Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ban Childproof Lighters and Restore Democracy


For my niece A.P.S. who is Smoke-Free for one week today, which through NO coincidence is as long as this blog existed -- such is the Power Of The Blog . . .

Long ago, I decided to give up smoking.  Oh, sure, it was a glamorous habit, bringing me endless hours of joy through social ostracism and fear of death.  But the one health risk I could no longer ignore – one afflicting millions across the nation – was damaged texting-calluses from operating childproof lighters.

Did you notice that texting came into fashion around the same time restaurants, federal buildings, and the Actual Outdoors  banned public smoking?

 I feel CERTAIN these events are linked:  If smokers fruitlessly flicked away at flame-free lighters, the damage to texting-thumbs would collapse the cell phone industry. (I’m no conspiracy theorist: but does the cell phone industry NOT thrive today??) 

Meanwhile, thousands of ex-smokers’ homes now boast Nostalgia Bowls brimming with childproof lighters…  just itching to be awarded as door prizes at the next religious holiday-gathering or children’s birthday party.

Do you recall how this all began?  It was the year that clerks at convenience stores stopped handing out free matches with cigarette purchases.  The public was told this was done as a safety precaution, under the guise that convenience stores sell gasoline, and that matches and gasoline combust.

Actually, it was a campaign to raise state revenue by making people PAY for matches, which people started DOING. 

That’s when they took away the matches and made people pay for lighters.

So successful was this effort, they took away the flammable kind that folks paid money for, and came up with a lighter that could not produce flame. (The original non-flaming lighter was marketed as a novelty item at Newbury Comics, next to candles that don’t blow out.)

Pharmacies soon got hold of them and sold them to parents as a means to encourage their teenagers to quit smoking.  HMOs gave them away at smoking cessation clinics.

Before we knew it, they appeared in toy stores so parents could give them to their three-year-olds (who are born knowing how to ignite them) to bolster their self -esteem. (Back then self-esteem was a federally-funded project Democrats worked on feverishly until they proved it should be included in public education.  Soon, federal educational grants included a year’s supply of childproof lighters.)

But still, the purchase of childproof versus lighters small children weren’t interested in was left to the consumer.

That’s when the Republican Congress, bored with cutting federal funding to the arts, decided to ban ignitable lighters.

Today Americans have no choice.  Our country’s fourteen remaining smokers are being forced to bolster children’s self-esteems whether they want to or not.

Everywhere you turn, you’ll find self-esteems being bolstered left and right, mostly right, and it’s producing a future generation of smarmy, self-righteous Republicans.

This raises an important question for 2016.   Without two different parties, won’t elections suck?

I say, if this great nation is going to endure, by GOD we’ve got to start selling tiny ice picks to disarm that safety switch.

And GET those childproof lighters -- AND those children -- out of public schools. If adults wanted to be made to look stupid by chubby, overachieving school children, we wouldn’t stop smoking in the first place.