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Why a Smokeless America isn't Desirable
December 25, 2012 1:00 PM   Subscribe

The Case Against a Smoke Free America "Tobacco is viewed as pure vice by public health officials. Surgeon General Everett C. Koop famously hoped for a smoke-free America by the year 2000. Koop echoed Lucy Page Gaston, the early twentieth century prohibitionist who campaigned for 'a smokeless America by 1925.' This impulse was revived by Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who testified before Congress in 2003, 'I see no need for any tobacco products in society.'... In Elizabethan England, the then novel act of smoking was described as 'dry drinking.' The metaphor is apt: Neither alcohol nor tobacco is essential to life, but both offer pleasant flavors while enhancing mood and sociality. And, of course, both are harmful when consumed in excess."
posted by bookman117 (230 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
The biggest case I see against cigarettes is that the buzz sucks. Sure, tobacco has an effect, but the biggest "high" cigarettes give you (imo) is that you don't crave a cigarette ... for a few minutes.

Also, I know a lot of moderate alcohol drinkers. The casual smokers either become full-time smokers or quit. There's not much of a 3-4 cigarettes per week use case.

Most of my friends have all quit. I feel sorry for the others. It's a hell of an addiction, and again, for what. Meth, heroin, coke - I understand, but I don't get cigarettes.

In fact, the only reason so many people are addicted is b/c it is the only legal drug aside from alcohol.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:07 PM on December 25, 2012 [22 favorites]


Totally agree, rich people should be allowed to do whatever they want, while poor people should be subject to civil and criminal penalties for the same activities. It's the natural order.
posted by facetious at 1:10 PM on December 25, 2012 [29 favorites]


I don't think we need to ban cigs, I just wish that those that smoke are respectful of those that don't. However cigarettes are harmful when consumed at all, not only in excess. Much more so than alcohol, and possibly more than marijuana (I remember seeing studies here and there, but i don't have any cites handy so I'm not sure about that one).
posted by askmehow at 1:10 PM on December 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


I can't speak for anyone else, but smoking bans have changed my life for the better. I'm asthmatic, and the less cigarette smoke I'm around the better my health is. Also, ugh, the smell!

The writer seems to be trying one of those "I'm going to say something shocking just so I get lots of links" things. Not real impressed with the article.
posted by rednikki at 1:14 PM on December 25, 2012 [40 favorites]


I have plenty of friends who smoke 1 or 2 cigarettes a day, or 3-4 times a week, or only after big meals or what have you. In fact most of my friends who still smoke are like that.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:15 PM on December 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


When the guy below me drinks (if he drinks), he doesn't get alcohol all over my apartment. Fuck smokers.
posted by planet at 1:18 PM on December 25, 2012 [68 favorites]


2 years, 3 months, 21 days but who's count-7 HOURS
posted by hal9k at 1:18 PM on December 25, 2012 [35 favorites]


> The writer seems to be trying one of those "I'm going to say something shocking just so I get lots of links" things.

You just reeled off The Atlantic's mission statement.
posted by user92371 at 1:19 PM on December 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


"premium tobacco is arguably every bit as artisanal as many of the other food and drink products that those of us in the culinary world obsess over."

Think Mexican brown, brown sugar, light brown, black tar, china white, skag, white girl, the dragon... or homebake, At least four distinct varieties and processes, skillfully handcrafted by seasoned artisans.
posted by markkraft at 1:19 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Tobacco is viewed as pure vice by public health officials.

That's a pretty weak premise to start out with. I doubt this, because "vice" connotes sinfulness, and most medical professionals aren't in the business of sin. They're in the business of public health and thus view smoking as the public health problem it is.
posted by scratch at 1:20 PM on December 25, 2012 [17 favorites]


Neither alcohol nor tobacco is essential to life, but both offer pleasant flavors while enhancing mood and sociality.

With other people who smoke.

I don't drink. I still enjoy socializing with people who are drinking.

I don't smoke. The smell (not to mention the second-hand toxicity) is a barrier to socializing with anyone who not only is *currently* smoking, but sometimes also people who have recently smoked. Or to being in a place where people regularly smoke.

