Staff writer Eric Blair sweetens our weekend with a good shot of humour as he explores the quest on the part of Public Health and its community activist partners to engineer the first-ever fully-documented death from Second Hand Smoke.
Enjoy the gripping tale of the hapless Mr. Moorehead, as you are introduced to some of the players whose praise-worthy machinations are helping to make life better for all of them– er … all or us, that is — every day in every way.
In a joint press conference on Friday, the World Health Organization and the US Centesr for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the premature death of a Montana man will be caused by exposure to Second Hand Smoke.
“After extensive conversation with the SAMMEC computers and after long and grueling hours of torturing the data until it told us what we want to hear, we are finally prepared to definitively state that Richard Mooreheads’ death will be a direct result of his exposure to Second Hand Smoke.” Said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan “We can find no other logical reason for Mr. Moorehead’s soon to be tragic demise other than his exposure to SHS.”
The soon to be deceased Mr. Moorehead, 54, an unemployed HIV positive, type 2 diabetic, MS, ALS and kidney dialysis patient who is addicted to crystal meth and heroin, was shocked and visibly angry when told of his diagnosis and cause of death. Reached at his home in an exclusive gated trailer park community in Missoula, MT, Mr. Moorehead blamed his impending death on the careless brutes with cigarettes down at Jim’s Roadhouse Bar on Highway 263. “I’ve never smoked tobacco in my life. But that darn Jim’s Bar was always filled with that there smoke.”
Second Hand Smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of a smoker. It causes an estimated 450,000 deaths per day, according to health authorities, Al Gore and Dionne Warwick’s Psychic Friends Network. It’s also been known to cause AIDS, herpes, hemorrhoids, athlete’s foot and jock itch.
Anti-smoking activists around the globe celebrated the announcement. They noted that up until now, the millions of “deaths” attributed to ETS have been merely computer generated printouts.
“This is very significant news,” said James Repace of Repace Associates, a Second Hand Smoke think tank based in Bowie, Md. “I’m looking forward to attending a real live funeral! What should I wear?”
Montana State Medical Examiner Gary Dale has already printed Mr. Moorehead’s death certificate but he urged caution and promised a full and fair investigation into the cause of death.
“Of course we are not exactly sure where Mr. Morehead will be when he dies. He might be stabbed during a drug deal gone wrong. He could be shot by one of his 4 ex-wives as payback for his physical abuse and failure to pay alimony and child support. He could crash his pickup into an SUV while driving the wrong way down the highway with a BAC of .45. My money in the office pool is on an overdose. We simply do not know. Wherever he is, I’ve been instructed by higher authorities to make sure there is somebody smoking a pipe, cigar or cigarette nearby.” Dale also made it clear that Mr. Morehead will not suffer and he will not feel any pain since he’ll probably be high on PCP or heroin at the time of his death. He cautioned, however, that there will be plenty of gratuitous violence involved.
“Is going to be horrible.” Said Ernesto Sanchez, a local undocumented day laborer who will witness. Mooreheads’ death “Senor will be choking and coughing and gasping for air. I’ll see de whole thing.”
Mr. Moorehead will be taken to St. Patrick’s Hospital where he will be pronounced dead.
The Montana State Attorney General has already stated that foul play will definitely not be a factor in Mr. Moorehead’s death and there is no reason to investigate. “As long as our State and our partners in crime at the Big Tobacco companies in the MSA Tobacco Cartel continue to make a pile of cash, we don’t really give a rat’s ass who dies or from what. If you try to ban cigarettes I’ll sue you.”
Calls to Philip Morris seeking comment were referred to an attorney at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), where spokesman John Banzhaf was quoted as saying “On behalf of the guilty Big Tobacco companies, let me just state that we are in full agreement with whatever statement the health groups make. We don’t know what the statements are yet, but whatever they may be we totally agree.”
News of Mr. Mooreheads’ imminent death has sparked a renewed call for a statewide smoking ban in private business establishments to “level the playing field”. More than a dozen states and hundreds of cities and counties around the country ban smoking in restaurants, bars, or both. Montana does neither. Ben Dover, a spokesman for Smoke Free Montana, wants to change that.
His efforts are not being backed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, taxpayer funded groups that reap money from MSA payments or pharmaceutical companies that benefit from smoking bans because it increases the demand for their Nicotine Replacement Therapy products. He insists that Smoke Free Montana’s budget of $50,000,000 comes strictly from small grass roots good Samaritans who are acting out of an altruistic concern for their fellow man.
He does, however, have the support of Rep. Eve Franklin (D-Great Falls) who has introduced a bill, HB 0666; The Montana Clean Indoor Air Act, in the state legislature.
Reading from the laminated talking points provided to her by Mr. Dover, Rep. Franklin insisted “This bill is necessary to protect bar and restaurant employees and patrons from the deadly effects of Second Hand Smoke. Nobody should have to choose between their health and a paycheck. There is no safe level of exposure to SHS.”
Ms. Franklin was referring, of course, to the now famous comments made by former US Surgeon General Richard Carmona.
