The vapors of death

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By John Pawlak

Each month brings a new cuisine of media frenzy, some topic of discussion by which the American public can be lulled into a comatose state after being bludgeoned with thirty thousand variations of the same news story.
 And the winner this month is - chemical warfare!
 Before I rant about the evils of chemical weapons, I should admit that I am not blessed with the insightful interpretation of the ethics of killing people. Syria is “morally wrong” for using chemical weapons. They should be more civilized, drops bombs on people, blow their legs off, and let them bleed to death.
 I do love military intelligence.
 Anyway, back to chemical warfare. It’s nasty stuff, a vile way to die. Only a sociopathic sadist would take delight in orchestrating the deaths of untold numbers by the use of poisonous chemicals.
 Sadly, these weapons do exist and thousands of people are being subjected to chemical vapors designed to slowly kill them.
 It wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the chemicals killed people faster. Breathing in the vapors and keeling over dead in seconds isn’t much worse than having 9.5 grams of lead propelled through your brain at 833 m/s.
But chemical warfare isn’t designed to be quick. It’s designed to be effective. Death is almost certain, but it’s slow. Very slow.
In fact, the chemicals being used can take decades to kill a person. As victims are continually exposed to these chemical vapors, their lungs and hearts are slowly eroded. Death eventually comes, but not until after years of suffering.
And yet, despite the torment endured by millions of victims, the US Congress refuses to do anything about it.
Last year alone, nearly half a million Americans were killed by these chemical weapons! Each year, poisonous vapors account for nearly one in every five deaths in the United States.
Move over, Syria. You guys don’t know the first thing about how to kill people.
If you want to play with the big boys, the real experts in how to destroy lives (and make lots of money doing it), you need to chummy up to the tobacco companies.
Now, I’m not trying to trivialize Syrian deaths by chemical warfare. It is sheer terror for the victims and it speaks poorly for the human race that this type of activity can even exist.
But let’s not trivialize the attack on American lungs either.
Tobacco is responsible for more deaths in America each year than the combined total caused by illegal drugs, alcohol, motor vehicle injuries, AIDS, and murders.
You’ve got to read that last sentence again to let it really sink in. Guns, drunk driving, alcoholism, domestic violence, the drug cartel, the rampant spread of STDs. These are horrible attacks on what we can barely call civilization, and yet a single statistic dwarfs them all.
Smoking is responsible for 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and 80% for women. Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke by up to four times that for non-smokers.
And while 440,000 Americans died last year as a result of smoking, tobacco companies pocketed billions of dollars.
In order to grasp how much is at stake for these greedy chemical warfare producers, consider the fact that tobacco companies spent nearly $9 Billion last year on advertisement alone.
Clearly, this addiction is highly profitable.
Addiction? Didn’t the CEOs of tobacco companies state under oath to Congress that cigarette smoking is not addictive?
Well, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. The real addiction seems to be the one Congress has with the taxes collected on cigarette sales, about $20 Billion a year in taxes. Add to that $7 Billion a year in excise taxes and another pile of money handed over by tobacco PACs.
For politicians, numbers like that are truly addictive!
But what can we do? Unlike other fun addictions people have, a good guy with a cigarette can’t stop a bad guy with a cigarette.
Maybe Syria could learn something from us. If they flavored their chemical attacks with menthol, people just might learn to enjoy them!