This is the thing about smoking: it's never just the smoker who partakes of the smoke.
posted by weston at 1:23 PM on December 25, 2012 [46 favorites]


This is straight up bullshit. CDC states that tobacco killed around one in five people in the US in 2011, and just to give a flavour of how deadly that is, "more deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined."

You'd have to make a very very special case to ignore those numbers; booze and firearms don't compare.
posted by jaduncan at 1:23 PM on December 25, 2012 [86 favorites]


Tobacco is viewed as pure vice death by public health officials.
posted by jaduncan at 1:25 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


We know that cigarettes are a product designed specifically to keep their consumers coming back for more.

Turns out that cigars pose as great a health risk as cigarettes, even though cigar smoke isn't inhaled.

Who paid who?
posted by Pudhoho at 1:26 PM on December 25, 2012


possibly more than marijuana

Possibly? Not to derail, but I'm pretty sure there's no "possibly" involved.

I'm a smoker (this week) who wishes to hell they'd just ban the things.
posted by Jimbob at 1:26 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


His argument is that he wants to eat "coffee custard infused with tobacco" and smoke fancy cigars. Not a strong argument.

Prohibition doesn't work, but tabacco is a defective product; more so than most hard drugs. I'm ok with bans in public spaces, and it should be difficult to buy.
posted by bhnyc at 1:29 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I recall the story back when smoking anywhere was ok. Guy on plane goes to light a cigarette. Asks the guy next to him if he minds if he smokes. The guy says No. Mind if I fart?
posted by Postroad at 1:30 PM on December 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Preserving culture is not an absolute good. We are already destroying the millennia old traditions of ivory carving because that we we get to keep having elephants. In this case we are in the process of destroying the culture behind the creation of both premium and cheap tobacco products because that way we get to keep having the people who would otherwise smoke them.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:32 PM on December 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


Cigars. Great way to quit smoking cigs too (at least, it worked for me, for which I am eternally grateful).
posted by emmet at 1:33 PM on December 25, 2012


In this case we are in the process of destroying the culture behind the creation of both premium and cheap tobacco products because that way we get to keep having the people who would otherwise smoke them.

Why should moderate smokers have to pay for these people's irresponsibility? And no, not everyone has to partake when someone smokes. There's the outdoors. If the way it makes the breath smell is really that awful, then there's such a thing as mint gum.
posted by bookman117 at 1:44 PM on December 25, 2012


Turns out that cigars pose as great a health risk as cigarettes

I believe it, but I don't know if it makes sense to look at the product outside of its usage patterns. Although I've met a few chronic cigar smokers, it seems pretty rare — most people I know who smoke cigars do so pretty occasionally, and they seem to be mostly marketed as a special-occasion, high-end sort of product.

Cigarettes and chewing tobacco seem to lead towards very frequent use, where the desired effect is mostly an amelioration of withdrawal. Cigars and hookah tobacco, OTOH, while they are the same underlying drug and come from the same plant, seem to steer users towards more occasional, social use. Perhaps that's only because there's even less tolerance of cigar and hookah smoking except outside of facilities designed expressly for it (cigar or hookah bars)...?

I don't agree with banning a particular substance, but we ban particular products all the time for being too dangerous for the market. Getting rid of cigarettes, or changing how they're marketed, packaged, or the price at which they're sold, might be justifiable even if tobacco generally is still allowed.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:45 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I recall the story ...

Steve Martin thanks you.

I'm opposed to a complete ban of tobacco products for the same reason I'm opposed to the ban on pot: the difficulties of enforcing such a ban would outweigh any effect to the good. However, I'm totally in favor of bans on smoking in restaurants/bars. Such bans have made my life so much, much better.

