No Smoking?

An anti-anti-smoking rant.

I am not sure when it happened, but I have a good idea how it happened. All of a sudden, out of the blue, I noticed something. Out of nowhere I became a second class citizen. Not because of race, sex or creed. There is no heritage issue, nor is it about financial status, though in a way politics does play a part.

Before I go any further I feel it’s only fair to give you a little personal background. I do not do any form of recreational drugs. I do not drink alcohol. I am out of shape. (Though I maintain that round is a shape!) I am ravenous for red meat, and I am currently weaning myself from a caffeine addiction that may take a twelve step program. Also, I love to drive. Yet none of these seem to be an issue.

I am a smoker. Those little paper wrapped plants have made me an outcast in society. Even if they are not on fire, they make me some sort of social pariah. Someone who should be yelled at and shamed in front of people, I am made to feel as if I am somewhere below Hitler yet just above Chuck Manson. I am the killer of children and small animals.

Here is my response to that…

Bite me! You hypocritical (Oops, can’t use those words.)

Sorry. My bad. That was the nicotine writing, maybe the caffeine withdrawal. I am okay now.

But here is the thing, smokers have been relegated to the last refuge for smokers. Outside. What were the politicians thinking? There “excuse” for outlawing smoking inside was that we as smokers are a burden on the healthcare system. I call bull pucky! Here is why. If I am a smoker that apparently is already at risk for every disease ever, are you sure it will be more easy for us not to get sick if you make us go out in 10 below weather?

According to State of Minnesota, in 2008, there were 500 fatalities due to drunk driving. There were zero fatalities due to anyone driving while smoking too many cigarettes before they got behind the wheel.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… bad analogy. I refer you to the earlier “Bite me!” statement.

Here is the hypocritical part. Our government makes millions off of tobacco, between the taxes, the lawsuits, and everything else. Yet they spearhead the campaign to “protect” us from ourselves. That to me is like a crack dealer lecturing me that drugs are bad, but here’s your crack. That’ll be such and such amount. Cash please.

A company can now fire you, or refuse to hire you if you are a smoker. Yet if you show up drunk, they have to get you help. If you are stoned? Can’t fire them for that. Got to get them help. Addicted to sex? Can’t fire them! (Though feel free to
pass their phone number over to me.)

I can see the issue though. I am not telling people to smoke (or chew tobacco.) It is not a good habit. It is a harmful habit, no doubt. But then again so are a lot of habits. I am not an advocate for smoking. What I am an advocate of is leave me
the heck alone!

The government can’t make it illegal. We tried that once, and we all know how that turned out. So they leave it up to society to put the pressure on. We feed the propaganda machine. We know from history how well that works too. (Just an FYI trivia question for you, does anyone know the first government body to outlaw smoking? See answer at the end.)

Plus, if we made it illegal, what comes next? Automobiles? They spew out dangerous gasses. Electricity? So does that. Fire? Sky diving? It seems fatty foods is next. Twinkies will go up to 20 bucks a cake! (And yes, I would on occasion drop 20 bucks on an illegal Twinkie! Seems I will need another twelve steps.)

There is a commercial out there about a young mother with a child who has asthma, who states not to be afraid of telling people not to smoke around her kids. First off, how about asking us nicely. Chances are good, as a smoker, we would put it out. Of course, where in the world a kid would be that allowed smoking is beyond me. Or more to the point, how about you move your kid out of my way. I am pretty sure if I lit a smoke in my home in Richfield, the effect will be pretty darn low if you are in Burnsville. Just saying.

So if you happen to pass me while I am smoking, you save the nasty looks for someone who truly deserves it. Like a pedophile or a politician.

(Trivia Answer: That would be the Nazi's.)

