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October 05, 2011 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2011-10-05

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4B Wednesday, Ocober5, 2011 // The Statement

Wednesday, October 2011 5B

S moking has become one of the
champion causes of the public
health sphere. And for good reason: It's
the number one preventable cause of death
and accounts for nearly $100 billion in
health care expenditures. Smokers have an
average lifespan of 13 to 14 years lower than

nonsmokers. The facts pile on.

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University's campus-wide University of Kentucky, University
g ban, a complement to the of Iowa and University of Maine, in
statewide smoking initiative addition to the University's own
nned cigarette and cigar use Medical School, have enacted
places and restaurants, took smoke-free initiatives on their cam-
n July 1 of this year. The ban puses prior to this summer.
smoking only on sidewalks Part of the smoking ban's goals
t to public roads on cam- have been "to help change the view
I in the privacy of one's own of tobacco and cigarettes, which
has been painted as just a normal
rtheless, disparities exist part of life by the cigarette industry
the ranks of cancer-causing for more than a century," said Cliff
According to a recent report Douglas, adjunct lecturer in the
I by the World Health Orga- School of Public Health and director
, tobacco, along with 106 of the University of Michigan Tobac-
hemicals and activities, has co Research Network.
assified as a Group 1 car- In other words: it's a norm shift.
, meaning that it has been The ban seeks to transform smoking
implicated as a causation of from a publicly accepted activity into
Though some of these agents something a little more taboo.
hly regulated under national "People who smoke feel badly
ds, like radon and mustard about it," said Prof. Ken Warner, the
ome of them are not, such as former dean of the School of Public
salted fish, the occupational Health and co-chair of the Smoke
as a painter and postmeno- Free University Steering Committee.
strogen therapy. "They want to hide it."
hat is it about smoking that Warner noted that to some extent,
it so insulting to society? the ban could be enacted because
akes tobacco so different, to the majority of University members
nt that it caused the Univer- did not smoke and looked upon the
pend more than $240,000 on habit in a negative light. Even those
the activity from campus? who did engage in the activity had
ity professors, officials and expressed a desire to quit.
s share their perspectives on In fact, without support from the
culture of health the Uni- community, Warner said a ban might
aims to promote through the have not been the best method to
Free Initiative. reduce tobacco use at the University.
"It's certainly more difficult
WHAT ISA BAN? where it's more common," he said.
"In a place where 50 percent of the
nwide efforts to curtail people smoke, and nobody sees it as
use have been steadily gain- a serious problem, and you adopt a
nentum over the past decade. policy like that arbitrarily, it prob-
niversity's smoking ban is ably would not succeed."
y not "a unique one, as -the Perhaps the most - surprising

aspect of this policy is that it is not
formally enforced. Besides a report
to the office of Student Conflict Res-
olution and a subsequent mediation
process, students can light up within
the vicinity of classroom buildings
and still escape relatively unscathed.
According to Chief Health Officer
Robert Winfield, there have been no
incidents brought to the Office of
Student Conflict Resolution since the
ban was implemented. Nevertheless,
it's evident that the ban has not been
100 percent effective. Many-students
still smoke on the Diag and Michigan
Union steps.
"One of the main things we're
hoping is that the policy will be
largely self-enforcing, that people
will respect it. And that if they don't
and someone observes them smok-
ing, that they will, in a very gentle
and friendly manner, point out that
there is a policy of no smoking on
campus," Warner said.
"And we expect people to comply."
When news of the ban reached
public ears in April 2009, it was
met with a considerable amount of
surprise. Many questioned why the
policy was enacted and what the
University's basis was for initiating
it. Representatives from the School
of Public Health turned to the ratio-
nale that the ban was instated "to
promote a culture of health."
"Smoking is the antithesis of
health," Warner said. "It's the single-
most unhealthy behavior that people
can engage in, that many people
engage in. The notion of establishing
an environment that is free of that is
a very pro-health message."
LSA senior Graham Kozak, presi-
dent of the University's chapter of
the College Libertarians, takes issue
with the term "culture of health." He
is concerned with its vagueness, and
the ways in which it could be abused.
For Kozak, secondhand smoke
mitigation might have been a more
justifiable means to back up such a
culture - in enclosed spaces, smoke
is dangerous to the people who do
not partake in the activity and could
be construed as a "negative external-
ity." But because the University did
not delineate the definition as such,
Kozak took issue with the term's
purposeful vagueness and the ways
in which it could be abused.
"What is this 'culture of health?'"
he asked. "It's not defined, specifical-
ly. Where do you draw the line? It's a

