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".


  1. >>>>
    Ok Dop.
    I concur with your comments and questions as to why people need to smoke.

    On the lighter side (no pun intended), Curt's my hero. A quick thinker and definitely saucy. I'll have to remember that response. I know if I were one of those ladies smoking, I would have definitely got Curt's flatulant message and his parting remark.

  2. 1). The same argument can be said about drinking, I think it's a slippery slope and if you're going to cut out all substances that could theoretically kill you and others around you, you may as well go whole hog.

    2). I agree, that's bad manners, although it IS hard to light a ciggarette outside in the wind

    3). See #2.

    4). Because the employers don't reprimand those that smoke while on the job. If their pay was in question I'm pretty sure a lot less people would walk that line.

    5). Usually they're used to it, besides smoking deadens your sense of smell and taste so probably they don't realzie.

    6). Sometimes it's a cost benefit analysis, A truck driver for instance who has a 18 hour haul uses a ciggarette as one of his only respites from the monotony of his life/job and isn't necessarily thinking about 20 years down the road. Besides, knowing you could get cirrhosis of the liver from drinking doesn't stop you does it?

    7). Nicotine doesn't smell, it's the burning of the leaves plus the tar involved, the amount of nicotine is actually very trace in most ciggarettes as .001 ounces of pure nicotine would actually kill you. (not trying to be a dick I swear)

    Honestly, I'm all for live and let live, if an establishment has a set area for smoking and you choose to sit in that area, be prepared for smoke in your face. If they shouldn't be smoking there then they should respect the rules of the establishment.

  3. For me, this issue is about addiction. Smoking, drinking, sex, gambling, overeating, et al, are all just symptoms of a larger issue. Logic is a great attribute, but when it is overridden by addiction, no amount of logic in the world will stop addictive, albeit, self-destructive behavior.

  4. Dale, thanks for your thoughtful points. I do have to disagree with you on number 1 though. I don't equate drinking with smoking. True, both can be the cause of second-hand death, however no one ever goes to jail for smoking and driving. I don't see the correlation between the two. As well, bartenders have the right to stop serving a drinker who has had too much, but no one stops a smoker who is on his fourth pack of the day. Just a few more points.

    Jay - I don't want us to get too judgmental here. I am simply asking some questions. I am not saying smokers are bad - nor are drinkers, gamblers, overeaters, etc. We all have our thing. But out of all of these things, smoking is the only thing I can see that can directly kill another person.

    More thoughts?

  5. 1. It's a huge money-maker. The state of MN is making 400 million this year off of a 75 cent tax per pack.

    2. Sometimes the cravings are bad, yes. But my answer to #3 also applies here.

    3. Personally, i would never do this.

    4. Maybe it's different in Chicago, but every cab driver i've ridden with who smokes always asks if i mind before he lights up.

    5. Yes. Some smokers just don't care or don't realize how bad they smell. Some, like myself, take pains to ensure they don't smell like an ashtray. (don't smoke in my apartment, etc)

    6. I'm well aware of all the risks. Still unable--unwilling--to quit. I try to be healthy otherwise though: working out, eating well, etc.

    7. I beg to differ!! :)

  6. a.nort - Thanks. There's the question again though - "unable--unwilling--to quit". I can understand the inability to break the habit. Sometimes I dont realize that I am eating at McDonalds until its over, you know? And then I think "why the hell did I just do that??". My question is more the "unwilling" I guess. I personally, would eat better if I just put my mind to it. But what is it about smoking that makes you not WANT to quit doing it?

  7. Dop: Unfortunately with ciggarettes it's a many pronged monster with addiction... these include

    Physical: dependency on chemicals that you've introduced into your body such as nicotine that your body now craves if in deficit.

    Psychological: I know the simple act of bringing a ciggarette to your mouth, inhaling, and bringing it out has many people hooked.... call it an oral fixation.

    Cultural: Many cultures around the world see smoking as something that is sophisticated, grown-up or otherwise acceptable. the U.S.A. is one of the only countries in the world where this is not predominately the case.

    I agree it's a filthy habit with many adverse side-effects, but not an easy one to break. Just Sayin.

  8. Bravo man, I agree 100% with the post. I just find it all disgusting, I try to get friends and family to quit. People that cry its an addiction though, brought it on themselves.

  9. Um, SB, is there an addiction anyone deos NOT bring upon themselves? Curious.

    I have to say while I do not smoke and in spite of the disclaimers otherwise, this all does sound rather judgemental. Smoking is addictive, as in an illness, like alcohol, like drugs. I think I read once that it is an addiction as difficult to break as heroin. It's not always just a matter of not wanting to quit.

    As for the bartender being able to deny service, that's true, but as any good drunk knows, you can always drink at home where there is no last call and no one to cut you off, so it's not like that's any real impediment to the addiction.

    Personally of them all, food is the addiction I least understand. Why would anyone let themselves get fat, let alone obese. And an addiction to food, overeating, can also kill: heart disease, diabetes, etc. What's more, in this country we are all subsudizing the health care of these people through higher insurance premiums and other health care costs and I'd bet dollar per dollar, it costs us each more to subsidize America's obession with food, coupled with a general lack of exercise, than we are for smoking related illnesses.

    Just sayin...

  10. Dop: to answer your question (what is it about smoking that makes you not WANT to quit doing it?)...

    Put simply: i ENJOY it!

  11. I agree, smoking is horrible. It can cause severe emotional imbalance, horrible acne and will turn your liver into a briquette.

    Oh wait, that's steroids. Oops.