In June 2006, Carmona provided some needed ammunition for tobacco control advocates. His report concluded that there is no safe level of SHS exposure, making tobacco smoke unique in that regard as opposed to Sarin Gas, asbestos, or the ebola virus which, he says, pose no harm to humans in minute quantities.
His findings shocked Epidemiologists and Toxicologists around the world. Carmona’s term as Surgeon General was not renewed by the Bush Administration and he has been replaced by a cardboard cutout. He has since moved on to a more prestigious position as a towel boy and masseuse for the Canyon Ranch Resort and Spa in Arizona.
In a hastily called news conference from a bathroom stall in the men’s room, Mr. Carmona responded to the news of Mr. Mooreheads’ imminent death.
“See, I told you so! Nya, nya, nya, nya, nya na! There is no safe level of exposure to SHS, even a small amount causes cardiovascular disease and cancer.” He said, “The best way for non-smokers to protect themselves is to immediately begin smoking. Why should smokers even bother to quit, the SHS will kill them anyway.”
Responding to a reporters inquiry that his talking points were found nowhere in the report and an assertion that his “new study” contained no new evidence and was merely a repeat of former Surgeon General C. Everett Koops’ report released in 1986 at a politically opportune time as anti tobacco activists press for smoking bans in states across the country, Carmona bristled. He made it clear that producing such a report is not difficult. All he and Koop had to do was take the studies that supported their preconceived outcome and put them into a fancy bound presentation. Then throw the studies that disagreed with them into the fireplace.
After releasing the report to the eager left wing media partners, he and Koop only had to sit back and watch leftist public serpents do the rest. Mr. Carmona insists that he is not jealous of his predecessor.
“Screw Koop. How can anyone take him seriously? He looks like the commander of an Amish Battleship for crying out loud!” Carmona exclaimed.
Ben Dover takes the crusade and his $250,000 per year job very seriously. Citing the 1993 ASSIST (American Stop Smoking Intervention Study), he maintains that smoker bans and high tobacco taxes are a critical method to achieve the goals of “reducing public tolerance for tobacco use” and reducing smoking rates.
“We must stop people from being able to smoke in bars and restaurants”, Mr. Dover said “It’s a matter of public health.”
Seeking to ease concerns from reluctant state legislators, Mr. Dover and Ms. Franklin made it clear that the ban would only apply to the unwashed masses in the proletariet who enjoy a beer and a cigarette at the local bar after a hard day’s work. “Cigar Bars” where the bourgeois ruling elite go to smoke $150 Montechristo cigars and drink Johnnie Walker Blue at $25 per glass would be exempt. In addition, the casinos who pour hundreds of millions of dollars of tax revenue into state coffers would also be exempt.
Bars and taverns would not be so lucky.
Jim Thompson, the owner of Jim’s Roadhouse Bar says he remembers Mr. Moorehead very well and was saddened by the news. “Sure I remember Dick. He was my best customer. He drank so much booze that he practically put my two kids through college by himself. He would just sign over his disability check on the first of each month to pay his bar tab.”
Thompson also said Moorehead still holds the record for the most chicken wings ever consumed in 12 minutes, 198 wings, in the history of the bars legendary competition. He says he hasn’t seen Moorehead since the incident nearly 2 years ago when he was beaten and hospitalized by a group of Hell’s Angels when he complained about their smoking.
Reaction to the proposed smoking ban was mixed among the patrons at Jim’s.
Winthrop Smith, a patent attorney from Boston who was in town on his annual fishing and golf vacation said he would welcome a ban.
“I hate smoke in bars. It should be banned just in case I ever decide to come back to this place next year.” He said.
The regular patrons and employees at Jim’s, most of whom smoke, were unavailable for comment because they were too busy playing pool and debating health care reform in the back room. In the interest of equal time, the editors of this column felt it was necessary to put in the typical standard quote from the witless bar patron in such articles.
"I dunno, you know, it’s a bar, we should be able to smoke if we wants.” Said faceless Goober.
Despite the hysteria, many scientists and epidemiologists around the world remain skeptical about the health hazards of Environmental Tobacco Smoke, citing a lack of scientific evidence or studies that show a statistically significant correlation between ETS and heart disease or cancer. Mr. Dover dismissed those concerns, citing the 1993 ASSIST (American Stop Smoking Intervention Study), which determined that smoking bans were an important element in reducing smoking rates nationwide.
“We don’t need to be right. We just need to convince a majority of gullible part time state legislators in this state and the general public that we are right.” He said “Once smokers are kicked out of their favorite bar or restaurant, it will coerce them to quit smoking for their own good.”
All of this is of course too little and too late to save Mr. Moorehead. He’s a dead man walking.
Viewing will be held at Bob’s Discount Drive Thru Funeral Home. The funeral will be at the Church of the Worthless Miracle. In lieu of flowers, the family and his landlord have asked that donations be made to “Trailer Park Estates, LLC” to pay for the 2 years of unpaid back rent that Mr. Moorehead owes.