Monday, February 26, 2007

Eat Your Heart Out, Dr. Bloomberg

Remember Jeanne Calment, the world's "longest-living" woman? At the tender age of 122, Calment passed away a lifelong smoker. Now, another centenarian -- Hong Kong's 107-year-old Chan Chi -- is being probed for his secrets to longevity.

To the horror of public-health impresarios everywhere, tobacco abstinence is not among them. Indeed, he still smokes. He did, however, credit the sexually abstinent life he's led since his wife's passing when he was just 30. (Whether this is a reasonable trade-off is, I suspect, in the eye of the withholder.)

These stories, and many more like them, prove that smoking is not prohibitive of a healthy, long life. It's a habit ripe for abuse, no doubt. But smoking bans, and the rhetoric used in backing them, unfailingly abjure even minimal tobacco use as unhealthy. This, quite obviously, is simply not true.

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