Meanwhile, Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller is reviewing cigarettes. (At Christmas Tucker gives a carton to every employee and says "Merry Christmas, smoke up!" Oh, it's a banner fucking year in the Carlson business.)
posted by octobersurprise at 1:48 PM on December 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


The writer sounds as if he would like to open a cigar bar in Portland and is pissed off that he can't.
posted by pernoctalian at 1:56 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Why should moderate smokers have to pay for these people's irresponsibility? And no, not everyone has to partake when someone smokes. There's the outdoors. If the way it makes the breath smell is really that awful, then there's such a thing as mint gum."

Even light/intermittent smoking is in no way safe, or that meaningfully more responsible than standard smoking habits.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:01 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fuck banning. Seriously.

I'd be surprised how high the puritanical impulse runs among the frequent posters on MF. Except that it runs in such predictable ways.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:02 PM on December 25, 2012 [36 favorites]


Why should moderate smokers have to pay for these people's irresponsibility? And no, not everyone has to partake when someone smokes. There's the outdoors. If the way it makes the breath smell is really that awful, then there's such a thing as mint gum.

Cigarette smoking pollutes a pretty wide area around the smoker even outdoors, and sinks into clothes and skin and hair as well as breath. It's simply foul to be around a smoker, and smokers give you no choice in the matter.
posted by kafziel at 2:03 PM on December 25, 2012 [15 favorites]


I admire The Atlantic's commitment to crafting and presenting only the finest artisanal link-bait.

While other media outfits are throwing in the towel and just re-hosting Reddit posts, The Atlantic still has individual authors working in their post mills, writing out each sloppy rage-baiting sentence by hand, without the help of Markov chains or any other corpus-trained artificial intelligences creating filler.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:03 PM on December 25, 2012 [15 favorites]


I can't speak for anyone else, but smoking bans have changed my life for the better.

They got me to give up cigs, so +1.
posted by pompomtom at 2:03 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is proof that centuries of marketing can scramble the minds of otherwise rational adults. You have been manipulated and conditioned to lust for a poison, the very least you can do is make it as hard as possible for others to suffer the same fate.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:05 PM on December 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


...though I suppose that in terms of goodness-for-America, me quitting is probably a loss, financially.
posted by pompomtom at 2:05 PM on December 25, 2012


Fuck banning.

But not vice-versa, if you please.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:15 PM on December 25, 2012 [15 favorites]


I think it was Tom Robbins in Still Life With Woodpecker who had the following exchange:

"Kissing a smoker is like kissing an ashtray."

"Kissing an intolerant person is like kissing an asshole."
posted by chavenet at 2:16 PM on December 25, 2012 [15 favorites]


2N2222: "Fuck banning. Seriously.

I'd be surprised how high the puritanical impulse runs among the frequent posters on MF. Except that it runs in such predictable ways.
"

Banning? No. Continuing the efforts to make smoking expensive, inconvenient, and socially frowned upon? Hell yeah!

As my husband is fond of saying, here in the SF Bay Area tobacco smoking is less socially acceptable than cannabis. "You're standing outside and the person lighting up the Marlboro is asking 'Does anybody mind?' The one lighting the joint is asking 'Anybody want a toke?'"
posted by Lexica at 2:16 PM on December 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


On failure-to-preview: Personally, I'd rather kiss an asshole than an ashtray, any day.
posted by Lexica at 2:18 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


You know what's worse than dying from smoking?

Dying from old age.

Smoking will probably kill me. Probably in a messy, unpleasant, undignified way.

But having watched one parent wither, weaken, and die, hating every minute of it, robbed of his strength and his manhood and his agency, and watched another's body well outlast her mind so that's she's literally living in hell: fuck that. I choose to go early, and I choose to do it with a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other.

I don't smoke around your kids. I don't smoke where it's not permitted. I don't drop my butts on sidewalks.

I don't need your lectures.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:19 PM on December 25, 2012 [75 favorites]


@BitterOldPunk: This times a thousand
posted by bookman117 at 2:23 PM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think this is a tricky issue. My thoughts are that dependence on most substances (certainly those with a capacity to affect your health) is a bad thing. I really dislike smoking - the suck-you-in until you're totally addicted aspect is horrible. It is a huge public health issue and it really does ruin lives.

