A wave of "retribution" against smokers, drunken drivers and others whose actions are seen as a public health threat could spread to AIDS victims by the next decade, says Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.
"Such a response would be tragic, but not unexpected to the health profession," Koop said Friday.He cited the recent passing of laws to segregate smokers and public "retribution against drunk drivers, teenagers who become pregnant, drug addicts and wife beaters."
The anti-smoking attitude, he said, is being expressed in the adoption of laws setting up no-smoking areas in restaurants and banning smoking from entire office buildings and workplaces.
"These are examples of public retribution exercised against smokers," he said, also telling his audience, "Most Americans would like to see all smokers stop."
And, he said, it is possible that the American people, "already traveling the road of retribution," will extend retribution to AIDS victims in the 1990s, "when the annual health bill for the disease reaches $5 billion."
The challenge to health professionals, he said, will be to move reaction to more responsive, productive and tolerant attitudes toward those with AIDS.