regularly.
In the United States, on December 20, 2003, Associated Press reported on an annual survey known as Monitoring the Future (funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse), which tracked drug use and attitudes among 48,500 students from 392 schools. The study concluded that marijuana remains by far the most widely used illegal drug. It has been tried at least once by 46% of 12th graders and used by more than a third in the past year.
John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, stated at a new conference that surveys in 15 cities have found that more teens smoke marijuana than regular cigarettes. However, the drug czar added, "More kids are seeking treatment for marijuana dependency than all other drugs combined." He neglected to mention how many of them seek such treatment as their only option to prison time.
Interestingly enough, though, for those who are truly dedicated tobacco addicts, there is a porn Web site featuring Smokin' Hot Sluts--"the largest archive of gorgeous girls who love to smoke before, during and after sex." Internet seekers are invited to "Tell our live babes your deepest, nastiest smoking fantasies, and they'll fulfill your dreams."
But what are the smoking fantasies that site offers? "Fuck my smoldering hot ass!" "Lesbian smoke orgies!" "Slide your filter tip deep inside me!" And, as if intended specifically for Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, "Inhale and swallow!"
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Paul Krassner is the author of Murder At the Conspiracy Convention and Other American Absurdities. Check out George Carlin's introduction at http://www.paulkrassner.com.
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