Oncologist James Martin ‘Builds Bridges’ to Smokers, Calls on Surgeon General to End Smokophobia
Washington D.C., September 3 — The office of the Surgeon General is again the center of controversy. As are other tradition-bound ramparts of the medical establishment. Their critics? Activists of the Pipe/Snuff/Cigar/Cigarette/Hookah Using (PSCCHU) rights movement. These PSCCHU Americans have long complained of the bias and discrimination they suffer. The culprits? Those who cling to establishment medical biases against tobacco users. Millions of PSCCHU Americans, leaders say, get stigmatized, segregated and excluded. Some are even charged discriminatory rates by insurance companies.
Why? Because of the decades-old stereotype promoted by establishment medicine. It suggests that PSCCHU Americans are somehow “sick,” or “more likely” to get sick. “The authorities of medical officialdom have stigmatized our lifestyle,” said Billy Bob McCormack. A taxidermist in Lumberport, WV, he is president of the Snuff Dippers Pride Coalition. “They pretend that it’s a death sentence. They warn us with scare stories. All based on their own unexamined prejudices,” he said.
“We are herded outside in bitter cold weather,” said Lucille DiGuilio. She’s an Astoria, Queens-based manicurist and open cigarette smoker. “That’s what endangers our health. Not our personal choice to consume a natural, organic product from the Native American tradition.” She spoke of painful experiences at the hands of smokophobes. “I’ve been asked to leave weddings, yoga classes, even family dinners at restaurants. Just for being who I am: an open, public smoker. People act as if I were a cancer cell or something. All because of what I choose to do with my own body.”
The New Face of Civil Rights in America
Calls by PSCCHU-rights activists to end segregation, discrimination, and bias against tobacco users are getting louder. They have rocked the citadels of traditional medical opinion. Protests, letter-writing campaigns, and boycott threats have forced these hidebound institutions to reconsider the costs/benefits of smoking. Progress won’t come easy, however. A decades-old diktat by the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office still stands. It accuses tobacco users of willfully injuring their own health. Even endangering that of others.
It’s unclear, however, how long such a smoking ban can stand in the face of human rights agitation by well-organized PSCCHU freedom advocates. “We’re confident that progressive oncologists can move the Surgeon General’s office to see through its historic biases on this issue.” So said retired whalebone carver and lifelong pipe-smoker Dan Horan, of Gloucester, Massachusetts. “It’s just a matter of raising consciousness.”
“Parents need to accept, welcome, and embrace their smoker child — not scare him or shame him with stories of hellfire or chemotherapy.”
Medical colleges and hospitals nationwide have reexamined their policies on whether tobacco use is healthy. In response to charges of smokophobia, the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Oklahoma have passed wide-ranging civil rights laws. “Thanks to enlightened lawmakers, I no longer have to live in the shadows while at work,” said heart surgeon Ignace Gauthreaux, of Labadieville, Louisiana. He is an “out and proud” cigar smoker. “Every time I look at that little ashtray we welded to the operating table, I am grateful to be an American.”
A Ban on Cruel “Therapies” Aimed at “Changing” Smokers
Some ten states are considering laws drawn up by PSCCHU-rights groups. These would prevent doctors from repeating the “official story” that tobacco use is harmful. Other bills would ban the use of cruel and archaic “quitting treatments” such as patches, gum, or hypnosis. These allegedly “help” tobacco users to become non-users.
A decades-old diktat by the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office still stands. It accuses tobacco users of willfully injuring their own health. Even endangering that of others. It is unclear, however, for how long such a smoking ban can stand in the face of human rights agitation by well-organized PSCCHU freedom advocates.
Activists point to the need for more extensive efforts. They note the plight of young people who have discovered that they are smokers. They face cruel pressure from parents, schools, and classmates that disapprove of their smoking identity. “As early as eight or nine, most of us knew that we were smokers,” said hookah advocate Abshir Abdikarím, of Lewiston, Maine. “And parents need to accept, welcome, and embrace their smoker child — not scare him or shame him with stories of hellfire or chemotherapy,” he said.
Now leading oncologist Dr. James Martin, of Walter Reed Hospital, has emerged as a prominent champion of PSCCHU Americans. “For too long, we have let medical authorities dictate to us. They try to control the health and choices of millions of ordinary people.” So he wrote in his groundbreaking new book: Building a Bridge: How the Medical Establishment and the PSCCHU Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.”
Dr. Martin has been using his bully pulpit as a leading oncologist at Walter Read. His goal? To dismantle stereotypes that afflict tobacco-using Americans. “They label people as ‘cancer patients,’ or ‘emphysema victims,’ or ‘tongue amputees,’ instead respecting of them as persons,” Martin said. “And that is dehumanizing. It is wrong. It is time for the medical community to repent. For the Surgeon General to reexamine its outdated policy stigmatizing PSSCHU Americans as somehow ‘unhealthy’ or ‘self-destructive.’ Let the healing begin.”
Editor’s Note: This is satire.