Thursday, December 10, 2009

More bad stuff about tobacco

Little kids exposed to tobacco smoke can become brats or worse in school. And it's worse the sooner the exposure starts. Being exposed prenatally nearly doubled the risk of hyperactivity, ADHD, or not getting along with other kids. Being exposed after birth increased the risk by about a third.

I'm not a prohibitionist on much of anything, but I'm glad the government is doing some things to reduce tobacco smoking. I especially support increased tobacco taxes. It wouldn't affect adult smokers, who would piss and moan but still buy cigarettes, but adolescents are much more affected by price. You can't make people quit by raising prices, but you can keep them from starting and then use other methods for the existing smokers (or just wait for them to die off as a group).

And the fact that so many people in so many culture like to start smoking tells me that it does something in the brain that we like. So even if we need to stop tobacco smoking, we should keep working on just what it is that nicotine does in the brain, so we can find a safe drug that will do the same thing. Imagine if there were substitutes for tobacco that didn't smell bad, fill your lungs with crap, and cause cancer; or a substitute for cocaine that wasn't addictive and didn't make your brain rot; or a non-addictive substitute for heroin that didn't cause diarrhea. It's been a long time since I read Brave New World, but I think access to Soma would improve a lot of lives.

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