The other day I was watching a documentary about the 1990s genocide in Rwanda, a time when approximately 500,000 - 1 million people were killed while America and the rest of the world stood by and didn't intervene. It was truly a sad, tragic and shocking event in history, and one that could have been easily prevented by intervention.
As soon as the genocide began, the media quickly swooped in, reporting on the whole story, laying blame, and showing innumerable pictures and videos of the dead victims strewn throughout the countryside. This genocide fostered tremendous outrage at our leaders for years afterwards because we had the ability to stop the murders of so many innocent men, women, and children, but did nothing about it instead.
So then, why isn't the same amount of public outrage expressed when 400,000 - 500,000 Americans are killed each year by smoking? This is by far a higher number of deaths, just as shocking, just as horrible, and just as easily preventable as the Rwanda genocide.
Many of us will assume it's because of the vast sums of money the tobacco industry uses to buy the power and influence needed to cover it up. History has proven time and time again that corrupt people would sell their grandmother's soul for a few pieces of silver. That's a given.
But, I also think it's because there hasn't been the same amount of in-depth effort being used to report the graphic extent of the tragedy of smoking. It's difficult to "visually" report the vast number of dead victims of tobacco abuse. Seeing the hundreds of thousands of dead bodies lying around the countryside during the Rwanda genocide had an effect on people to "do something" to help stop the killing, and to ensure that it doesn't happen again.
But, in American, we hide the victims of tobacco abuse. They die slowly, spending their last days on Earth in private - in their homes, in hospitals, or in other facilities - hidden away from public view. We may read or hear about the vast number of smoking deaths, but without seeing those smokers dead or dying in front of us, it doesn't have the same impact.
So, I'm reposting this disturbingly graphic video PSA because it clearly defines the consequences of long-term smoking and the realities behind a nicotine addiction.
Smoking-induced emphysema is truly a gruesome and horrible way to die, especially when it can be so easily prevented. This video makes an impact on me. Hopefully, it'll make an impact on others to change their attitudes toward our well-hidden, and continuing, smoking-induced genocide.
Source: NYC Health: Tobacco Control