Michelle Wiebach of the Cal State Fullerton Daily Titan wrote yesterday about the participation of our favorite clueless Supervisor Shawn Nelson in a program to support American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The name of the program however clouds an otherwise good idea with thick tobacco smoke.
The thick woody aroma of cigar smoke flows through the air on this breezy Sunday afternoon. Families and friends of United States Marines walk towards and gather near Vintage Cigars in Santa Ana in front of a row of waving American flags and portraits of loved ones.
The name of the event, â€œCigars for Heroes,â€ can fool anyone. When I hear â€œcigarsâ€ I think of old men smoking in a lounge room with a glass of scotch in one hand and a fat, juicy cigar in the other.
This event is to remember fallen loved ones, celebrate troops and send them care packages to cheer them up.
These troops have been overseas on shifts that can last for over a year. Many of them look forward to receiving care packages of general toiletries and snacks, but those things are expected. Cigars? Now cigars are a treat.
â€œFrom the guys we talked to, when you get a box of cigars, youâ€™re like a king for a week,â€ said Shawn Nelson, Orange County Supervisor.
Nelson blows out a puff of heavy smoke. â€œWe can send them cigars. They get to enjoy one of the luxuries of life.â€
â€œWeâ€™re sending them (troops) an Orange County flag so they can take a picture while theyâ€™re smoking their cigars,â€ said Steve Spernak, who coordinated the event.
The picture will then be sent back to family and friends in the states and will also be in Cigar Aficionado magazine.
The care packages will help the troops overseas feel less homesick and hopefully surprise them with their favorite indulgences.
â€œThis is something special. You get a cigar, itâ€™s handmade, they know itâ€™s something special to them,â€ Nelson said. â€œIt takes 45 minutes to an hour to smoke and itâ€™s something to help them relax.â€
Relax? How about die a slow painful death from lung cancer, cancer of the lips, mouth and throatÂ or other tobacco caused disease?
I’m reminded on this bit from George Carlin; Warning, it’s not safe for work, but I ask you, what image pops into your head as you listen to Carlin?Â http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwDDxZWHZAQ
US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have been reported to smoke at twice the rate of other Americans. Even after leaving the service, many veterans continue to smoke as the prevalence of smoking among veterans has been reported to be 27% during 2003 to 2007, and military smoking is strongly associated with increased lifelong cigarette consumption. Such high levels of smoking have led to significant costs to the Department of Defense. The costs of smoking among US military health care system beneficiaries have been estimated to be more than $900 million per year in 1995, with $584 million in direct health care costs and $346 million in lost productivity among active duty personnel.
So Fourth District SupervisorÂ Shawn Nelson wants to support our troops by encouraging them to smoke. I can see his new campaign slogan already, â€œA Cigar in Every Pocket.â€ Brilliant Shawn, why donâ€™t you just send the troops cyanide capsules instead? It would work faster and save the taxpayers a lot of money.
So much for Shawn Nelson’s image of being a positive role model for kids. Maybe his next mission will be to provide…