Saturday, March 26, 2011


As my father and I drove to North Carolina for my toures de college, I noticed, and pointed out, many, many people flicking small, sticklike objects which burned through the air. At first, I thought they were just doing that trick where you light a match by standing it on the matchbox grind and flicking it. I asked my father if I could join in on the pyromania and he gave me quite an interesting face. Half of his face showed the sort of horror you usually show if an alien bursts out of your friend’s ribcage. The other half was sure I had no idea what I was talking about. This combination of denial and trepidation showed bright on his face, and in the confusion of facial expressions which took place as both me and my father tried to agree on an expression to react to the other with, he narrowly avoided avoiding a rather adorable squirrel.
After hysterically laughing at the rodent’s fortune, my father told me the darker truth. As a man much disillusioned about the nature of man (a mindset which can only be attained after murdering several rabbits in his Graduate school), he went on to give me the most biased opinion he could give, while maintaining a nihilistic approach to the fixing of the social injustice.
Apparently, the roadsides are public ashtrays. They look almost as disgusting as fresh roadkill, or a fresh smoker’s lungs (or heart, trachea, mouth, etc.), or a boring college tour. I take that back, I’d rather take one college’s dispassionate tour for the rest of my life than see those roadsides.
My father and I spent nearly half the trip from Atlanta to Charlotte on this topic.
One thing my father told me was the most important: never tell a smoker the risks of smoking. They’ll just puff harder, deeper, so they can compost faster. Just like the common Freudian, Squirrel, Atheist, Religious, <insert ethnic group here(including the white folk)>, Nudist, and Atom, if you tell them they’re wrong, they’ll just say “no, buzz off” and then explode when you get 26 kilograms of—wait, that’s just the Atom. Never mind…
While I’m saying this, it’s nice to not be nihilistic about this.
(If you smoke and read this blog, then close this page, find me, and tell me any part of this post is wrong. Hopefully I won’t be in a Freudian, Atheistic, Religious, Nudistic, or Atomic mood.)
Smoking in your own house-fine. I won’t go there willingly without a HAZMAT suit on. Unfortunately, while HAZMATs are all the rage in all fifty states, it’s insanely difficult to do more than waddle around in them. Increasingly difficult actions are, say, eating through the glass dome, driving through two inches of insulation, and walking into most buildings and opening doors through mascot-sized gloves. I understand you’re hopelessly addicted to your addiction, but kill yourself in your own area. I don’t mean your area of the restaurant; I mean your house.
Smokers get five to fifteen minutes of every working hour as a smoke break. I have peers online who, every few minutes, must get up and chug some dynamite sticks to stay functional. I don’t mean to be rude, or truthful, but doesn’t that come across as a bit wasteful? Just a bit? This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if the person who went to get the smoke comes back three minutes later with a scent so strong I could smell it through my speakers. Also, what about the non-smokers? Obviously, since we don’t have a narcotic addiction, we can’t expect to have time off like the addicts.
Excuse me; I have to take a water break. I’ll be right back. Give me three minutes, tops. “Please man, I gotta have my H2O. ya don’t understand, boss, I get all jittery when I don’t have my agua. For cryin’ out loud, you give Jim fifteen minutes for his addiction! Give me my three!” says the water addict. Later, he cries that his serious physical dependency isn’t taken seriously.
In other sub-topics of the same underlying rant, the roadsides. Next to the beer bottles, broken glass, gratuitous shredded tires, and lost hopes and dreams I see a hundred cigarettes here, a hundred cigarettes there. I wonder who picks them up after they’ve accumulated to the point where they are a post-mortem threat to humanity. Obviously, somebody has to. It’s not a rare sight to see people toss the cancer lances on the ground. After a while, the pile up. And who else will do the profitless job of picking them up?
-pause for dramatic effect-
If you guessed the government, GM, or the UN, you’re completely right! Anyone who cares not for small things like profits and worthwhile occupations finds glee in paying someone to do an unnecessary service.
And you wonder, why do my cigs cost five dollars a pack? That’s a misappropriated tax. You see, what the government does with all that insane taxes, like with oil, is funnel it towards the welfare system, which goes back to the people who buy the cigarettes and, somewhere down the now-clean roadsides, money is lost by the bucket-load. The money should be funneled toward Medicaid and Medicare, two government systems which never pull down the economy, which easily pay for themselves. Yes, your Roman Candles don’t just cause a high; they can hurt you!
My father used to work in the medical records for several hospitals, and can attest to the much higher rate of nicotine-related illness, including cancer, black lung, something to do with throat growths, other growths, skinniness, —(and did I forget the physical dependency?), than non-smokers. People who smoke visit the hospital much more often than people who abstain.
Now, if you are a smoker and have not heeded my warning to close this window, then you probably are trying to figure out how you can sue me for forcing you to throw your chair through you computer screen. I will now defend you.
Smokers are not a beast to take criticism lightly. I have had people look offended when I bring up the subject. I have seen other people try the blow horn approach, which involves running to street corners and, in the kindest way possible, tell each and every one of the citizens there tat they are going to burn in hell for eternity. In much the same way, smokers brush these perfectly nonsensical people off. Neither will giving them a handout telling them how to become healthier help them. They’d likely roll the pamphlet up with some chew and smoke that.
What you have to do is make them uncomfortable. I tell my friends “my dad loves the business you give him”, to which they inevitably inquire further. I tell them my dad worked with hospital records and the larger the base, the more work he has to pretend to do.  Other things is just say “thanks for smoking”, “I wonder what an ashtray tastes like. Can I have a taste?”
Okay, so I’ve never used that last one, to which I am thankful.
Sadly, nothing’s done about this. The government sure as prohibition can’t stop this. They tried to outlaw alcohol, and that just backfired. They tried to stop smoking, and largely they still failed. The reason is its popularity. Both alcohol and smoking are popular, despite the studies, the tests, and the statistics. It’s just too ingrained in society. Back in the 1920’s and the 1930’s, America banned the sale of alcohol. This was seen as the first greatest mistake since the dawn of man—instead of, say, squirrels, or cats. The result was a hilarious backfire. People kept making alcohol—they were just sneaky. The president broke the law himself, keeping a stocked cellar in the White House A much more disgruntled, not-drunk Congress, needed something extremely heavy after fourteen years of being officially dry, passed the twenty-first amendment, which let people get wasted again.
The smoking campaign worked in many ways. Restaurants are now, for the most part, smoke-free. The reason for this was, not a legal action, but a populous action. Successful campaigning made it unpopular enough to smoke that most restaurants felt okay to prohibit the action. Blue storm clouds no longer asphyxiated customers at the Steak n’ Shakes, McDonalds’, any sit-down restaurants, and Five Guys’ of the United States.
The Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act of 1975 was the first grand step in the journey towards this goal, and now, to my knowledge, all fifty states share the general premise.
It’s a good first step.
Okay, now a word from a long-dead guy of some importance:

"A custome loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmeful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomeless."- King James I of England

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search This Blog