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Letter: Beatles not responsible for glamorizing smoking

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of Daily Journal.

I am writing in response to Nancy Voris’ letter in the Jan. 21 Daily Journal.

Overall, I agree that we need to help reduce the number of smokers, here in Johnson County and throughout the entire country. What I don’t understand is why Ms. Voris used The Beatles as her example of how smoking “... was immediately adopted into our youth culture.”

Smoking has been a part of our culture since before World War I. Just watch any movie made from before “talkies” up through as late as the 1990s, and you’ll see smoking as part of the lifestyle of the characters. Modern movies continue to show characters smoking although not nearly as often, thank goodness.

The Beatles were by no means responsible for making smoking “glamorized” to the youth at that time — they were already surrounded by smokers in their parents, grandparents and most of their relatives smoking, not to mention their favorite Hollywood stars.

I also find it interesting that Ms. Voris talks about the year 1964 as being the “... golden anniversary ...” of the first surgeon general’s report on how bad smoking is for you and when the Beatles became famous in this country. But she doesn’t mention that another famous icon, John Wayne, was first diagnosed with lung cancer in 1964 and became a major advocate against smoking.

That year and beyond, Mr. Wayne recorded several service spots for the American Cancer Society about the dangers of smoking. Yul Brynner also made a long TV commercial about the hazards of smoking that he allowed to be released after his death in which he actually named it as the reason for his death. In 1965, Walt Disney died from lung cancer at the age of 65.

The list of famous people who died from cancer caused by smoking is a long one. George Harrison is only one of many “stars” that spoke out against smoking.

I’m not sure why The Beatles were used as such an example, but there are many others that Ms. Voris could have used. Better yet, I think her letter could have been much shorter and more to the point about what’s available to help smokers quit and to encourage them to do so, without dragging the Fab Four into it.

Alix Mattingly


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