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Laura April 30, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Amen!! I feel like I constantly get nasty looks from people when I'm smoking in my car. It's MY car, people. I don't smoke around kids, I don't smoke in the car when I have non-smokers with me, and if I'm out with non-smokers I walk away if I have one. If you choose to not smoke, good for you, but don't tell me that just because you don't have this particular habit that you don't have a different, possibly equally bad for you, habit or addiction that you're not talking about. I also do not drink, I don't do drugs, I try to eat healthy (for the most part), I work 45-60 hours per week, I go to church, teach my kids manners and morals (and no, I do not smoke inn the house or around them, before you even ask) happily married and try to volunteer in any free time I have. So, before you look down your nose at a smoker, remember that the cigarette you see is not the person who's smoking it.
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) April 30, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Is it just looks? Or do people actually say things to you in public?
Juniper April 30, 2012 at 02:43 PM
If you want to smoke in your car fine. But please don't pull up alongside me with your poisonous fumes wafting into my car. Shut your windows out of courtesy. If you smoke outside please follow the rules and regulations. Don't stand outside the door of a Mall wafting fumes in my face, use the smoking area. If people used common courtesy when smoking instead of wafting cancer fumes in other people's faces then maybe you would not feel like a pariah.
Laura April 30, 2012 at 03:27 PM
@Caitlin, a lot of looks, some comments. I did have one man follow me for a few miles just to pull up behind me and block me in after I parked my car to "explain" to me that I am killing myself.
Laura April 30, 2012 at 03:42 PM
@Juniper, you do realize that not all smokers do these things, right? That you are grouping everyone who smokes all together? I can point out a ridiculous amount of horrible, inconsiderate non-smokers, but I don't group all of you together. Most smokers are considerate and think of those who do not smoke when we do decide to have one. As for smoking in my car, your comment of "please don't pull up alongside me with your poisonous fumes wafting into my car. Shut your windows out of courtesy." is not exactly a fair statement. There are no smoking laws when it comes to the streets of the city, at least not yet, anyway. I, and most smokers, do not intentionally blow smoke directly into someone's car, but we cannot control the wind, contrary to some beliefs. Even if we are standing/sitting/driving in an area that we are "allowed" to smoke in, and even blow the smoke in the opposite direction of any other people, we cannot guarantee that the smoke will not float over to somewhere a non-smoker is. I apologize on behalf of smokers everywhere that we have not been able to harness this power yet, but rest assured, when we do, we will do everything in our power to make sure our "poisonous, cancer fumes" will funnel directly out of our atmosphere...
Juniper April 30, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Laura .... My husband has emphysema so someone pulling up alongside the car with a window open, there hand outside the window holding a cigarette wafting into our car is a considerable health hazard No one insinuated all smokers are the same but even though it may be legal to smoke in the car and open areas some common courtesy is called for. Many smokers abuse people who nicely ask them to smoke in the smoking area..
Juniper April 30, 2012 at 03:48 PM
And no you can not control the wind, but you can control closing the window of the car and smoking inside it.
Laura April 30, 2012 at 04:39 PM
I can honestly count on one hand (mind you, no fingers are up while I'm doing this) how many times I have been asked "nicely" to put my cigarette out by a non-smoker. It seems that lighting a cigarette apparently gives non-smokers the right to be rude and forget all of their manners, so if a smoker is rude to you, if you do indeed actually ask nicely, then they are either used to being yelled at and looked down upon and just expect it and already have a reply, or they are just a rude person. If that is the case, whether they are smokers or not, they would have been rude anyway. I am sorry that your husband has emphysema and I am not downplaying his condition by any means, but again, the reply you gave goes both ways, we can roll our windows up, but you can too.
Kevin Parks April 30, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Seems I started a bit of a debate here. Juniper, just to "clear the air" (Pun intended) I was not going for a debate on the health values of smoking. My mother had empysema as well as some other Chronic lung problem (CPD) so I have witnessed how bad it can be. However, especially while riding in a vehicle, you are essencially asking me that if I pull up next to you in my car I should shut my car off if you have a window open. Car exhaust is far more toxic than a cigarette. It is just not feasible.
Juniper April 30, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Sorry, most smokers are pretty self centered as per your comment which says why can't we roll up our window. We are not the ones doing the polluting. You choose to smoke we choose not to . Both my mother (stroke) and grandfather (lung cancer) died due to this habit. I choose not to die from it which is why I don't smoke. I don't want my husband to die from it either which is why we avoid smoking environments. We obviously can't if people are hanging outside mall entrances, shop doorways, hanging out of car windows. Smoking is not a right it is a choice and it is a conscious decision to do so.
