(Consider this to be the next episode in the Blatant Stupidity series)
A couple of weeks ago I went to the Texas driver's license office to renew my driver's license (obviously) and saw a young man, no older than his early twenties, with a pack of cigarettes in his hand. This got me thinking, since there isn't much else to do at the driver's license office until your number is called. Why in the world would anyone younger than, say, forty even consider smoking? I remember my grade school indoctrination about the evils of smoking, it has been plastered all over the news for over ten years, the health issues are clearly documented, it is being banned in more and more places, and yet alleged smart people continue this nasty, stupid habit.
Both of my parents smoked while I was growing up. When they started, it was at a time when smoking was a symbol of strength and maturity. While that itself was a pretty stupid concept, it at least explains how and why my parents got hooked on nicotine. My father quit smoking cold-turkey about halfway through my childhood because, in his words, "It costs too much." My mother wasn't as lucky. Over the past 10 years she started developing asthma that was getting progressively worse, and every sinus-related illness became bronchitis. About five years ago, her doctor basically said that she needed to quit smoking or she'd die a rather painful death. That was the kick-in-the-butt my mother finally needed to quit. Thankfully nicotine patches made the transition much easier. When she was finally rid of the cigarettes, it was a relief, for her and everyone around her.
Now we're in the next century. Smoking is not considered "cool" anymore. It's expensive. Smoking leaves a horrible odor on the person smoking and permanently on everything around them. It causes people like myself a good deal of respiratory distress that lasts several days. It is messy. It is a fire hazard. Yet knowing all these things people willfully partake in this disgusting habit.
Then there's what my friend Shellie calls, "smoker's attitude." The best example of this can be exemplified by the people who feel that the world is their ashtray (or trash can) and dump every by-product of their disgusting habit wherever they're standing, driving, sitting, etc. On a nice day I could be driving along with my car windows down and - without fail - some ash-hole driving in front of me flicks the ashes, butt, smoke, and anything else they feel like it, out the window of their car. The ashes that get flicked out the window end up in the window of my car, in my face. The butts end up as litter all over the ground at traffic lights or any other place convenient to the smoker. It is a complete disregard for anyone or anything else around them. Not all smokers are this way, but an unfortunate majority of them are.
When people have finally had enough and the smoking bans start getting put into place, these same individuals all of a sudden find themselves being selective-libertarians and start preaching how their "right to smoke" has been violated. I don't recall there being such a right defined in any country's constitution, including the United States. While the right to breathe clean air is certainly not listed there either, I believe that having to endure the effects (and after-effects) of some inconsiderate twit's habit constitutes no less than assault (although the legal system has yet to accept my hypothesis). Better said, your right to smoke ends when it encroaches on my right to breathe clean air. If you want to pollute the air in your own house or car, then go right ahead and do it. It needs to stay there, though.
In this day and age, it is not ignorance that causes people to smoke - it is arrogance and blatant stupidity. It is a physical drug dependence that helps keep them smoking.
The question that went through my head to the young man at the driver's license office was, "What were you thinking?"