Sunday, January 18, 2009

HealthScare Ping-Pong

Just one week ago the media was disseminating the good news about a new study that showed one cup of coffee a day reduced the risk of oral cancer by 50% in both normal and high risk individuals.

As a coffee drinker and cigar smoker, I thought this was excellent news. While drinking coffee comes easy to me, I am constantly grumbling about having to work out and eat healthy.... so I was quite thrilled about the newly discovered benefits of coffee.

Today, I tuned into AOL and saw this:

And, for a second I almost felt bad for the coffee industry. I was thinking, 'here we go again; sensationalized headlines touting something else to be afraid of".... And, then I remembered, "I'm in the tobacco industry!!!".... No one gets more beat up, demonized, be-smirched, taxed, legislated, and scapegoated than us.

The fact is, health and safety are big businesses... and there will always be contradictory, conflicting, or sensational claims on every side of an issue. One day meat is good, another it is bad. Sometimes alcohol is good, other times it is bad for you. And the news media loves reporting anything dramatic; and reporting everything dramatically. And it certainly seems like negative and scary things get much more play - notice the AOL header: 'Don't Drink That Coffee'. While positive (non-scary) topics get more mundane exposure:

Sadly, fear and death sells (just watch how easily legislators pass anti-smoking laws). People 'click' on scary articles and 'stay tuned' for negative news. In our fast paced world, it can be very difficult to get 'the real story'; today's 'real story' is tomorrow's lie - and vice-versa. I suppose the best thing an enlightened citizen can do is stay educated and open-minded, practice tolerance and moderation and avoid harsh knee jerk reactions to the news, science, and everything else. The world is far too big and dynamic to think we can know it all.

But, I am really preaching to the choir here, as cigar and pipe smokers take the time to sit back and relax, contemplate and get perspective on life. I suppose that is what the anti-smokers in the world don't understand; they don't understand that cigar and pipe lovers are savoring their time... We are trying to decompress from the hysterical and sensationalized world we are forced to live in... like we have been for thousands of years. Instead of reacting to HealthScare Ping-Pong and every other fear that is thrust upon us, we should make it our mission to share our values with those that are less enlightened.... thus, making the world a better and more healthy place.

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