Some observations on smokers

Posted Oct 19, 2002
Last Updated Oct 30, 2011

Someone once approached me and asked if she could bum a cigarette.

"I don’t smoke,” I said.

The girl gave me a nasty look and said, "Oh.” She walked away with the quick swagger of one who had accidentally stepped in a mess but was too proud to acknowledge its presence.

Countless other times I have been in public when someone near would blow a heavy stream of smoke my way. To the best of my abilities I have stood there stoically as I tried to ignore the pungent odor that burned my eyes and thickened the air going down my throat. On the rare occasion that I would grimace and wave the smoke away, the smokers around stare indignantly for a moment before they quickly turn back to the important business of breathing particulates of tar and aerosol nicotine.

Some friends of mine smoke. Ironically, they play basketball too. Well, they play for a few minutes at a time. These guys, none above twenty-five, will pant and wheeze like the atmosphere is made of syrup as they drag themselves off the court. "I need a cigarette,” they gasp.

The father of a friend smoked his whole life. A couple years before he died he could barely stand, and when he did he fell into fits of coughing that would have waken the dead if they weren’t so weak from the fact that his lungs were too clogged to get any oxygen to pack a punch. His doctor told him if he didn’t stop smoking, he’d die. Well, he never gave up smokes. The last two years of his life were spent lying on his couch, looking very much like a smoking corpse. He couldn’t move, and every time he started to speak his lungs collapsed and he hacked up the rest of his thoughts instead of talking. I seem to remember his mockery of the dangers of tobacco.

When I sat down to write this, I thought I’d make some logical argument against smoking. But when I thought about every conversation or argument I’ve had on this topic I realized that I wouldn’t get any point across. That’s because most adult smokers already know that their habit is dangerous, that cigarettes stink, and that it is a bad example to set for children. They don’t need me to tell them that. The problem is the nicotine. You can’t argue with an addiction.

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