However, I support liberalisation of drug laws for two reasons. Primarily a practical one - the war on drugs doesn't work. We know it doesn't work because its given us countless murders and a huge prison population. With almost any metric, banning drugs is a failure. The second reason is moral - I personally believe that to the extent that you're not harming others consumption of drugs shouldn't be controlled by the government.

The fuzzy line for me is the "harming others" bit. Not all drug use is a victimless crime. Sometimes the victim is someone burgled to fund a habit, and sometimes the victim is our healthcare system. It's clearly in the best interests of society to discourage (I would say prohibit, but that clearly doesn't work) harmful drug use. The benefits of heroin use are almost certainly outweighed by the costs. The benefits of drinking alcohol (I would argue) outweigh the cost (it's obviously hard to quantify, but the stress relief and increased happiness that comes from alcohol use by the general population shouldn't be underestimated).

Where smoking falls on this benefit-cost line is, to me, unclear. The health costs are obviously huge, but then perhaps the benefits smoking gives to those who smoke are worth it. Perhaps the increased productivity or better mood mean that society is better off with these people smoking. My feeling is that smoking doesn't really provide increased relaxation or stress release, but simply provides a respite from the effects of withdrawal, in which case its benefits to society are very low and its costs very high. It would be very interesting to see studies on the subject.
posted by leo_r at 2:25 PM on December 25, 2012


Do cigarettes even have tobacco in them anymore?
posted by klarck at 2:26 PM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Industries aren't allowed to dump cancer causing chemicals in the air and water and neither should smokers.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 2:26 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't drop my butts on sidewalks.

I love you, BOP, but if this is really true, it makes you the 1 in 100 smokers who don't do this.
posted by maxwelton at 2:27 PM on December 25, 2012 [30 favorites]


But having watched one parent wither, weaken, and die, hating every minute of it, robbed of his strength and his manhood and his agency

You do understand that that's how lung cancer works, yeah?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:33 PM on December 25, 2012 [69 favorites]


And no, not everyone has to partake when someone smokes. There's the outdoors.

Which I suppose is fine, if there's nobody else around in the outdoors. If you live in a city, though, chances are pretty good someone else is having a whiff of your experience too.

(And if you live in an apartment or condo, there's no "chances" -- it's all but certainly happening.)

If the way it makes the breath smell is really that awful, then there's such a thing as mint gum.

Minty bad breath is always better than bad breath. But this comment may be an example of the another inherent problem with smoking: it tends to make those who smoke less sensitive to its effects and overconfident in would-be countermeasures.
posted by weston at 2:35 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


@Blasdelb: That study defines moderate smoking as "1 to 4 cigarettes per day". When I refer to moderate smoking, I'm talking about 1 to 6 cigarettes per week, or maybe even spread out over two or three weeks, if not more.
posted by bookman117 at 2:37 PM on December 25, 2012


You do understand that that's how lung cancer works, yeah?
Lung cancer is completely different from dying in old age. For a start, it's dying in middle age.
posted by Jehan at 2:38 PM on December 25, 2012 [14 favorites]


You do understand that that's how lung cancer works, yeah?

Golly that had never occurred to me. I'll quit immediately.

We all make our choices. I've made mine. Six months in hell beats years of decline. You may disagree, and feel free to shake your head sadly over my corpse if it makes you feel better.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:40 PM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


If the way it makes the breath smell is really that awful, then there's such a thing as mint gum.

News flash for smokers whose senses of smell are shot: you don't smell like mint; you smell like a minty tire fire.

Not a lecture; just a fact. I (and many others) will avoid you, and curse your choices when we're forced to stand behind you in the grocery line, or next to you on the subway. I couldn't care less about your lifespan; I care about the assault on my senses, the same as if I were in proximity with someone allergic to bathing.
posted by supercres at 2:42 PM on December 25, 2012 [25 favorites]


Some Puritans did oppose smoking, but not because they were some sort of preposterous moralists. In the 1602 tract Worke for Chimney Sweepers, by the pseudonymous author Philaretes, the argument is that smoking causes serious health risks, similar to the illnesses suffered by chimney sweeps.

