Sunday, July 06, 2008

In Defense of Cigarette Smokers

This morning, like every morning, hundreds of millions of people young and old woke up from a night's rest and smoked their first cigarette. The first one of this day, that is.

They found the nearly empty pack near the television remote control and paired it with the disposable cigarette lighter that somehow ended up on the floor near their children's toys.

Aunt Aileen 022

Each smoker seems to develop a unique style of holding the cigarette, inhaling, and holding the smoke in just long enough to catch that nicotine rush. Every smoker will tell you they do not hold the smoke in their lungs but they all do exactly that. Young girls that smoke try to hold the butt as far away as possible. Men will let the cigarette dangle from their lips.

If you live in a family you will probably step outside on the porch to smoke. Smokers that live alone smoke in their kitchens or in the den in front of the TV. Smokers only do it in the bedroom at night.

Smoking is sexy. John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, and Humphrey Bogart all smoked. Wayne and Bogart died as a result of cigarette smoking. Bogart even had his esophagus ripped out in a vain attempt to save his life. Lauren Bacall quit smoking in 1990 and is still alive today.

Smoking gives you something to do with your hands, smokers tell you. They are planning to quit someday, they all know it is "not good for you." It is rare to encounter the smoker that tells you they smoke too many cigarettes.

Each morning millions of smokers must start their cars and drive to the nearest market to purchase another package of cigarettes. They will tell you that the milk is almost gone or they need coffee or gas for the car. What they need, what they absolutely must have, is that next cigarette. In fact they need a whole package and may even an entire carton of ten packs to feel comfortable living with their addiction.

Like cocaine, heroin, and meth, cigarette smoking is an addiction. Smokers know this too, but they can still go to a local market and buy a pack for seven dollars. Some people will tell you if smoking killed people quickly like meth or heroin the government would have made tobacco illegal years ago. They know smoking can kill people but they are pretty sure smoking will not kill least not today, not this particular cigarette in their hands right now.

Children of cigarette smokers, like their friends, learn to live with the smoke of burning tobacco. Smokers all smoke while they drive long distances, even with their kids sitting on the back seat. Cigarette smokers absolutely hate to ride in the cars of non-smokers.

Among the substances in third-hand smoke are hydrogen cyanide, used in chemical weapons; butane, which is used in lighter fluid; toluene, found in paint thinners; arsenic; lead; carbon monoxide; and even polonium-210, the highly radioactive carcinogen that was used to murder former Russian spy Alexander V. Litvinenko in 2006. Eleven of the compounds are highly carcinogenic. - quoted from a recent New York Times article.

Since they banned smoking in airplanes full of fuel many cigarette smokers decided that it is very unsafe to fly. Now that smoking is banned in public buildings including bars, smokers are getting somewhat desperate about the future of their habit. They blame the government, the cigarette manufacturers, and even their non-smoking friends who rarely seem to come visit them.

Cigarette smokers do not usually want to go for a long walk with you. They have a trick ankle, a sore knee or something else they need to do instead. They will never admit to anyone else that they become short of breath when they try to exercise even a little.

It was once easy to check the Nonsmoker check box on their life insurance policy but now the insurance company makes certain who is a cigarette smoker and who is not. Smokers are required to pay for their habit in many different ways. While it costs less than a dollar to manufacture and market a pack of cigarettes those 20 smokes cost 5, 6 or even 7 dollars in some places. Most of the price of cigarettes goes to pay taxes. Smokers know this and blame the government for making smoking such an expensive habit.

Smokers do not realize that a community that smokes cigarettes needs more fire trucks, more hospital rooms, and more street cleaners. More doctors must go to more medical schools to learn how to keep cigarette smokers alive just a few more months. Tobacco farmers even get a special subsidy check from the government just for growing tobacco on their land.

A big reason health insurance for everyone is so expensive is because so many folks still puff butts. Smokers always make certain they have good group health insurance at their workplace. Employers must now avoid hiring smokers even if they happen to be good at whatever they do.

