Have you noticed that, increasingly over the past couple of years, characters in both movies and television series are smoking more, using marijuana, and snorting cocaine? It’s true! This trend hasn’t made its way into Disney animated features—yet. I guess the mantra for the “I just want to have fun” era is: if it’s mostly legal and it’s profitable, all rules are off the table; have at it!
The above photo is of me having “my last cigarette” with a female soldier who was guarding boxes of Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) at Fort Polk in 1995.
I puffed a few cigarettes in college in the early 1960s, quit when I got pregnant, and didn’t get serious about cigarettes until I was a cop, after a nasty divorce in the ’70s. Hell, cops smoked, perps smoked, convicts smoked, and guards smoked. We lived in bullpens that reeked like dirty ashtrays. I quit several more times until finally giving up cigarettes for good, substituting a glass of wine for a cigarette when I answered the phone. The problem was that I began drinking too much and had to quit that, too!
We didn’t have sex in the ‘60s for fear of pregnancy and, after my hysterectomy and divorce, I had to forego strangers in the night because of the risk of HIV/AIDS. Marijuana didn’t arrive on Middle America’s college campuses until the mid-‘60s, and I was married with kids during the big cocaine years and way too old and smart to mess with opioids or heroin.
No pats on the back, please. As the saying goes, “There but for the grace of god go I.” As I was quitting my bad habits, society and public health officials seemed to be rallying for everyone to quit, and public policy was clearly against promoting our national drugs of choice. Advertising campaigns turned against our misbehaviors and promoted abstinence across the board. If you weren’t hanging out somewhere XXX-rated, big time sinning wasn’t happening.
Now, sinning is back in business. Regulations are relaxed or overlooked. Profit is the god we worship, despite the human cost. I expect any day now to see the Marlboro man ride through my living room throwing out free packs of cigarettes. Worse, we see it as our right to smoke, fornicate, or ingest ourselves to death. But if we don’t care about our personal health, we won’t care about the health of the planet, either.