Why do people still smoke?


With the amount of information about the effects of smoking, it amazes me how many people still want to smoke. My father in-law had a laryngectomy several years ago and speaks through a valve in his neck. After several years of remission he now has tumors in his bladder. My mother in-law has emphysema and cerebrovascular disease, which is similar to Alzheimer’s Disease with similar symptoms. She still smokes.

The cost of smoking increases constantly with taxes and governments have been forcing manufacturers to add more and more horrific images of rotting lungs and other consequences, but to little avail.

It is now known that current smokers have a 50% greater likelihood of getting dementia and are 70% more likely to get Alzheimer’s Disease. It deems this hasn’t had the same publicity as other consequences, perhaps because there is no cure, or operation to help people recover from it.

For people that want the nicotine rush, but want to avoid the tar and other carcinogens that come from tobacco, there are now other alternatives. One is nicotine gum. I used this myself some 20 years ago when I decided it was time to give up. The gum worked for me because I wanted to give up and by continuing the supply of nicotine I was able to get over the psychological urge to smoke.

Now there are E-CIG’s which allow you to continue getting the nictotine rush as well as the need to have something in your hand, to put in your mouth and suck in that deep breath, inhaling a measured shot of nicotine sprayed from an atomiser and then having a nice relaxing exhale. This could one day become quite the vogue for people who want to enjoy smoking, but want to avoid the risks. There are several benefits. You don’t have to be a pariah, standing out in the cold, excluded from enjoying your passion, barred from restaurants and drinking establishments.

There are some ironies in the smoking statistics. In the US, the highest percentage of smokers are those just above the poverty level at 29.9%. Overall around 24% of men and 20% of women in the US smoke tobacco. You often hear of people saying the smoke because they can’t afford many vices and smoking makes them feel better. Off course we all know that those same people also have a lower life expectancy. Some of it might be down to access to medicine, not having medical insurance and so on, but those that can least afford it seem to spend the most money on alcohol, gambling and smoking (to list the legal things).

In New Zealand around 25% of people smoke and a worse statistic is that around 174 to 490 non smokers die from second hand smoke.

There is no end in sight and while in countries like New Zealand it is pretty much illegal to advertise tobacco in any form, hope over to countries like Jamaica and you will see enormous ‘statues’ of packs of cigarettes and billboards of people with big smiles on their faces as they take a big lungfull of tar.

I would love to see support for the E-CIG’s because if people got the same stimulation, even if they don’t have fun curling the smoke from their mouths to their noses, or blowing smoke rings, they would at least live longer. I don’t know how bad the nicotine is as a stimulant.  I did some research on whether nicotine is harmful in itself and there are conflicting opinions and I guess given the commitment of manufacturers to keep making and selling tobacco products, there is potential for bias.

The main thing people say is that nicotine is an addictive substance, but my experience was that nicotine chewing gum made it so much easier for me to give up smoking. The evidence on smoking tobacco is irrefutable and the many court cases the tobacco industry has lost bear testiment to this.

I have a problem with intelligent people using and abusing drugs. Whether it is overuse of prescription drugs, smoking, taking mild or dangerous drugs such as methamphetamines or binge drinking. Many of my friends drink alcohol every day and many can’t open a bottle of wine without finishing it in one sitting. Many are happy drinking a whole bottle on their own, several times a week. I have a friend who works in a prison with methamphetamine addicts and told me that they have inmates who have virtually no brain left. That warden still smokes and drinks to excess.

So here’s a lits of what intelligent people are legally risking with tobacco smoking according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Lung cancer and other lung diseases. Smoking causes nearly nine out 10 of lung cancer cases, as well as other lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also makes asthma worse.
  • Heart and circulatory system problems. Smoking increases your risk of dying of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. Smoking 15 cigarettes a day doubles your heart attack risk. Even smoking just one to four cigarettes daily increases your risk of heart disease. If you have cardiovascular illness or heart failure, smoking worsens your condition. However, stopping smoking reduces your risk of having a heart attack by 50 percent in the first year.
  • Other cancers. Smoking is a major cause of cancers of the esophagus, larynx, throat (pharynx) and mouth and also is related to cancer of the bladder, pancreas, kidney, cervix, stomach, and some leukemias.
  • Physical appearance. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can change the structure of your skin, causing premature aging and wrinkles. Smoking also yellows your teeth, fingers and fingernails.
  • Infertility and impotence. Smoking increases the risk of infertility in women and the chance of impotence in men.
  • Pregnancy and newborn complications. Mothers who smoke while pregnant face a higher risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, decreased birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in their newborn. Low birth weight babies are more likely to die or have learning and physical problems.
  • Cold, flu and other illnesses. Smokers are more prone to respiratory infections, such as colds, flu and bronchitis, than are nonsmokers.
  • Diabetes. Smoking increases insulin resistance, which can set the stage for the development of type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, smoking can speed the progress of complications such as kidney disease.
  • Impaired senses. Smoking deadens your senses of taste and smell, so food isn’t as appetizing as it once was.
  • Risks to your family. Spouses and partners of smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer and heart disease, compared with people who don’t live with a smoker. If you smoke, your children will be more prone to sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, ear infections and colds.