Smokers have to take more frequent breaks while they work. With the ban on smoking indoors now in place this means a smoker must take the elevator down to the first floor and go outside to have a cigarette or two. Heavy smokers interrupt their work to do this several times every hour. Do you want someone who is certain to develop health problems and cannot work effectively working in your business?

The real costs of cigarette smoking are mostly concealed from everyone except the smokers themselves. They notice the nagging cough. Smokers are aware their raspy voices sound funny. Smokers know their clothes, cars, houses, and bodies stink from smoking. Burn marks can be found everywhere they smoke. Used cars driven by smokers are much harder to clean up and sell. Smokers know all this and other things but they keep smoking more and more cigarettes.

Printed on each pretty cigarette pack is the message, "Smoking can kill you." Smokers try not to read those words while they constantly play with their packs. They would rather not think about the fact that they are committing slow suicide. Some will tell you that you could get killed walking across the road. Others will tell you about a grandfather that lived to be 80 and smoked every day of his life. That grandfather probably lived out in the countryside, away from the cars, the factories, and the many other cigarette smokers. In any event, millions of other grandfathers and grandmothers never got to know their grandchildren. Those people died from smoking cigarettes before their grandchildren were even born.

Tobacco smoke has killed and will kill more people than all the wars put together. Cigarettes recently killed three young people in Easton, Maryland that did not even smoke cigarettes. A young man carelessly tossed a lit cigarette off the back porch, went to bed, and burned the new house down to the ground. Three people died in the fire but not the smoker. He survived knowing that his cigarette killed his friends.

Cigarettes and cigarette lighters burn many houses down every year. People usually die when that happens.

If you smoke your children will probably develop the habit of smoking cigarettes. Think about that for a moment...

In a recent movie, The Bucket List, the character played by Morgan Freeman suddenly learns he is dying of cancer. He slowly lets the smoldering cigarette drop from his fingertips. He is not seen smoking again while he quickly dies during the rest of the movie.

The famous news reporter, Peter Jennings, learned he had lung cancer and subsequently told his audience of millions about his smoking habit. Mr. Jennings said he had quit years ago but started smoking again after the events of September 11, 2001. The multi-millionaire ABC news announcer died from cigarette smoking only months after he learned he had cancer. Like many smokers, Mr. Jennings will never know his grandchildren.

Going to the hospital to watch a friend die from emphysema is not a very pleasant thing to do. Watching a parent, husband, or your child die as a result of cigarette smoking is excruciatingly painful. Dying as a result of cigarette smoking must be incredibly horrible and very, very, painful. An early death from smoking is even more painful than quitting the habit.

Learn more about smoking and the tobacco industry at this link.

Or this New York Times article.


Anonymous said...

Smoking cigarettes is really an expensive habit. The average price per pack of cigarettes, for example, is just about one dollar; people who smoke two packs of cigarettes a day therefore spend $2 per day on their habit. At the end of one year these smokers incur a huge debt.

TH Williams said...

Bahman, You must be referring to the price of cigarettes in the nation where you live. In the United States the price of cigarettes runs from $5 to $7 or more per pack. Most cigarette smokers in North America spend thousands of dollars each year just on the cigarettes. There is also money spent on lighters, damaged clothing, loss of value of a car or house that has been smoked in, higher insurance rates for smokers, lost work hours, increased health care costs, etc.. Smoking is a major expense for everyone except the wealthy.

Anonymous said...

