It’s beginning to become quite obvious that the world is now a crowded place – unless you live in some remote area where no one is around to displease you with their opinionated version of how the world was created. It’s hard not to turn a corner without someone lambasting you with some ideological or theological theme of the day, their Technicolor politics or with some pet concern. Luckily, the forest and streams have another ideal climate for inner debating on what lure to use, which time of the day is best to catch the big ones, what mosquito repellent is most effective and non-toxic.

If only life were that simple.

Some issues are worth fighting over. Like enjoying a casual smoke in the living room after feasting on succulent French fries and artificial gravy. Or a rare hamburger that turns white with grease when it cools off into a leftover.

Yes, the dog day afternoons of summer are nearing, with all the usual indicators, forest fires, halter tops, ice cream stands and menacing thunderstorms. Another is the increasing evidence that smoking outside public places is now the norm – meaning that the air inside is now cleaner than the air outside thanks to rules that protect innocent lungs from being invaded by second-hand smoke carcinogens… casually mixed with bad breath and dirty lingo.

In our own towns, tobacco is still cheap enough to cause collateral damage and the choice of a pack for yourself and a carton for others who wish they could evade the long arm of the taxman is the usual fare of dépanneur shoppers. Yep, tobacco, once considered as a medicine, is now looked as the Indians’ secret weapon. It hasdone too good a job of culling the innocent from the healthy in recent surveys that portray the sacred plant as the culprit in slaying thousands upon thousands of nicotine addicts. I always thought that convincing campaigns marketing a potential poison as an enjoyable pastime and a way of life for profit and the bottom line are the real culprits.

Lining up outside our schools and play grounds are mounds of butts that tell me that the next generation has taken to tobacco consumption seriously and voraciously. I thought that the combinations of dust from dry, unpaved roads with direct and second-hand smoke would make for an unhealthy environment already lined with good intentions to better our lives through our youth.

Surprise! The youth don’t have it as good as we did when we were young, packs of smokes less than five bucks and plenty of sugar in each pop can, larger-size chocolates and yes, paper dollars worth much more than the Americans’ puny version of a buck.

However, all good things come to an end, so our youth must endure the responsibility to right the wrongs of generations of misinformed health practitioners who once believed that the letting of blood was a sure cure for many ailments, including madness and maniacal depression.

Today, youth now know that smoking is unhealthy, but how can you overcome cool images of cool people smoking kool butts? The simple truth is smoking kills many people, yet all smokers are the ones who kill themselves slowly and as surely as the bogeyman who cometh to take your breath away.