Thursday, February 26, 2009


(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?"


JC said...

I happen to agree, despite having close family members that have picked up smoking once again after years of clear thinking, seemingly for no reason at all. Actually, right after this person's parent died of emphysema-related complications, out came the cigars again. WTH? Cigars, of all nasty things. Or, as another ever-blunt relative likes to call them, "poop sticks".

The problem is, I love to visit this person, but the cigar stink is like a big sign on the door that says, "go away". I always leave after a few days' stay feeling ill and greasy, despite their best attempts to corral the smoke into one (main) room. It's just gross. I have to wash every single thing I travel there with, whether I've worn it or not.

Not only that, but it's like bearing witness to someone's slow suicide attempt, which I find quite depressing.

But my actual point in commenting was about the psychological addiction of smoking, the behavioral element. I've had friends in the past who rarely seemed to jones for a cigarette until they were in a social situation or had a drink in their hand. This always struck me as a peculiar kind of weakness in their personality. Like, they didn't feel 'cool' or 'hip' enough to hold their own at a bar without that drink and cig.

I have even noticed the social pressure to have a drink in one's hand when in a bar, but I've overcome the need to bend to that expectation. I'll order something if I feel like it. If not, I'll sit there, no drink, no cigarette, and do whatever it is I came there to do. No social props.

So that's what I've come to think of cigarettes as - cancerous, expensive, intrusive social props for those whose personality needs artificial augmentation.

Harsh? Mebbe. But whatever. They deserve a little harshness - they're not going to die early from inhaling my second-hand clean air. They can deal with a little vitriol.

Word Verification:
erioni /n./ - plural form of "erionus", an error made on a Latin quiz.

Anonymous said...

As we had discussed previously, City of Dallas is implementing an smoke ban ordinance effective April 10 for all restaurants, bars and billiard halls. There has been a little protest but most places are creating patios at their establishments so customers can still smoke.

Talk among the pool league members who about 80% are smokers are welcoming the change. Most don't mind stepping outside to smoke since they don't smoke in their own homes and others are hoping that it will encourage them to quit.