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Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness

"July 4, 1776. When our Declaration of Independence was signed loyal Americans were of one mind to Protect Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
American WW-II Poster repeating these lines.

More than a year after the American Revolutionary War, the second Continental Congress, on 2nd July 1776, unanimously approved for the creation of an independent United States of America; independent of the Great Britain. The congressional committee selected Thomas Jefferson (later to become the 2nd Vice President and the 3rd President of the United States) to author the Declaration of Independence, as an explanation of the reasons for the declaration by the Congress.

The Declaration of Independence of the 13 states of the United States of America was formally adopted by the Congress on 4th July 1776; the day on which America celebrates its independence.

Jefferson was an philosopher, a statesman, and a lawyer. He crafted the Declaration in an excellent manner:

The second section of the Declaration read:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”

Jefferson knew that a person can never be truly happy; greed usually steps in. He therefore wrote “pursuit of Happiness” instead of “Right to be Happy”.

Well, a side thought: If the nation on its independence declared that all men are created equal, then why did it take a century and a civil war for the abolition of slavery and granting equal status and the rights of like, liberty and pursuit of happiness?

Happiness is a choice, really it is! Like Abraham Lincoln said

“People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be”

Live happy; live long!
Live happy; live long!

The reason: humans are seldom satisfied with what they have, people want more! That ‘want’ is what makes people feel deprived and unhappy!

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi better known as Mahatma Gandhi, the father of India said:

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed”

So be satisfied with and thankful for what you have, be happy and live happy, for life is short, live it now, live it to the fullest! 🙂

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Should tobacco smoking be entirely banned or simply discouraged?

Smoker's questionTobacco smoking has been proven to be injurious to health; it is in fact the single largest preventable cause of death around the world. Tobacco smoke contains drugs and toxic chemicals like nicotine and tar, the former results in addiction, the latter causes long term severe adverse health issues like chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, lung cancer and death. Other chemical compounds and substances like soot, suspended ash, carbon monoxide etc. have their own adverse effects on health. People who once try smoking, get addicted to it, and with trying to quit comes withdrawal symptoms where a person willing to give up smoking feels helpless and troubled, like a fish out of water.

So why do people smoke, and why they are allowed to smoke, and why should it be banned or discouraged? We will start with why they smoke. Tobacco smoking does not just come in form of cigarette, but also as cigars, pipes, hookah, water pipes (sheeshas) and beerih (rolled up tobacco leaves). Over the years, cigarettes have become something like a “fashion statement” and a sign of coolness of the urban youth,. Cigars are an icon of the elite, a symbol of status and prestige. Water pipes and hookahs have become a must for the night life in cities and urban areas, and the the beerih is a tool for the underprivileged to live off with their frustrations and troubles.

The murderous pair: the killer and its accomplice.
The murderous pair: the killer and its accomplice.

Tobacco smoke kills, so why should it not be banned? Most legal experts (hired, in my opinion, by large multinational tobacco firms) argue that every individual has the fundamental right to choose and a freedom of expression. They may be warned about the consequences of their choice, but the choice to smoke, or not to smoke, must be entirely their own.

As a consequence of this argument, the legal systems in most nations allow any sane adult person to smoke, provided the manufacturers of cigarettes and related tobacco products pint a statutory warning that smoking is injurious to health. It was probably overlooked by the lawmakers that tobacco smoke does not just kill the smoker, but those around him/her as well. Suicide is a crime, drug consumption is a crime, homicide or murder is a crime, but why is not tobacco smoking considered a crime? A smoker, by smoking is slowly killing himself/herself (i.e. suicide), he/she is consuming nicotine and other addictive drugs (drug consumption) and is slowly killing others around him/her (murder or homicide). Why do legal systems adopt a dual policy when it comes to tobacco smoking?

The answer to this may lie in the fact that the tobacco industry is the largest or the second largest (second only to telecom, where it is second) tax paying sector in most countries. The lawmakers and legislators cannot afford to loose a large chunk of the revenue. If a bill or legislation is considered to be against the interests of this industry, large bribes and underhand influences prevent such a bill to be passed or discussed in the law making bodies.

Recent laws do provide some sort of protection to the non-smokers like me. Smoking now in most regions, including Pakistan, is strictly prohibited in public places such as streets, parks, roads, shops, public transports, etc. and sale of tobacco and its related products to those under 18 is a criminal offence prosecutable under law. These laws, however, are not as effective as they were intended to be, and hundreds of thousands of people especially children under 18 still take up smoking each day, and smoking continues to be the single largest preventable cause of death.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently classified smoking as a disease, to allow the smokers to avail their health insurance to pay off for the costs associated with quitting of smoking.

It is now probably a matter of time when the public outcry against smoking reaches new heights, and the law makers realize the facts and decide to out rightly ban and outlaw smoking in any and all forms, and consider it to be suicide, homicide, murder and drug consumption.

This article was written as my answer to the topic “Should tobacco smoking be entirely banned or simply discouraged?” given in my General Paper exam. This article has been slightly modified before being published here. The test was graded 17/20 with a comment stating “Strong ideas!”
I may also mention here, that the above article expresses my personal views about tobacco smoking; and I’m proud to state that I never have and never ever intend to smoke in my whole life!

Ahmer Jamil Khan