(iStock/Getty Images Plus/KalebKroetsch)
BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- When I was a kid, everybody smoked.
Actually, the record shows just over 40 percent of adult Americans smoked, but it felt like everybody did.
They did it everywhere – on airplanes, in hospitals, right in your face at a lunch counter. There was an eight-foot cloud of smoke hanging from the roof of the old Boston Garden during games.
Then came the Surgeon General’s 1964 report on the health impact of smoking, which found that it kills you. And over the years that followed, more evidence surfaced, of the toxic effects of secondhand smoke and the egregious lying of a tobacco industry that didn’t care how many Americans its products killed.
As those facts sank in, the government began cracking down, forcing the killers to come clean about their poison, banning TV ads and creating more and more smoke-free spaces.
But the real cultural change came when people began taking matters into their own hands.
The death peddlers had spent decades and millions making tobacco use seem cool, but for some time now the message from your fellow Americans has been that it is definitely uncool.
Smokers are shamed, ostracized, lectured and shunned.
And that cultural backlash has worked.
The AP reports only 14 percent of us still smoke, the lowest figure ever reported. Cigarette sales are down, and electronic cigarettes are helping more smokers quit. Teenage smoking is also way down, to less than ten percent.
There’s a moral to this story: you can change human behavior and put exploiters out of business by getting the facts and acting on them.
We need more of that, not less.
You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. Listen to his previous podcasts on iHeartRadio.
Listen to Jon's commentary: