Archive for July, 2006

the dirty truth about nicotine addiction

July 15, 2006

Though smoking is becoming less tolerated in our society, nicotine is still widely sympathized and underestimated as a drug.

In 1998 the US Surgeon General concluded that nicotine is as addictive as cocaine or heroin. A more recent report decreed that there is no safe level of cigarette smoke – it is poisonous at any quantity – more toxic than previously thought.

The dangerous effects of nicotine use are not obvious at the beginning. However, tobacco is the main factor in the top 3 causes of death in Canada – cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory illness.

The difference between nicotine and alcohol addiction is that, in Alberta, 90% of people who smoke are addicted to nicotine while only 2.7% of people who drink alcohol are addicted to alcohol.

An addictions research commission in Alberta believes that, since the initial physical reactions to smoking are so unpleasant, it is social pressure that causes people to continue experimenting with tobacco until they become addicted.

There is a study referenced by the Canadian Cancer Society that suggests it may take as few as one or two cigarettes for a teenager to become addicted to nicotine.

Of youth smokers, 48% purchased their own cigarettes even though they are under age. One third of them bought at a convenience store.

For more information, follow these links:

Health Canada tobacco stats

Research from Alberta on nicotine

Health Canada site about youth smoking

Canadian Cancer Society info about lung cancer

lung cancer death stat factoids

causes of lung cancer

Canadian Council for Tobacco Control

freedom of speech… unless you’re elected

July 12, 2006

Why is it that I see the same people angrily lecturing me to respect their right to express themselves then get outraged when I express my own perspectives. Am I not also entitled to a personal opinion, or did I abdicate that right by being elected? Public debate should be about sharing ideas and stories, not name-calling and personal insults. It’s a sad commentary on our society that we cannot have a public dialogue without some people being abusive and rude. Please, let’s have a debate of ideas without judging the people in the debate.

forging a politician

July 10, 2006

It seems to me, one of the things that helps a new candidate win an election is that they be outspoken. Being outspoken is usually fuelled by opinions. Voters want to see a potential elected representative as being familiar with the issues and willing to take a stand for their ideas.

What’s interesting is that citizens seem to prefer candidates who don’t shy away from sharing their opinions, but yet get very aggravated, even outraged, when an elected representative disagrees with them. It makes for an awkward and confusing learning curve for a newly elected politicians.

In doing a bit of research preparing for this week’s Social Committee meeting, someone explained to me that many people only feel listened to if you agree with them. After being conditioned to worry about inciting an obstructionist, this creates the need to temporize with ambiguity and vague commitments.

Sometimes I look at the way I’m dealing with issues, and I don’t like what I see. I’m learning to be a politician. I didn’t want to be a politician. I wanted to be the anti-politics politician. Unfortunately it often feels like I’m having that beat out of me.

It has become obvious that the reason politicians act like politicians is because that’s what they have to do in order to achieve goals. It’s something learned through trial and error after being elected – learning by what people in the community accept and what they reject.

Though people complain about politics, it really is an animal of their own creation.