Thursday, January 19, 2006

Questions For Smokers

First of all, I don't hate smokers. Really. It's gonna sound like I do, but I don't. Some of my most favorite people happen to smoke. And all of them are very considerate when smoking, at least in my presence. They have the wherewithall to blow smoke in another direction and some hold the lit cigarette above the heads of those around them. And for that, I thank them for respecting my space.

Again, don't hate smokers, but I do hate smoking. And with all the negatives, I have to wonder why people smoke at all. With cigarette ads long pulled from television and print ads, and a smoking ban inside public places being enforced in Chicago, as it has already been done in many other cities across the country and the world, not to mention outdoor public spaces like beaches.

SIDEBAR: I have a similar opinion about anyone catching HIV these days. I know accidents happen sometimes and I know people will misrepresent. But anyone who is out there having unprotected sex with strangers (and yes, that guy that you met in the bar 4 hours ago but feel a connection with is STILL a stranger) is just plain crazy. Getting HIV is a shame, but asking for it is just lunacy.
So I ask these questions - not to be confrontational, but to seriously question why. If I could get an intelligent answer to these questions, say an answer that would convince me to start smoking myself, then perhaps it might all make sense:

1) First of all, I have to wonder why smoking is even legal given the fact that not only can you die from it, you can kill other people as well?

2) Is the craving to smoke a cigarette so intense that you can't wait four seconds for the doors on the train to open before lighting up?

3) Why do you light your cigarette in the lobby of the building, or just inside the door, rather than wait until you are outside, as the law requires?

4) If smoking is banned in the workplace, how are people allowed to smoke in automobiles (cops, cab drivers, trucker drivers) that are owned by the employer?

5) Do smokers realize how bad they smell when sitting in front of/next to/behind you, no matter if it's in the bus, train, restaurant or movie theatre?

6) Knowing that you can get lung, throat, mouth, esophogeal and larynx cancer, as well as heart disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis from smoking, is it really worth the risk?

7) Do smokers realize that no amount of gum, mint, or breath spray will masquerade the smell of nicotine?

I know these questions sound like I am judging, but I really just would like decent answers to them in order to understand.

The main reason for this post is actually to share this story: Back when I was young, I was in a restaurant with my friend Curt. Curt was saucy and a spitfire and one of those true "I just say what I think" types. Seated at the table next to us were four women, two of whom were smoking (back then there weren't separate seating areas). With cigarette smoke billowing into his face, Curt turned to the table and said, "Excuse me, could you put that thing out,the smoke is getting in my face?" One woman drolly responded, "Well I can't help where it goes" and turned back to her table. Curt looked at me, made a mean face, and then I saw the lightbulb go on over his head. He leaned over to me and said, "Watch this" and then let out a loud 5-second fart.

As the women all turned with disgust and looked at us, Curt simply said, "Well I can't help where it goes." I was in awe! And as we got up to leave, he turned to the table and said, "Well at least you won't get cancer from me".