So I’ll leave the last note to doctor’s of yesteryear:

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course https://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

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Election Promises


It’s full on election time, we have had the first debate. One thing that I thought was very cool was that TVNZ ran the debate in conjunction with YouTube. People were invited to record their questions for the leaders of the Labour and National parties on YouTube. The questions and responses, such as this one on Law and Order are also available to view on YouTube which means everyone has easy access to the parts of the

debate they are interested in. Great use of new technology and kudos to TV One.

And the NZ Herald has regular features talking about the different offerings on a topic, from each party. Today’s topics are law and order. I was telling my wife about the Act policy which I like.

Key things I like are that you serve the sentence you are given and 3 strikes and your out. I think this policy is based on the system that made many of the streets in New York safe. The first time I went to New York and wanted to go to the Cotton Club, I was told that taxi’s would take me there before dark, but they wouldn’t come back to pick me up because it was too dangerous in Harlem and taxi drivers were being murdered. In recent years the Zero Tolerence policy has made the area much safer.

They also said that if you are sentenced to 5 years in jail, you should serve 5 years. This is something that we have been asking for for years. The problem is that parties make all these statements, but they have very little credibility because they never seem to follow through. I am thinking that one possibility is using our political system to vote for a party like Act on the party vote to give them the legs to push through one of these policies.

Law and order is an election issue and in my humble opinion Helen Clark and the Labour Party want everybody’s vote and are saying they are against gangs and organized crime, but sympathizing with the reasons people join them. The National Party doesn’t seem to be much better. John Key is saying that he wants to lock up recidivist criminals and will build a new prison to house them. In my humble opinion young gang members who go to jail will add to their ‘mana’ (in simple terms Maori for honor or power) within the gang and will be heroes when they come out. They will be looked after ‘inside’ by their gang family and life won’t be too bad at all.

My wife said, “It’s all very well them saying these things when they want to vote for you, but after the election all the promises go out the window”, well actually she said something more colorful, but she’s pretty much on the mark. How many times have we been conned by politicians, voting for them on the basis of their election promises and then when they get in they have loads of great reasons why they couldn’t go through with it, usually blaming the outgoing parliament.

The addage is that it doesn’t matter who you vote for, a politician will always get in. It’s funny really that at election time we elect people that mostly we don’t trust to keep their promises and give them a mandate to run the biggest organisation, our whole country!

Identity Tag Implants


The more I read and see on TV about recidivist criminals, the more I like the idea of implanted ID tags into convicted criminals. I know this sounds big brother and the late Philip K Dick, one of my favourite authors, spent a lifetime warning us against this sort of technology and the risks of abuse. But what about law abiding citizens and our rights to live in a safe and wholesome environment where we don’t have to be afraid to go for a beach walk on a hot summer’s evening?

I’m starting to think not only that this is a good idea, but I think at least for certain types of crime, particularly violence and sex crimes, convicted criminals should have these devices implanted as a condition of parole. Why should they have all the rights and we have to pay to support them after they have hurt us and our society and thereby taken away our freedom?

In the Sci-Fi books you read about implants that include RF transmitters that send out an alert if the implants have been surgically removed without authority and the underground businesses that find ways to do that, but having been able to read about all the ways that people envisaged the technology being nullified, I’m sure that we could create secure devices.

We already have electronic anklets for criminals under house arrest or on bail, so the concept has already begun, but I’m after something that is more pervasive. Way over 50% of criminals who go to prison for violence, sex and theft will return to prison again. It becomes their way of life. We should be able to harness technology that makes this more difficult. In a connected world we could have all sorts of preventative measures based around RFID or similar technologies.

For example:

  • Sex offenders could have a code set up in their tags which sets off an alarm if they are in proximity to schools or locations where they might offend and part of their parole conditions would be that they are not allowed within a certain distance of at risk locations.
  • Burglars could have a code that tells an activated burglar alarm who they are and simultaneously through the alarm’s monitoring service alerts police that John B(ad) Citizen has just tripped an alarm that was active at 15A Smith Street. Even if they made a getaway, they could be located through their tags and of course they have already been accurately identified, so a conviction would result with a minimum of police time and cost and of course reduced court/litigation costs.
  • People who have non-molestation orders against them would trigger alarms and an automated arrest warrant issued if they come into proximity of addresses they have been forbidden to approach.
  • Going a step further, serious recidivists,criminally active gang members etc and those under strict probation or parole orders could also be fitted with a GPS transmitter so that they can no longer hide. Imagine how much time, grief, lives and cost could be saved if repeat criminals could no longer hide their whereabouts!

