It seems like yesterday when Grandpa and I would head to the drive-through at Cronin's. He'd grab a pack of Pall-Malls and toss me the bubble gum version. Joe Camel was everywhere and those pesky redneck racers used Winston as a title sponsor. It was inevitable. I was going to smoke, right? Nope. I never, ever had a desire.
Grandpa eventually quit smoking and those bubble gum cigarettes were banned. Joe Camel was sent to pasture somewhere in the middle east and new warning labels basically stating you're going to die if you touch this box were placed on all tobacco product. The result? In my very unscientific observation over the past week the verdict is - a ton of young smokers. When I write 'young' I mean teenage young. I've seen more young smokers in the past week than I have in a long time. Several were lined up outside the fence at Freedom Fest. A bunch more were lighting up at the Milton fireworks. The most ironic smoker wasn't a teen but an older gentleman sitting on the ground after finishing the triathlon in Janesville yesterday. He was inhaling like it was his best cigarette ever. Yikes.
I don't disagree with the government banning the ads, removing the cartoon characters and Nascar adding a sub-par cellular service as a title sponsor but I personally feel the responsibility is with the teens. Joe Camel didn't tell me to smoke. I received information from my parents, teachers and friends (some of those friends said smoke). I took personal responsibility even as a teen NOT to smoke. The day that sealed the deal was when Mr. Murray got up in front of a full assembly at Marshall Jr. High and shared his story.
Maybe it was just the amount of teens in one area for events but the smoke from the high number of puffing teens was alarming. Who is to blame for this generation smoking? The gum and cartoons are gone.
Are you seeing the same thing?
Steve Knox was born and raised in Janesville before landing back in the city later in life. This Generation X guy writes on Janesville and beyond. Steve is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.