Anthony “Tony” Stokes is a retired US Navy officer who was the director of the Office of Naval Research.
In 2012, he co-authored the first major study of tobacco use, called “The Adverse Effects of Tobacco.”
It was a seminal study, but it didn’t come out until 2015.
That’s when, in an interview with Mashable, Stokes said that tobacco use is a sign that things are changing in the world.
“It’s a signal that the world is becoming more accepting and less discriminating,” he said.
“If you go back to the early days of tobacco, smoking was considered an acceptable activity, and then as it was being legalized in the United States, it became a lot more socially acceptable to smoke.”
Stokes noted that the rise of marijuana legalization has also resulted in a drop in smoking, as people have realized that it’s not bad for you.
But smoking isn’t the only sign of change.
“The smoking rate has fallen from over 30 percent in the 1970s to under 10 percent today,” Stokes continued.
“That’s a very big deal.”
Tobacco use is also trending upward.
“A recent survey showed that among those in their early 30s and 40s, more than half had used tobacco,” he explained.
“So the trend is not a good sign.”
So how does that happen?
According to Stokes, there’s a lot to it.
“As a society, we have the same attitudes towards smoking as we did 50 years ago,” he added.
“We have a perception that cigarettes are not healthy, and it’s been ingrained into us that smoking is bad for your health.”
Stokers said that even in places like the US, where cigarettes are banned, many of the people who smoke are young and overweight.
“People think, ‘Oh, these are not so bad, these aren’t so bad,'” Stokes explained.
Smoking is not just an issue for people in their 30s or 40s.
“You have the very old people, you have the young people, and you have people who are working in the manufacturing sector, who are smoking,” he continued.
So smoking isn, in fact, an indicator of what’s changing.
“And we’re seeing a lot of things that are changing,” Stoke added.
The smoking rate is dropping, and tobacco use isn’t just declining.
“Even in places where cigarettes have been banned, there are a lot fewer smokers,” Stokers explained.
And Stokes also noted that even though smoking rates are decreasing, the number of people who actually smoke remains the same.
Stokes added that people who think smoking is a bad thing can get turned off by the idea of smoking, which is a common misconception.
“There are people who say, ‘I just don’t like smoking, and I don’t want to have to see my friends get stoned on a Friday night,'” he said, noting that these types of people don’t know how to handle tobacco properly.
“What you need to do is understand that smoking doesn’t kill people,” Stiles explained.
He continued: “We’re all trying to prevent people from getting stoned.
And we all need to work together to stop people from smoking.
We’re trying to make our cities safer.
And so I think it’s all in the context of understanding that smoking, if it kills people, is a problem.”
Stoking also noted the importance of recognizing that tobacco is a medical product and not something that should be marketed to kids.
“To be honest, I’m more of an advocate for the younger generation than the older generation,” he told Mashable.
“I think the people of our generation are the ones that have the biggest stake in the future of our country.
And I think we need to be better stewards of the future.
I think that we need a much broader discussion about how we’re going to be able to make this work for the generations ahead.”
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