You get the idea?

I was remarking to a friend the other day that every election year, crime and violence are election issues and all sorts of promises are made, but it never matters who is elected, because their stance instantly softens and we are so PC that it is always the poor criminals with their harsh upbringings who are looked after, while the victims fight and argue with the insurance companies who were so eager to win their premiums. The good guys lose and crime often does pay.

Our police do a wonderful job and I take my hat off to them. It is a tough life and they do their best to make the country a safer place, but the problem is that by the time they are called in, the crime has already been committed. Our jails are now safe havens where people can live an orderly life, with 3 square meals at a huge cost to the taxpayer. If they break a leg trying to escape, they get compensation! Then afterwards they are put back on the street where the majority will offend again. Let’s make it really difficult for them to do that.

Some people will say, they have done their time and they should now be treated as a normal everyday citizen. For people who do silly things as an odd abheration that doesn’t physically hurt or traumatise their victims, maybe I’d give them one chance. But if they are repeat offenders then as far as I am concerned, they have become career criminals and they lose their rights.

For all our great ideas, rehabilitation, training, discipline, encounter groups, counselling etc, our prison population is growing faster than our national population even though we have very low unemployment and we have a welfare state.

So what about the rights of the peaceful law abiding citizens. Remember us? If they aren’t protected, we may start to see the public fight back as we have seen in the last week where a peace abiding citizen chased after a tagger with a knife. The tagger is dead and both his and the citizen’s lives have been devastated. If you break into my house and I attack you to defend myself, my property or my family, I end up treated as a criminal, yet the criminal says the ‘system’ is unfair.

The PC brigade will talk about the risk of this technology being abused by corrupt people, and of course there will always be a degree of corruption, but on the whole we employ people in the forces who earn and deserve our

Tag ’em I say.

My daughter’s home got burgled yesterday


She’s only been in her own home for 6 months and fortunately for us, she hasn’t had to experience this before. The last time my house (desperately seeking wood to touch) was just before she was born. They took 2 cameras (one with an SD Card full of priceless photos that hadn’t yet been backed up and a Play Station. All the appliances had been unplugged from the walls and it seems that they were disturbed by a neighbour coming home before they could get the rest of their treasures.

My daughter’s first reaction was, “I don’t want to live here anymore” and I had to explain that it doesn’t matter where you live, you are always at risk. Her house alarm gets installed on Friday so hopefully after that she will be fine. But it reminds me of how I felt when we got burgled. Again not much was taken but it was the feeling of being violated that is the biggest concern. Your home is the place that you are always supposed to be safe in and when that safety is taken away, what do you have left?

The other question arises as to what can you do if you catch a burglar in action. I know what I would like to do and would probably do if the situation arose or the opportunity presents itself. Many of the burglars today are in their early to mid teens and the law has no teeth to discourage them. Half of them, especially if they have no prior’s will be dealt a swift slap on the wrist with a “Don’t do that again you naughty boy.” One school of thought is that the parents should be held responsible, but given the defense that usually comes up of poor children who had a tough time and little opportunities as they were growing up. Well I don’t buy that. New Zealand is a country where anyone that is prepared to get their hands dirty can get work and can get a roof over their heads. We have a social welfare system that provides for that, you don’t even have to have insurance. We have very high employment here and if you genuinely can’t get a job, there is always the dole.

Given the way these people were organised unplugging all the appliances and having them ready for a quick getaway, this was no impulse job, they had done this before.

So if you catch them and deal to them, you could end up being the one up on charges. Where’s the justice in that? If I catch one of these beggars before the police do, they might accidentally fall over and hurt themselves. Maybe I could write ‘THIEF’ on their forheads in permanent ink? What do you reckon?

Our penal system is great, they don’t do hard labour, they get good meals, can study, watch TV, play sport, make things in workshops and learn new skills, like how to steal more and not get caught as often. Over 50% of the crims are recidivists, some because they consider life inside preferably to outside.

There have been suggestions of sendig them to the army and putting them through bootcamp without the option of leaving. For some of the younger ones, this could save their lives and teach them some pride. This is one of the perrenial suggestions, but of course the army doesn’t want them.

I quite like the idea, especially for violent offenders where there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever of their guilt and their are no mitigating circumstances, of dropping them on an island, maybe like Pitcairn, and leaving them to live or die, with no way out. Alternatively, let them build new roads or do something else useful, why should taxpayers have to continue to be punished by paying out $250,000 a year to house them i comfort in our prisons.

OK, I’m getting off my soap box now. Elections are coming soon and law and order will again be a major platform, but will they finally listen? See the problem with elections is that it doesn’t really matter who you vote for, a politician will always get in.