I don't argue with people's decision to smoke as long as I don't have to inhale their leavings. But it is worth noting that it isn't an entirely personal decision. My girlfriend's father smokes, and recently lost all his teeth as a result, and she knows it's causing a precipitous decline in his health, and it's just breaking her heart. She's not going to talk him out of it, and has stopped trying, and that's that, but there is no way to describe this as one man's personal decision that affects nobody but himself.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:44 PM on December 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


I am a long-time smoker who quit for two years cold turkey. Best two years of my life. Then one day I decided to just have one...

Let's just the second time around, quitting has not been so easy. The nice thing though is I recently discovered e-cigarettes. They are hard to explain to smokers. Let's just say the reality for me is I really seem to enjoy a shot of nicotine a couple of times a day, but I could really do without the emotional hangover, the coughing, the awful stench. Oh, and the stigma. It's really nice to see some no-name companies thinking outside the box. Hopefully they are healthier than real cigarettes. They certainly feel that way.
posted by phaedon at 2:45 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Besides, given that marijuana and tobacco smoke both contain many of the same carcinogens, yet cancer rates for pot smokers are far lower than those for tobacco smokers, it seems reasonable to wonder if maybe weed has some anti-cancer properties, and indeed it seems that it does. The cure for lung cancer could be just around the corner. Hell, if you don't want to wait for them to come out with a pill you could just have a toke.
posted by bookman117 at 2:50 PM on December 25, 2012


Six months in hell beats years of decline.

The chances of your dying early are increased, but not remotely guaranteed. There is a very good chance you'll live to a ripe old age, and in addition to the standard decline, you'll also have a bunch of chronic illnesses to deal with. Enjoy!

But, you know, maybe your 'decision' to continue smoking isn't as rational as you think it is. Might there be the slightest possibility that you are addicted?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:54 PM on December 25, 2012 [17 favorites]


and watched another's body well outlast her mind so that's she's literally living in hell:

Not meaning to jump on you here, BOP - you're entitled to smoke as much as you like - but smoking dramatically increases your chances of having a stroke, which sounds like exactly the kind of thing you're trying to avoid.

Smoke away if you want, but don't let it cloud your vision.
posted by smoke at 2:56 PM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


Look, you can generally support the notion that people ought to be free to enjoy their own personal vices, freedom of the individual, down with arbitrary substance bans, etc etc etc, and still feel that there should be rules and regulations that make the use of these vices restrained in ways that won't make everybody else's life worse.

Some streets are declared one-way streets. You can't be too loud in a residential area, that's disruptive. When you buy a gun there's an extensive wait time and background che—hahahahaha oops, sorry. Hopefully one day we'll live in a world where plenty more drugs of choice exist than mere tobacco, but when that world comes into being, I hope it'll have thought long and hard about what drugs are appropriate in what places, because there're some wonderfully fun drugs that we should not have completely unfettered access to.

Meth for instance! Or acid – boy is that a fun one when used right, and boy can it be disastrous when things go bad. Or sugar. I just devoured 1200 calories worth of sugar product today alone, and yes, I do kind of wish there were laws telling people not to make candy in such bulk amounts.

That last one's a bit silly, sure, but drugs and chemicals change our bodies and an individual's choice is not often enough to override the combination of physical desire and manufactured ad-lust. Saying chemical monitoring is puritanical sounds exactly as stupid as saying it's wrong to monitor guns, or cars, or anything else in society that can fuck up ourselves but more importantly others.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:58 PM on December 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, I know a lot of moderate alcohol drinkers. The casual smokers either become full-time smokers or quit. There's not much of a 3-4 cigarettes per week use case.

This is based in what, exactly? I know plenty of pack-a-month or less smokers who've been that way for decades.
posted by spaltavian at 2:59 PM on December 25, 2012


Also, I know a lot of moderate alcohol drinkers. The casual smokers either become full-time smokers or quit. There's not much of a 3-4 cigarettes per week use case.