Did you have a recent unpleasant experience that caused you to post such a hateful diatribe against smokers? I cannot remember reading anything recently that is so filled with snide remarks, crude assumptions and outright distortions on the personalities of smokers. Certainly, I know of no smoker who leaves “ … the disposable cigarette lighter … on the floor near their children's toys.” I do not know any smokers who “… absolutely hate to ride in the cars of non-smokers” or have decided that it is “… very unsafe to fly” because smoking has been banned in airplanes, or whose “… non-smoking friends … rarely seem to come visit them”. Most of my smoking friends are happy to go on a long walk, hike or participate in other athletic activities. None have offered up the excuses you noted, such as a “…trick ankle, a sore knee or something else they need to do instead” or because they “…become short of breath when they try to exercise even a little.” None of my smoking friends leave “…burn marks … everywhere they smoke.” While I recognize that your “essay” is purely your opinion, your blanket conclusions on the behaviors of smokers make you look rather foolish. Certainly, your comment that Morgan Freeman’s character “quickly dies” in the movie, The Bucket List, belies the fact that you even saw the movie. Mr. Freeman’s character is central to the theme of the movie and he appears in all but the last few minutes of the movie. While I certainly do not condone smoking or generally defend smokers, I think your essay is presumptuous, arrogant, condescending and a blatant misrepresentation of the behaviors of most smokers. In the US, as you noted, smokers have been all but banned from public places. However, when I travel abroad, smokers are everywhere … in the pubs, restaurants, and the workplace. I am writing an article for a travel magazine and came across your article during my research. Because of the personal nature of your attacks on smokers, I must assume that your comments are really focused on an individual smoker who exhibits those behaviors and to whom your thoughts on the subject are truly directed. In reading some of your other “insights”, I recognized a consistent theme in your opinions … arrogance. How wonderful life must be for you … clearly an expert on every subject!

TH Williams said...

In Reply To Anonymous:

Thank-you for your careful consideration of my posting. You obviously have not considered the impact of cigarette smoking on the vast majority of those who undertake the deadly habit or those who must live with or near or those who smoke.

Fire departments across the United States fight fires directly resulting from the habit of smoking on a daily basis. Thousands of children are injured every year after playing with lighters and matches used by their parents who smoke.

The statistics and known facts about smoking support every single statement I have made in this blog entry. I challenge you to find any facts that might contradict the statements I shared. There is a difference between arrogance and accuracy, I research my blog entries to make sure that my statements are correct, and I correct factual errors that are revealed to me through any legitimate channels.

You are correct in assuming that I personally observed all of the negative aspects of smoking listed, including burn marks, shortness of breath, myriad excuses, and, yes, rapid death of personal friends and associates.

You must not have considered the time-line in "The Bucket List" very carefully. Morgan Freeman did die rather quickly after his diagnosis, in real life the ABC news announcer Peter Jennings and many others die rather quickly from smoking as well. Others die a slow a painful death from smoking, over many years. I have friends going down that horrible road right now. Their families share the suffering and dearly wish that other family members could be convinced to quit the habit. A few of them even printed out this blog entry and encouraged the smokers around them to read it.

My concern is also with having to pay for the sickening habit through higher taxes on all individuals, through higher health care costs, through increased costs on all communities that must clean up after smokers, treat burned children, put out their fires or attempt to save their dying lungs.

While smoking is in decline in the U.S. the tobacco industry continues to promote the proven deadly habit around the world, especially among young people, their greatest source of future revenues.

Cigarette smoking starts as a personal habit but quickly becomes an inescapable public addiction akin to that of a heroin addict. That corporations profit from such a product is in itself disgusting and immoral.

If the remarks you consider "foolish" cause even one person to reconsider the habit of smoking I am satisfied. In fact, excerpts and in four cases that I know of, the entire text of this particular blog entry have been translated and used in anti-smoking blogs in Italy, China, Germany, and North America.

I do not write to coddle or comfort readers, I leave that job to people like yourself who are willing to accept the status quo. I write to awaken and rile and disturb the way things are in certain realms. I live in a society that permits free expression and allows the individual to advocate change.

Thank you for reading some of my other blog entries. The statistics I receive and gather indicate that my blog is read by hundreds of people around the world. I choose the subjects, images and causes that I write about with that fact in mind. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the pleasure of my smoking. I have been doing so for thirty one years since I started at age fourteen. I know it is hurting me and it turns me on. I like the thought that I can choose to hurt myself for pleasure. It's kind of erotic actually. I choose Newport 100's because the have a high tar and nicotine level ( hurts me and gives a great rush) excuse me now . . . . it's time to light up!

