"I hear people say 'well it's really not a problem anymore is it?' When over one-in-five people smokes and the death tolls and the destruction and the cost is enormous, we have become so accustomed to it that something like one out of five is deemed OK. What is so odd about this is that the poisonous nature of smoking and the addictive nature are so clear, the cost is so high, yet we are relatively indifferent to the magnitude of that threat."
Quinlan suspects that any premature victory celebration in the war on tobacco comes from the generally better educated and wealthier people who don't smoke. "The people I often associate with say there is no smoking," he says.
"None of my friends smoke, but in fact studies clearly show that the poorer you are the more you smoke. The blacker you are the more you smoke. The more mental illness you have the more you really smoke. So it's that invisible underclass that smokes. It is the underclass that has the worse outcomes. That is more than a coincidence. It's cause and effect."
Quinlan says that at some workplaces, the one-in-five people who still smoke should not be surprised if coworkers pressure them to quit or move on. "People won't mind intervening with you and saying 'Hey listen. It's not fair. We are struggling to maintain our benefits and you are literally burning them up. So if you want to do that fine. Just don't work with us anymore please. I don't want to pay your bill,'" he says.