June 2007 Vol. 105 No. 8 THE REVIEW

Secondhand Smoke Signals from Prison

Scott C. Wilcox

Setting: present day, a prison somewhere in the United States. The camera focuses on a lone inmate, Sheila Thomas, passing time in her cell. The soundtrack captures the dissonant rhythm of her sporadic coughing. The camera pans across neighboring cells, showing twenty fellow inmates smoking. Between them, the inmates simultaneously consume a pack of cigarettes, filling the air with toxic chemicals. The scene shifts to the prison’s infirmary, where a line of inmates awaits medical treatment. Text scrolls onto the screen: “Approximately 115 inmates die each year as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke. By contrast, in 2006, only 53 inmates were legally executed in the United States.”

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