No more ifs, only butt

  • Rajiv Ahuja, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Apr 08, 2015 18:57 IST

A “new finding” has come out that smoking does not cause cancer and, hence, is not injurious to health. My father, a passive smoker in his 70s, is agitated, since he disagrees with the research. I have tried to reason with him that data re-processing often churns out new facts to challenge our old beliefs.

In the early 1960s, as a small boy standing at sweet-maker’s shop, I noticed his hand go into the boiling oil in the deep-fry pan by accident. He let a shriek and put his hand in a bucket of cold water quickly. Next morning in school, I told my friends that the uneducated fellow would suffer, since we were taught during those days not to pour water on burns.

After 40 years, we teach our children to do just the opposite.

In the early 1960s, we moved from Ambala to Ranchi, where my father had found a better job. There, we adopted some of the practices of Bengalis and Biharis. One was to do all the cooking in mustard oil instead of ghee. When my grandfather in Ambala came to know, he sent us a newspaper clipping of a report that mustard oil was bad for the heart. We switched to groundnut oil, which was the favourite of Marathi families mainly those days. A few years later, my grandfather sent us another clipping that mustard oil was good for the heart; and now, it is said to be the best.

The same is with desi ghee, a strict no-no a few years ago and now back in our kitchens. Dried fruits, walnuts especially, which used to increase bad cholesterol until a few years ago, now are a rich source of good cholesterol.

Moderate drinking is now good for health, though I haven’t understood why only for men. Poor women and children!

My dad refuses to agree, but I am convincing him that there is no harm in smoking. I am a non-smoker but I have enjoyed reading cigarette advertisements in magazines during childhood. One depicted a model with a cigarette between his lips, making smoke rings, with the caption: “A good cigarette to the last puff.” A foreign cigarette brand used to air its jingle on Radio Ceylon. Giant hoardings of tobacco brands were all over the market. That’s a bygone era, but even now our media can earn good revenue, if certain rules of promotion are relaxed.

Only a few people smoke in public place, nowadays; but with the new “research”, who knows, the trend might change to smoking with pride, and states might lift the ban. This could continue until someone churns the data again to prove that smoking causes cancer indeed.

The writer is an accounts professional in Parwanoo

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