slippery slope. Once you start intro-
ducing that for your justification of
anything, there's really nothing you
can't do."
Women's Studies Associate Prof.
Anna Kirkland, co-author of the
book "Against Health: How Health
Became the New Morality," also crit-
icized this notion, drawing on ethics
for support. Though she acknowl-
edges smoking is a dangerous habit,
Kirkland believes the broader
definition of health is much more
complicated. In her book, health
is characterized as "a term replete
with value judgments, hierarchies
and blind assumptions that speak as
much about power and privilege as
they do about well-being."_
"Against Health" further
describes the way language has been
adapted to insinuate these judg-
"We realize this dichotomy every
time we see someone smoking a ciga-
rette and reflexively say, 'Smoking is
bad for your health,' when what we
really mean is, 'You are a bad person
because you smoke,' "Prof. Jonathan
Metzl, the other co-author of the
book, writes.
Kirkland said she understands
why a culture of health could be
construed as beneficial to addictive
behaviors: The stigmatization of
smoking could potentially be moti-
vating to smokers who want to quit
but need the extra push, in addition
to preventing young people from
beginning the habit.
But she also reasoned where such.
a stigmatization could go too far.
"What about if we decided to

based on anything other than their
personal distaste for smoking. I don't
think they're looking at it from' any-
thing other than their perspective of
'smoking is one of society's greatest
evils, and it needs to be stamped out
Kirkland cited Cornell Univer-
sity Prof. Richard Klein's chapter
in "Against Health" which supports
a new, more inclusive definition of
health that incorporates the seek-
ing of pleasure. Klein also wrote
the book "Cigarettes are Sublime"
in 1994 in an effort to explain the
seduction of cigarette smoking both
historically and sensually - depict-
ing the solidarity experienced when
out with peers on a lunch break and
the fiery romance associated with
the curlingtendril of a smoke ring.
"The public health moralism about
oh, how it's so bad, bad, bad - but if it
was so awful, and it were only awful,
then nobody would do it," Kirkland
said. "I've certainly felt jealous look-
ing at a smoker or looking at the
smokers all hanging out together
and enjoying their cigarettes - you
know, there's something; there that
they're enjoying that's good."
The University upholds a strong
commitment to expanding its knowl-
edge of the effects of tobacco. Nico-
tine, the most potent and addictive
chemical component of the drug,
acts on the nicotinic cholinergic
receptors of the adrenal gland and
the brain. In large doses, it can kill

morphine and marijuana use.
Compared to other substance
abuse studies, the field of nicotine
research is relatively new. The Uni-
versity formally created a venue
for the field when Ovide Pomerleau
and his wife Cynthia brought the
Nicotine Research Laboratory to the
Department of Psychiatry in 1985.
Thanks largely to Pomerleau's
work, nicotine studies have gar-
nered a significant amount of influ-
ence within the addictive substance
sphere upon gaining the interest of
public health officials and National
Institutes of Health.
Pomerleau's motives behind pur-
suing the field of nicotine research
are threefold - to help smokers dis-
cover ways to quit, to protect people
from getting nicotine dependence
and to better understand the human
brain as a whole.
"What we're talking about now
is a basic science question: How
does the brain work?" Pomerleau
explained. "Here's the brain, here's a
tool that you can manipulate, people
self-administer this drug ... and you
can understand what the different
effects are."
Pomerleau's lab recently discov-
ered a genetic component to nicotine
dependence. Though it has long been
known that addiction to nicotine
has an extremely high heritabil-
ity - that is, it can be passed down
by family members - researchers
once believed only a few genes were
responsible for it. Upon beginning
these studies, Pomerleau presumed
that once those genes could be iden-
tified, new methods for addiction
therapy could be developed.
However, this was not the case.
What previously had been assumed
to be only a few genes influencing
nicotine dependency turned out to
be a whole network of genes dis-
persed around the human genome
interacting with each other. Any sin-
gle gene identified could not account
for the entire story of addiction.
But most surprising is what
Pomerleau calls the "triple wham-
my:" in which people susceptible to
"liking" nicotine - finding a ciga-
rette more pleasurable than displea-
surable - were found to have genes
turned on that not only increased
their likelihood to become addict-
ed to nicotine, but also genes that
increased their susceptibility to lung
cancer. This hints that perhaps genes
pertaining to the act of smoking and
enjoying smoking could somehow
be implicated in the development of
See SMOKING, Page 80

"People who smoke feel badly about it ...
They want to hide it."
- Prof. Ken Warner

have a shaming campaign where
everybody that smokes has to wear
a T-shirt that says, 'I'm a disgusting
smoker?' " she asked. "Is that moti-
vating or are we just sort of indulging
in cruelty and stigmatizing people
who are part of our community?"
Kozak takes issue with the one-
dimensional perspective that propo-
nents of the smoking ban tend to take
toward the activity.
"They have their blinders very
firmly on," he said. "And I think they
will try to legitimize this any way
they can because they have some
very strong views not necessarily

almost immediately - but because
most cigarette companies keep their
nicotine content to doses less than 3
percent, its short-term toxicity is not
a huge concern for health officials.
Because these cholinergic recep-
tors are found all over the body, nico-
tine has been implicated in a host
of effects ranging from premature
aging, to increased blood pressure,
to weight loss. The addictive part of
nicotine is attributed to its stimula-
tion of the dopaminergic reward sys-
tem in the central nervous system,
which is also implicated in other
addictive behaviors like cocaine,

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