TH Williams said...

Thank your for your thoughtful response.

I believe your behavior has been by defined by specialists as masochistic. Since cigarette smoking has also been proven to hurt others around you it also qualifies as a form sadomasochism (aka S&M).

Another term that applies to cigarette smoking is self-flagellation, and ultimately, when a smoker succeeds at killing themselves, it is known as suicide.

I too started smoking cigarettes when I was 14 years of age. I was soon quite addicted and felt the need to smoke 10 or 15 cigarettes each day, mostly Salem or Camel non-filters. I quit at age 15. I did not like how I felt when I awoke each morning. Besides that, my clothes, hair, and body really started to stink. This all did not matter much to my parents or girlfriend since they too smoked. When I quit smoking I actually had to start dating someone different. I did not like kissing someone that smelled like an ashtray.

My parents quit smoking at around the same time. They are still alive and doing well in their late 70s. All their friends that continued to smoke died many years ago.

I find life itself to be mostly very rewarding. I take steps (especially quick ones when crossing busy roads) to avoid an early death. My ancestors and immediate relatives have all enjoyed very long lives. I intend to do my best with the wonderful DNA and habits I have been given.

Anonymous said...

There is now a new quit smoking drug available in the market. This latest breakthrough is known as Chantix. It is able to help smokers snub out their addiction by working on the brain.

john said...

FDA approved chantix (latest smoking cessation pill) leads you to Smoking free healthy life. The Best possible way to quit smoking for clean and healthy world.

Ashley Williams said...

It's so sad that no one is trying to understand the harm of smoking and they are moving towards the death!! and will be saying that its hard to quit smoking, how can they know that it is harder to quit without even taking a step further ?
I'am so sad.. :(

Anonymous said...

I can see this article is very old, but I felt the need to comment. My name is Matt. I started smoking when I was 18. The same year I started my construction material company. I am now 26 and am very well off. I still smoke cigarettes and I enjoy it. I usually go through a pack every 2 days. while I know the possible consequences of my actions, I still choose to smoke. I enjoy smoking and I choose to live my life doing things I enjoy. I don't smoke around other people and have no remaning close relatives.. if I get sick.. I and I myself will be able to cover my own medical bills and then some. I am in no way hurting anyone besides myself. You article in itself is very onesided and judgemental. Truth betold not even 50 percent of smokers die from smoking. Odds I'm willing to take to do something I LOVE doing. Why isn't that statistic in your article. Let people live life the way they choose. Despite what you think.. you aren't the only educated person in this world. Most people who smoke know the consequences and choose to do it anyway. Let smokers live life the way they see fit. You come off no better than a racist or prejudice. I'll be awaiting your clever and condescending response.

Anonymous said...

I will never allow anyone to defend cigarette smoking in any way. You know the destruction tobacco farming causes to 1000's of acres of otherwise productive farmland. You forget the damage your smoking causes to the humans, plants and defenseless creatures that are forced by you to suck that carbon monoxide in to their cells. Your statistics are terribly incorrect. Every year you smoke takes 5 years off your life, but it takes a few years off the lives of every living thing near you. Quit smoking, see what happens, oh wait, you cannot quit, in fact you are a nicotine addict. If that had no impact on anyone else, I would allow your suicide attempt to go unmolested. Do you really hate all your loved ones so much that you need to commit slow, but inevitable suicide? If so, kill your self in some other nation, because I am sick and tired of paying for your hospital and doctor bills as a result of smoking cigarettes. Move to Sweden, they pay your doctor bills, I don't want to. Quit smoking, it is not a pleasure to burn your body alive, admit. that, at least.

Jade Graham said...

They know smoking can kill people but they are pretty sure smoking will not kill least not today, Air Purifier for Smoke