Laura April 30, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Ahh, but it is a right, until it is made illegal, for us to do so. I am not being self-centered when I make the statement that you can also roll up your window, I'm making a point. I can also turn that around and say that you are being self-centered by requesting we roll up our window as well, right? I am not saying that it is healthy, I'm not saying that it's OK for some rude smokers to not obey with the laws of not standing far enough away from entrances as we are "told" to do. I AM saying that we have a right to smoke, it is legal, we do make the choice to do so and we should not have to go down into our basements and hide under a blanket just because other people don't like it. As long as we are obeying the laws that are set forth, we should not be looked at as second class citizens because of our choices, isn't that one of the reasons everyone lives in the U.S.A. in the first place? Freedom of choice? Believe it or not, I do have manners and I am an incredibly selfless person, I am always doing for others and not thinking of myself first. I am not trying to put you down or anger you in any way, I am trying to make sure that non-smokers understand our point of view, as we smokers are VERY aware of non-smokers point of view, per the comments we constantly get and the advertising that seems to be everywhere. On a side note, really, the commercials and hideous pictures really don't convince us to quit. We have to make up our own minds to do so.
Lindsey Marie May 01, 2012 at 05:03 PM
I'm not condemning anyone that smokes, but I would like to add that smoking inside a public building is illegal not in order to try to get people to quit, but in order to protect others from second-hand smoke, just like drinking and driving is illegal to protect other drivers on the road.
David Haines May 02, 2012 at 03:14 PM
My pet peeves with smokers (and yes I realize that not ALL smokers do this but a majority are guilty of at least one): 1.) Smoking where smoking is not allowed (light rail platforms and close to entrances to buildings when it's posted to smoke 25 feet away) and 2.) Not properly disposing of their litter. I realize that most cars don't have ashtrays anymore, but your answer is to flick your butt out the window onto the road or dry grass on the shoulder? Now, I've met responsible smokers who extinguish and store their butts until they find a garbage can, and i've also met people who will throw their butt onto the sidewalk in front of a store when there was an ashtray an arms reach away. Seems that the former people are in shorter supply than the latter. Smoke where it is allowed so I can avoid it, don't litter, and we'll get along just fine. :) @ Laura, all rights have limits. And your "right" cannot infringe on someone else's "right". Not sure something is a "right" just because it's not illegal though. Permitted or allowed maybe, but a right?
Laura May 03, 2012 at 04:11 PM
I guess I was making a point that we all have freedom of choice, not necessarily a freedom-to-do-whatever-we-want. I completely agree with you, as smokers, we should abide by the law, which includes no littering (for the amount of plastic bottles thrown away every day, all you need to do it keep one in your car to put your butts in if you don't have an ashtray) and don't smoke near entrances or in public places that state that there's no smoking allowed. I, unfortunately, can't do anything about rude smokers, I wish I could, though. I think the biggest problem, as Kevin was saying in his column, is that no matter what we do, even if we obey every law that comes with smoking, we are constantly looked down upon as second class citizens, made out to be these horrible people who are killing everyone in our path. Go sit at a bar some Friday or Saturday (or Tuesday, really, the day doesn't matter) and just sit by the door and let me know how many of those people are actually sober enough to drive when they leave for the night. When they get in their cars, they are taking the chance of not only killing themselves, but multiple people as well when they get on the road. And yes, I think that it's a fair comparison, both nicotine and alcohol are addictive, both can be harmful to your health and both affect more than just the person do it. For the amount of people who drink (way more than those who smoke) why don't we see more "drinking kills" commercials?
Kevin Parks May 04, 2012 at 05:28 AM
You are correct Laura, that was exacty what I was going for. Thank you.
Annie S. May 07, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Damn near everyone smoked 60 years ago, what's the rate of lung cancer among those 60 years of age and older? I mean, if they all died from lung cancer already - why are we worried about the baby boomers sucking social security dry? Basically, one day, the surgeon general, decided to plant a seed. That seed has grown into one of, if not the grandest scale example of hypocritical propaganda this country has ever known. I don't particularly care for people bringing their children into an establishment that serves alcohol. I also don't particularly care to see the parents caring for those children are drinking while they're there. However, as long as those children aren't being served alcohol, it's completely legal. If I was a "smaller" person, I would scold these "parents" to their faces instead of under my breath. As long as smoking is legal, and as long as the government is more than happy to tax tobacco products, I think non-smoking people can at least put a cork in it. Even if I wasn't a smoker, I'd like to think people haven't fought and died in nearly 250 years of war to protect our freedom - only to have my rights (and character) squashed by intolerant hypocrites on a daily basis.


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