Time to spit out today’s cancerous role models

Perhaps country singer Gretchen Wilson is confused by her status as a role model; it doesn’t mean she should model how to roll a wad of chewing tobacco into her lower lip.

For her recent tobacco promotion, the country singer is now joining an ever-expanding group of not-so-worthy pop idols. Wilson, 32, a role model among teenage females who frequent her concerts, has been flashing a can of chewing tobacco to the crowd during her recent performances of new song “Skoal Ring,” a song simply about the wonders of chew.

Glamorizing chewing tobacco to an audience of impressionable young fans goes a long way to undermine every anti-tobacco campaign created to convince youths to avoid the cancer-causing habit. On stage, Wilson’s gestures with her small can of tobacco may seem innocent and playful, but they can be detrimental.

The female population has been a growing victim of lung cancer for decades. About 21 percent of U.S. females are smokers, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, far from the U.S. goal of cutting the number of smokers to 12.5 percent by 2010. Lung cancer rates increased 600 percent among women in the second half of the 20th century, and deaths from lung cancer now significantly outnumbers deaths from breast cancer.

Smokeless tobacco, a more glamorized, if shocking, form of ingesting tobacco, will only continue this trend. This stiff-lower-lip form of tobacco ingestion dramatically increases a person’s chance of getting oral cancer.

Unfortunately, Wilson isn’t the only popular image to be making lousy impressions on adolescents.

The continued, incessant glamorizing of cigarettes in movies, is just part of the problem. Paris Hilton gets famous with an infamous video and simple life, Hugh Grant is caught with a prostitute, sports stars are using steroids and illicit drugs – the list of big name figures making poor decisions seems to be growing in newspaper headlines.

None of these actions should slide without condemnation. Tennessee Attorney General Paul Summers has taken swift aim at Wilson for her in-concert displays, a move that will help put a dark shadow on Wilson’s lower lip. Parents have a role in this culture also, letting kids know that the actions of an idol may not be that actions of a role model.

At least that will give kids something to chew on.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Friday, April 16

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

This Aug. 23, 2020 photo shows a long line of unsold 2020 models charge outside a Tesla dealership in Littleton, Colo.  The European Union is lacking sufficient charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, according to the bloc's external auditor. In a report published Tuesday, April 13, 2021, the European Court of Auditors said users are gaining more harmonized access to charging networks but the EU is still “a long way from reaching its Green Deal target of 1 million charging points by 2025." (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Editorial: Bills’ merger makes clean-driving future possible

Combining two bills will aid the sales of electric vehicles and ensure ample charging stations.

Comment: Build Mukilteo’s NOAA research center to fit budget

A decision to scrap a new station because its bids were over-budget calls for a change in plans.

Comment: Will people trust media when values aren’t shared?

A poll showing how the public views journalistic standards may call for a change in how news is presented.

Comment: Covid ignores borders; public health must as well

A lack of coordination among nations stunted the pandemic response. Those failures can’t be repeated.

FILE - In this undated photo, provided by NY Governor's Press Office on Saturday March 27, 2021, is the new "Excelsior Pass" app, a digital pass that people can download to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Vaccine passports being developed to verify COVID-19 immunization status and allow inoculated people to more freely travel, shop and dine have become the latest flash point in America’s perpetual political wars, with Republicans portraying them as a heavy-handed intrusion into personal freedom and private health choices. (NY Governor's Press Office via AP, File)
Editorial: Vaccine passports can nudge more toward immunity

Used to persuade rather than exclude, the passports could increase access to businesses and venues.

Eric Brossard displays his commemorative Drug Court graduation coin that reads, "I came with hope, worked and learned. I have a new life. A life that I've earned." (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Court ruling requires focus on addiction treatment

A court decision allows for a more effective and affordable solution to substance use disorder.

An architectual illustration shows the proposed Learning Resource Center at Everett Community College. The centerAn architectual illustration shows the proposed Learning Resource Center at Everett Community College. The center would replace the college's Libary Media Center, built in 1988. The Senate capital budget proposal allocates $48 million for its construction, while the House budget includes no funding for it. (Courtesy of Everett Community College) would replace the college's
Editorial: Capital budget a bipartisan boost for communities

House and Senate proposals are substantial and needed, but final talks should secure an EvCC project.

Editorial cartoons for Thursday, April 15

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Most Read