I think you'd be surprised. In my experience, there are a great number of people who smoke cigarettes with less frequency than that. These people don't tend to identify as smokers (or else consider themselves secret smokers, closeted smokers). As with any behavior that's perceived as shameful, they don't tend to reveal themselves except to others that smoke. This is anecdotal, but Blasdelb's link above confirms it.

For people that smoke, cigarettes generally are enjoyable. Seriously. Most enjoyable when we haven't had one for a while, but even when we have. We tend to tell people otherwise, especially kids. Probably because we want more cigarettes for ourselves.

As a smoker, I can't say I particularly care. I appreciate that my breaks are spent outdoors. I appreciate that more bars have outdoor areas, and that my friends spend some time with me outdoors even when it's raining. I understand that smoke is a risk even for people around me, but I believe that those risks are probably adequately dealt with by the changes we've made in the way we smoke over the last twenty years. I can understand Daut's frustration about finding a place to smoke a cigar, and agree that there's a little more room for tolerance.

I find the judgmental thing interesting. It reminds me of how we treat obesity. There seems to be some revulsion for which medical arguments form a rationalization; and the medical arguments then drive the revulsion further. Smoking is really unhealthy, but attitudes about it seem to be about more than that. Just a shadow of how we tend to feel about obesity though. Maybe I just feel that way because, as an out smoker, I am spared the strongest statements about how revolting smoking is.
posted by nathan v at 3:00 PM on December 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


I can barely contain myself ranting on this topic. Defending tobacco like this is infuriating. I have cigarette pushers to thank for a childhood of asthma and hospitalization. The day I moved out of the house of a smoker was the day I started to learn what it was like to breathe normally.

I won't delude myself into believing prohibition is effective. Smokers, go have your dedicated cigar bars. Go ahead and smoke inside your house, but know that if you have kids, you're actively hurting them every single day. If you're outdoors, you have no idea how far that spreads and how many people you're bothering. For those of you who smoke right outside buildings and form a wall of smoke, those of you who act offended when I recoil from your horrible stench that you are incapable of noticing, and those of you who throw your waste around like it magically disappears, you are truly assholes. Those of you who choose to harm only yourself in your own home and designated places that non-smokers can avoid effortlessly, go ahead. I won't like it. I never will. Still, it's one thing I will begrudgingly tolerate that the fool of an author who wrote this tripe suggests. If you harm yourself and only yourself and never let it hurt another, then perhaps the law shouldn't intervene on that one. Still, don't kid yourself into thinking you aren't hurting yourself far more than just lung cancer.

Phaedon- They're less destructive, although I'm sure you know they're not harmless. They don't have nearly as much stench and they're far, far less harmful to others. Still not a fan, but if you simply cannot kick the habit, it's a serious improvement and I for one appreciate the effort, for what little that means.
posted by Saydur at 3:01 PM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


Dear outdoor smokers in the city: Your clothes stink, your hair stinks, your breath stinks, but your cigarette smells fucking delicious! Especially if I can smell your coffee too. Seriously, thank you for enhancing my day, and keep up the good work. Just please don't come and work in my office where I'll have to smell you.
posted by Balonious Assault at 3:07 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a bit weird for me. I have never smoked myself but hung around casinos for eight years, back when the idea of a smoke-free casino was about as likely as a gasoline-free service station, and I came to have a fondness for the thin haze of tobacco smoke that always hung in the air.

It wasn't like a secondary high, it's more that I was advantage playing and winning and having a fun time in the bargain and I came to associate that smell with the excitement of a blackjack tournament, the thrill of victory, the satisfaction of cashing in a dragline of free money coupons.

Of course I eventually came to realize everything else about the casino industry was fundamentally evil so maybe that too. But I still have a fondness for the smell. I'm sure it's an acquired taste, like my similarly acquired fondness for scotch whiskeys I can no longer afford sipped neat. But there is more to it than nuisance, addiction, and lung cancer.
posted by localroger at 3:12 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


In places where marijuana has been legalised, do laws affecting tobacco smokers affect marijuana smokers too?
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:13 PM on December 25, 2012


> "I don't drop my butts on sidewalks."

thank you for not doing the one thing that pisses me off more about smokers then anything else.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 3:21 PM on December 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Joe in Australia: "In places where marijuana has been legalised, do laws affecting tobacco smokers affect marijuana smokers too?"

