Santa’s Given Up Smoking; It’s More Deadly Than COVID; Children’s Hero Shouldn’t Be Promoting Deadly Habits
Santa Claus Has Given Up Smoking, So Should You
WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 22, 2020) - All young children should be told – by parents, grandparents, and by the media – that, despite what they may see in pictures or hear in retellings of the classic Christmas poem, “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” Santa Claus has given up smoking.
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This reminder comes from public interest law professor John Banzhaf, the antismoking crusader widely credited with persuading Kris Kringle to give up this deadly habit, and to set a good example for millions of children and their parents.
Banzhaf also suggests that, since even young children have heard something about how dangerous the coronavirus is, parents should also tell them that smoking kills many more people; with some 315,000 deaths in the U.S. from the deadly virus, but about 480,000 annual deaths - including more than 41,000 among nonsmokers from secondhand tobacco smoke - as a result of even-more-deadly smoking.
Toddlers’ perceptions of Santa are very important and can have a very long term influence, says Banzhaf, noting the outrage triggered by a billboard showing the jolly one puffing away on an e-cigarette, the major controversy over a news anchor’s claim that Santa is white, or the great consternation which occurs whenever a mall Santa is seen by youngsters smoking during a break.
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“Long before they can articulate it - or in some cases before they can even talk - children see an idol their parents lavish with praise, with a pipe in his mouth, and draw the obvious conclusion that smoking is OK,” says Banzhaf, noting that the attitudes of millions of children towards smoking were influenced by candy cigarettes, and by pictures of rugged cowboys smoking Marlboro cigarettes, sophisticated women smoking Virginia Slims, and happy young couples smoking together on clean white sandy beaches.
It's also why tobacco companies spent so much money to insure that smoking - and, in many cases, even individual brands of cigarettes - were shown in movies for children, including even “The Muppet Movie.”
“That’s why I’m working so hard to get Frosty the Snowman to give up his corncob pipe. Frosty says to tell the children they should never start smoking, because it is so very difficult to quit,” reports Banzhaf.
In 1996, Banzhaf wrote a letter to Santa, modeled on a similar letter he sent to Jack Elrod, the creator of the cartoon character “Mark Trail.”
Just as that earlier letter persuaded Trail to promise his readers that he will never smoke again, Santa responded to Banzhaf, explaining that to protect his own health, as well as the health of Mrs. Claus and the elves, he like Mark had given up his pipe.
Santa also urged parents to follow his example and quit for their own health, or at least not to smoke within a home where there are children.
Only about 100 children and teenagers have died so far from COVID. In stark contrast. as the New York Times reported, "at least 6,200 children die each year in the United States because of their parents' smoking . . . More young children are killed by parental smoking than by all unintentional injuries combined,'' and that parental smoking annually causes over five million serious ailments which add almost five billion dollars to the nation's medical expense costs.
Banzhaf has been called “Mr. AntiSmoking,” “The Man Behind the Ban on Cigarette Commercials,” “One of the Most Vocal and Effective Anti-Tobacco Attorneys,” and “a Driving Force Behind the Lawsuits That Have Cost Tobacco Companies Billions of Dollars.”
Interestingly, even by those who strongly oppose his antismoking activities, Banzhaf is credited with helping Santa to quit. http://bit.ly/1du2snn
Apparently as a result of Banzhaf’s success with Santa, the classic Christmas poem, “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” has been reedited by Santa Claus himself, to remove the words: “The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, / And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.”
The new book is called “Twas the Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century.”