Tobacco Free Florida

Photo credit: Tobacco Free Florida Facebook page
This is the image used by Tobacco Free Florida in its attempt to scare smokers into quitting with the possible prospect of Ostomy. Photo credit: Tobacco Free Florida Facebook page. Click link for more. *Edit to add: Tobacco Free Florida has taken down this image from its Facebook page. It is still on their Twitter @tobaccofreefla *

I saw this and thought, ‘Wow! That’s a great big bucket of nonsense right there.’  I actually had to look at it twice to make sure I was reading it correctly.  I get what’s happening.  Tobacco Free Florida is trying to discourage smoking.  But the attempt is cringe worthy.  Making a point and doing it accurately in this instance are two very different things.  One is credible and truthful.  The other uses fear tactics and over exaggeration to sway the reader.

Yes, smoking can lead to colorectal cancer.  However, not all with colorectal cancer require Ostomies.  There are so many treatment options available that Ostomy is frequently temporary or unnecessary.  And for those that require permanent Ostomy, it has saved their lives.  Ostomy is not the bad guy, cancer is.

This campaign is holding up Ostomy as a negative consequence of smoking.  As if one would stop smoking this instant because of an Ostomy bag.  Highly unlikely.  If I were to count the negative consequences of smoking, an Ostomy seems minimal when held up against lung cancer, stroke, heart attack, and C.O.P.D. which recently took our beloved Leonard Nimoy.  Deadly.  And those are just a few.  Ostomies are not deadly.

Ostomies save lives every single day.  To shame the very tool that would save future cancer survivors is wrong, uneducated, and extremely dangerous.  What will you tell the person who actually needs an Ostomy, but won’t get one, because you made it a big scary thing to be avoided at all cost?  Because those are the exact people I help all the time.  Please hear me when I say, you are doing a huge disservice to those you profess to want to help.  Villainizing Ostomies is not the way to go.

And the caption “Do you know what this is? You probably will if you’re diagnosed with cancer in your colon or rectum.”  is a sideways swipe at those who smoke as a ‘This is your Scary future if you don’t stop.  Ostomies are Bad and Undesirable.  Smoke and you’ll have to get one.’  Adult boogie man stories with Ostomy as the monster under the bed.  Shaming and scaring with a medical appliance.

Speaking of medical appliances…. If I may point out, the bag in the middle is a urostomy bag.  For urine.  Which comes from the bladder.  Not the bowel.  I know smoking can lead to bladder cancer wherein a urostomy bag may be a solution.  But as you were colon/rectum specific, this adds to the idiocy of this campaign.

Not. Cool.

This campaign is not helpful.  Not at all.  It is poorly though out, threatening versus helpful, cutting to those who live every day thanks in large part to their Ostomies, and it’s willfully ignorant.

No thank you Tobacco Free Florida.

Try again.

Because I’m not having it.

*Disclaimer – I am a Permanent Ostomate due to Crohn’s Disease.  In addition I do not now, nor have I ever used tobacco products.  If I had my way everyone would be able to honestly say the same.  I have seen the destruction that all types of tobacco products have on a family.  Because an entire family is harmed, not just the addict.  I do not support smoking or tobacco use.  Its ravages, guilt, and extreme pull on a person have been purposefully designed to be that way by an industry that still operates and I wonder why.  I have seen loved ones try, fail, and try again to quit.  They are strong, in a way I could never fully understand, for having the courage to struggle and fight to win against addiction.*

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