That's a good question. Contrary to popular belief marijuana is not technically legal in the Netherlands, but its sale and use in small quantities is famously tolerated, which in practice means that "the sale of up to 5g of cannabis per transaction in 'coffee shops' is generally not investigated".

However, the 2008 smoking ban for bars and cafes means that while you can smoke pure marijuana in the main areas of a "coffee shop", if you mix it with tobacco you'd have to move outside or to a designated enclosed smoking area, if the venue has one.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:25 PM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


When I was home a couple years back, I went to a bar with friends. It was great, and there were some bands playing, I caught up with my friends back home. Nothing out of the ordinary. I crashed at a friends house, and when I woke up in the morning, something seemed... off. It took me about three minutes before I realized I didn't reek of smoke. It was awesome, and another thing that makes me miss Chicago.

Here in Japan, they've only recently started to curb smoking by... wait for it... banning smoking outdoors. There are areas near train stations with no smoking signs on the sidewalk, but it's barely enforced. Starbucks, when it opened, took the daring route of being non-smoking indoors, and that was (and still is) one reason why it doesn't totally dominate the market. Recently other coffee shops have begun dividing the smoking room and the non-smoking room, which generally means there's a tiny space for non-smoking, and a constantly opening door with wafts of smoke coming out. It's impossible to go out in Japan without reeking of stale smoke the next morning. Of course, all of the new restrictions are lip-service anyway, since the government owns the main tobacco company.

And seriously, cigars? The writer's thing is that cigars aren't so bad? Fuck that. The stench of a cigar is a hundred times worse than cigarettes, and I detest cigarrettes. Nothing tells me it's time to leave a bar faster than some jackass lighting up a cigar.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:33 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]



I miss living in a town with a smoking ban in bars. I got so used to it. I lived there for so long, I just internalized it, like this is normal everywhere, right? Moving to another state - I guess it's money saving, because I just don't go out hardly at all anymore -- it was a shocker to walk into a cloudy bar. The bartenders hate it, and I don't blame them - talk about environmental exposures.

I have long hair that's a pain to wash, and anytime I go out to the bar, I have to shower afterwards. My clothes stink. I've never been quite able to figure out how to get the reek out of my instrument case. And my pillow and sheets smell awful after falling into bed after a night out. Maybe I'm awfully practically minded when I think about changing my clothes to go out in terms of what's easy to wash.
Suddenly a beer with friends seems so much more labor-intensive when I think about the showering, the changing my bed, when I need to go to work, etc. When I got my sense of smell back after a few years smoking, it was revelatory.

So, I guess not banning smoking has been great for my wallet, but I'd kill for just a couple of smoke-free bars (that aren't fancy restaurants with a bar) to hang out in.
I'm all for people doing whatever the hell they want to themselves (adults are gonna do what they want to themselves), but it does have environmental effects that, say, heroin doesn't.
posted by circle_b at 3:40 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


For people that smoke, cigarettes generally are enjoyable. Seriously. Most enjoyable when we haven't had one for a while, but even when we have. We tend to tell people otherwise, especially kids. Probably because we want more cigarettes for ourselves.

When I smoked I felt that way too, I figured I would never ever quit because smoking was just so enjoyable! Then I read a book by Allen Carr and he had an analogy that struck me: He said enjoying cigarettes is like walking around all day with tight shoes on just so you could have the "pleasure" of taking them off. I pretty much quit cold turkey after reading his book, and I'll have been quit now for 7 years in January.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 3:51 PM on December 25, 2012 [17 favorites]


I recall the story back when smoking anywhere was ok. Guy on plane goes...

