So, I have been very quiet online because internet access has been sporadic at best in my apartment complex despite having a lease agreement that has that included in the services to be rendered. I have been forced to either use my phone or services at my school to do any thing I have to do online.
What have I been up to….? I have so much to share…
The other day, I was at a little grocery store near where I live and this guy started following me. I moved to one aisle he was there, I moved to the next aisle and there he was, I moved to the outside aisle and he was there and then I kept on making these movements and he kept on following me. Suddenly, I felt as though I was in New York where many times as a person of color, you are monitored when you go into the store, I was very angry and I stopped and looked at him, looked into his eyes and said, “‘why are you following me around?’. ‘I don’t like it.’. He was shocked, maybe because he didn’t expect to be confronted or maybe it was because his intentions were innocent and I misinterpreted. He apologized and left the store. Then, I knew that he was a customer who probably had been trying to garner the courage to say,’hello’ and I just messed that up…Boo HOO HOO…LOOOOL! Maybe, that wasn’t meant to be. Yes. That was interesting. On another note…..
I love my policy class. It is a class that brings together all kinds of people in the medical field and other fields and we look at public health from different lenses. For the past two weeks, medical doctors have been on the hot seat, a lot of the articles that we have been discussing have to do with doctors who might be behaving in unethical ways in their practice and billing with particular emphasis on specialist doctors. But, one thing I have definitely learnt is the importance of checks and balances, you can’t assume that because one has a particular kind of training, that the person will always behave in a way that is ethical and is for the greater good; they might be pushed by economic reasons to do unethical things or things that go slightly into the grey area. To all the medical doctors in my class, particularly the specialists, sowey,……:-)
Yesterday, we were discussing the tobacco industry in my class and how the tobacco industry is extremely powerful in this country (USA). The question became how do we control this industry? Is there a need for control? The aim of this control is to get people to stop smoking, so that they can live healthier lives. Someone brought up the recommendation that if the price of cigarettes are increased, then those in lower income communities will be priced out of purchasing it . Because, they can’t afford it, they will automatically be healthier. Of course, since people will not purchase these item, then the industry will be forced to close down, lessen production or move to a country that might be accepting. It is an interesting concept but in my opinion, quite unrealistic and seems paternalistic. Paternalism stems from attempting to make decisions for someone or people because you feel that a) they do not understand or have the ability to understand b) they are incapable of making the right decisions (your decision). Basically in paternalism, you become the all knowing one.
Tobacco is addictive. When you are addicted to something, you will always find ways to get that thing that you believe you need. There are many things that realistically should be priced out of low and lower income communities but they aren’t. In fact, some might argue that many luxury items are often found more in low and lower income communities which raises the question about priorities and why, many aren’t investing in the right things. That will take us into the issue of socialization and community expectations but I digress.
Back to his solution and I say that If someone from a lower income community wants cigarettes they will definitely purchase it. Moreover, his comment makes it seem that those from higher income community do not use cigarettes but they do. So, what’s the plan for them? Furthermore, like cocaine and it’s cheap alternative which is crack, when you manage to price something out of the market for a community of people that feels they need it, there will always be a way to come up with a cheaper alternative. Often times, these cheaper alternatives are often more dangerous.
I will end on a personal note by stating that when I was younger, a friend of mine was very passionate about controlling tobacco use. I was not as passionate as she was on this issue for several reasons but the main one was the issue of freedom of choice. My belief was this, i.e, if I go out of my way to warn you, to tell you that the risk of getting lung cancer is increased with this product, you see people are dying from lung and other cancers from using a particular product, everywhere is littered with advertisement and information about the dangers of this product and you make that choice to purchase that product and use it. Then, my dear you are on your own. You made that choice to walk that path. I believe that is called autonomy. In fact, at one point in my life, I wanted to work for the tobacco industry because it really made no sense to me , why people will blame an industry that has gone out of its way to warn you about the dangers of its product? But, fortunately, that need to work for that industry is gone. I hate cigarettes. I have never smoked it and will never smoke it. But, I still believe in the freedom of choice. I also believe that smokers should not use their choice to take away my need to have clean air. Basically, smokers – smoke at home, behind closed doors because some of us are allergic to many things and smoke could be one of them.
On that note, I hope to explore my historical community this weekend. I learnt we have a couple of museums around here…
Till next time,