Monday, June 30, 2008

Anti Anti-Smoking

I heard a little of Joe Jackson's 1982 hit "Steppin' Out" tonight, followed that up by watching a YouTube broadcast of the original video, and finally ended up looking around Joe's website. "Steppin' Out" was on the "Night and Day" album, which my roommate in college used to play quite a bit, so I remember all those tracks very well. There was always something magical about this song in particular. It has a smooth dance rhythm underneath a series of slow chord changes, creating a hypnotic feeling as you listen to the lyrics. The video itself is a great fantasy about early '80s New York City life:


I remember that Jackson was upset about this video when it came out, and vowed to not make another because he thought such videos unnecessarily associate images with the song that the artist never intended.

Anyway, as I clicked away on his website, I came across a section in which Joe argues against all the "anti-smoking hysteria." On my recent trip to Croatia I was slightly annoyed by all the smoking that was going on during the dinners and coffee breaks, but some of the other people I was with really started moaning loudly about the smoke. It wasn't that long ago that I was frequently standing among smokers (or sitting with my relatives when I was a child) and not really noticing the smoke. I wondered how much my recent reaction was due to years of listening to all these anti-smoking campaigns. Don't get me wrong...I am not an advocate for smoking. But I did find Joe Jackson's pamphlet interesting. He thoughtfully reviews the evidence for the causes of secondhand smoke, as well as the direct and indirect effects of smoking on health. He concludes in a section titled "How to be Healthy:"
I think there are two different approaches to living a healthy life. One is to try very hard to avoid everything which current opinion holds to be bad for you, be guided by ‘experts’ and statistics, feel very guilty about any human imperfection, and generally believe that if you work hard enough, you can achieve invulnerability. This is very American. The other is to enjoy yourself, be reasonably moderate, be sceptical of the ‘experts,’ and let the chips fall where they may. This approach is more European - or used to be. These are broad stereotypes, but they’re both reasonable and most people are drawn more to one than the other. The problem comes when the first group starts to dictate to the second. Especially when there’s no real proof, that either approach works best.
I think I'll go have another Diet Coke and ponder the evidence.

2 comments:

Audra said...

What a fascinating pamphlet. It made me want to smoke a cigarette in a desperately confrontational manner. Joe Jackson is one of my favorite artists, yet Steppin Out is one of my least favorite songs of his...thanks for getting it stuck in my head for the last three days!

The Prof said...

...better "Steppin' Out" than some of the preschool TV show tunes that end up trapped in my head!