What if you were told seventy years ago that Hitler was planning a holocaust that would include the deaths of 6 million Jews, simply because they were Jewish? If it was within your power to keep that from happening, would you? The answer may seem obvious, but 6 million more will die in the coming year, and we can help keep it from happening. A holocaust, of sorts, is happening and it is within our power to do something about it. The question is will we do so.
According to study released by the American Cancer Society, 6 million people next year from cancer, heart disease, emphysema and a range of other smoking-related ills.
“Tobacco accounts for one out of every 10 deaths worldwide and will claim 5.5 million lives this year alone,” the report said. If current trends hold, by 2020, the number will grow to an estimated 7 million and top 8 million by 2030.
I appreciate that we cannot not draw a direct analogy between the systematic destruction of innocent victims by a hate-driven government and its military, with a choice that people make to poison themselves. But I also know that dead is dead and that the number 6 million carries a powerful resonance in the 21st century.
Perhaps it’s time to mobilize around that number and start saving lives. Could there be a more life-affirming way to deal with the collective pain which still fills the hearts of so many people? We aree commanded by the Torah to “choose life” and more than few rabbinic authorities have declared smoking prohibited, so what are we waiting for?
And it you want a more pragmatic approach, how about this: As we continue to do battle over health care in this country, I wonder what would happen if we simply agreed to do everything in our power to end smoking, what would happen. How much money would be saved that could be put back into other health care concerns? How much would the cost of insurance go down, even if not immediately, if we simply put an end to smoking? Would it be enough to preserve profits for those who are primarily concerned with those issues, while making it possible to cover all those who have no health insurance?
It is seventy years ago – at least for the next 6 million and for their loved ones. What will they, and we, do about it?