Friday, January 27, 2017
After 50 years and billions spent to wean Americans from tobacco, a recent study shows that 1 in 4 citizens still use some form of the plant. Cigarette smoking has declined but the use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed. This shows the limits of PR. People can be persuaded to go only so far before they confront addiction and behavior -- a most difficult thing to do. Persuasion can't change habits. It can provide strong reasons for doing so, but it cannot substitute for willpower. That comes from the individual. I can recall many years ago while working on a psychiatric ward an incident that proved the case. A man dying of emphysema, caused by smoking, was placed in the locked section, so he could not get access to cigarettes. Although he was wheezing and barely alive, he still wanted another one. He was content with smoking himself to death. No amount of persuasion can change a situation like this. Ultimately, PR belongs to the individual and whether he or she chooses to believe an argument and then act on it. PR can never force a conclusion.