By BARBARA BOVA
Scripps Howard News Service
April 10, 2005
Last night we were at an open-air restaurant having dinner. This was in a college town, and most of the people there were in their late teens and 20s. As I looked around, I noticed that many of the young men were not smoking. I wish I could say the same for the young women. It's bad enough that women have taken to puncturing their bodies with tattoos as males did before them. But now they're beating the guys to the lung-cancer ward and making heart and other body specialists rich.
Where are their brains? My smart and savvy husband says it all: Women think that being like a guy will get them one. From what I've observed, it doesn't work that way anymore now then it did when I was a teenager.
But let's get back to the fact of longer life spans and female behavior. It seems equality of the sexes has resulted in the fact that death rates of the two sexes are getting closer. Lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema are devastating the female population.
Think about it. If this trend continues, in a few more years there will be more men than women. That could result in some interesting situations. For instance, some businesses that cater to older single ladies will have to think about installing urinals. Retirement communities will turn into old-boy clubs. There will be more available older men to find younger women. Older guys will be competing with younger men for the same women. Financial plans will have to change. A couple might be able to spend their last years having a blast, not worrying that one will be left insolvent.
Despite all the factual information about smoking, young females are ever more anxious to light up their first cigarette. They manage to ignore the warning labels. This is called, by psychology buffs, cognitive dissonance, or "it can't happen to me"-kind of thinking. Happily, the clean-air law has stopped many from smoking in restaurants, offices and other public places. It's one law that has done the job it set out to do.
Fewer people of both sexes are smoking, but men, especially educated men, are the prizewinners. Educated women, on the other hand, can't seem to kick the habit. Unfortunately, I also see elderly ladies, sclerotic shoulders bent down upon themselves, or shuffling along relying on walkers, with cigarettes firmly grasped between their arthritic fingers.
I'm a true believer in women's rights, but the right to smoke is one right that is wrong and we women should do something about it. When I see a young woman with her child on her knee and she's blowing cigarette smoke into his space, I am totally incensed. The damage of secondhand smoke is well documented. Every pediatrician should remind her patient's parents that smoking around a child is abusive behavior.
Caring parents should make it their goal to discourage smoking from the child's earliest years. Give your child the ammunition she will need to stand up against peer pressure later on. Young women may think they're invulnerable. It's up to us to nag them about the consequences. Mothers who care about their children will find the energy and persistence to see that their daughters don't get started down the path of self-destructive behavior.
1075 Central Ave., Naples, Fl 34102 or e-mail babova(at)naplesnews.com