josh rosner


In Australian Culture and Society on February 6, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Here’s a truth that is self-evident: smoking – period – is wrong. It is stupid. It is dangerous. It potentially places more lives in jeopardy than only that of the smoker. It is massive burden to the public health system.

A woman who smokes knowing she is pregnant is, in my book, engaging in criminal behaviour. She is knowingly and wilfully endangering another life and she should face a legal penalty. A person who drives reckless, endangering another life, faces prosecution and potential jail time. If I threaten another person with a weapon, I face prosecution. If I peddle illicit drugs to another person, especially children, same outcome. If I threaten to burn down someone’s house, same outcome. In the United States all I have to do is publicly mutter the words, “I hate the president and I wish he was dead,” and my life will change irrevocably.

Cigarettes are a legal drug. That they are legal does not mean the user is without responsibility to act lawfully and morally. It is legal to buy a steak knife, but in the hands of the insane, it is a perfectly effective weapon with which to threaten someone.

I listened to a Chrissie Swan’s so-called ‘confession’ on her radio program that she has smoked while knowing she is six months pregnant with her third child. I’ll say it again: a woman who smokes while knowing she is pregnant should be prosecuted for wilfully endangering another life.

Although Swan has garnered considerable support – adjectives like ‘heroic’ and ‘courageous’ have been bandied about as if she dived into crocodile-infested waters to save a small child (only to then light-up, no doubt) – two things struck me while listening to her sobs from my car radio.

First, it sounded rehearsed and as if she was reading a prepared text. Although her tears and anguish were undoubtedly genuine, the language she used – “I was confident that I could do it, but I couldn’t do it. I just failed and failed, time after time” – sounded calculated; like the way a politician spins bad news. It gave me the impression that she cared more about managing her public image than she did for truth, honesty, the search for redemption or even the welfare of her unborn child.

Second, as Swan made clear during the broadcast, her decision to publicly air the ‘confession’ arose only due to unfortunate circumstances: she was snapped by paparazzi smoking a cigarette in her car. Swan made clear in the broadcast that she knows smoking to be wrong and smoking while pregnant especially wrong. And yet, had she not been publicly caught out and then sought to manage the potential media fallout, she would never have made the ‘confession’ and certainly never stopped smoking while pregnant.

Smoking while pregnant is wrong. There is no grey area. It’s clear-cut. Nonetheless, Chrissie Swan now deserves – in fact needs – appropriate support to stop smoking while she is pregnant. If she does not do it voluntarily, it should be forced upon her in the same way that the state can sanction the most mentally ill in our society or force drug addicts into rehab.

This issue has nothing to do with her being a woman (beyond nature dictating that it is the woman who carries the child) and nothing to do with her being a ‘celebrity’ photographed against her will by photographers.

Chrissie Swan is a drug addict endangering another life. She should be treated as such.

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