A surprising number of commercial airplanes still have ashtrays, or, um, gum receptacles.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:53 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Saying you'd rather die of smoking related illnesses than old age is a fantasy of perverse denial. Putting aside cancer for a moment, emphysema can be an endless, lingering, nightmarish horror. The inability to breathe is one of the worst things a person can experience (which is why the most popular forms of torture center on it). Emphysema for many is like being suffocated, repeatedly, day in and day out, and you do not get used to it. I have a very close relative who has been living with it for years, and it is not a good life.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:57 PM on December 25, 2012 [34 favorites]


I thought I'd get a head start on my New Year's resolution, so I'm on day six as a non-smoker. I already feel better. I faved this post as just another way to remember why I quit...the sheer stupidity of the habit.
posted by Mojojojo at 4:02 PM on December 25, 2012 [53 favorites]


A smokeless anywhere would be by all means be desirable; his issue seems to be with tobacco prohibition, which has zero chance of happening. So I guess his problem's already solved.

There's this wonderful area between "outright ban" and "smoke where you please". It's called "regulation". It's a great compromise. When the smoking ban in cafés, bars and restaurants was enacted in 2006 in Iceland, a great many smokers were baffled as to why anyone cared that they gave themselves cancer. The best counter I heard to this was "If you want to stay home and do lines of asbestos, go ahead. When you walk into a restaurant and start throwing fistfuls of asbestos everywhere, that's when we have a problem."

That, to me, is the heart of it. We can't put a prohibition on smoking, but we can designate areas smoke-free. This idea got a lot more traction when the business owners who were raging about losing business actually saw a spike in customers. Go figure.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:12 PM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


Also, for anyone trying to quit, there's numerous ways you can do it. Try everything. Personally, I found the Nicorette 2mg sublingual tablets did what nothing else could - got me away from tobacco and gave me that sweet, sweet nicotine that my body so craves.

OK I know nicotine isn't good for you, either. But the doctor I spoke to told me it was only a real danger if I a) had high blood pressure, b) already contend with tumors, or b) was pregnant. I think that's what he said, anyway; all I heard was "dingdingdingdingding green light!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:17 PM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Almost everywhere I go in Tucson is smoke-free now. I love it. I see a lot fewer people smoking these days, and that makes me happy.

Especially after watching my grandmother and then my mother both die of lung cancer within a four year span. The more families that can be spared that, the better.
posted by azpenguin at 4:17 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why should moderate smokers have to pay for these people's irresponsibility? And no, not everyone has to partake when someone smokes. There's the outdoors. If the way it makes the breath smell is really that awful, then there's such a thing as mint gum.

Pay? It's the same irresponsibility. It stinks and it's killing you if you have five a day or fifty a day.

the outdoors? This is a shit excuse - it's stinks out doors too - Aver walked behind a smoker? Past a building where smokers are huddled in doorways. The outdoor seating - it sinks which means non-smokers are denied the sunshine and fresh air. Fuck smokers.

Mint gum? It's not your breath. That's the least of it. It's your clothes, hair, skin, hands - its YOU.
posted by the noob at 4:21 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's crazy how oblivious you are to the smell when you're a smoker. It took about a week after I quit for my sense of smell to really come back, and then I understood. When coworkers would come in from their breaks I'd smell them from 10 feet away. If someone came too close to me after smoking I'd actually feel nauseous. I still can't handle the smell, if I set foot 5 minutes in a casino I smell it on me for hours afterwards.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 4:24 PM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's crazy how oblivious you are to the smell when you're a smoker.

Yes. Case in point: the idea that mint gum will cover the smell. The smell isn't coming from your mouth alone; it's rising up from your lungs through your mouth. For best results, grind up half a candy cane, pour the dust into a coffee filter, hold over your mouth and nose and inhale deeply.

Merry Christmas!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:26 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have zero interest in getting into yet another firefight about smoking (I am a smoker) a la "I don't care if it's outdoors, you stink!" or smoking bans (the usual hilarious conversation starts somewhere with "restaurant workers shouldn't have to breathe your poison" [even before the ban, I smoked outside almost always]) and generally end with variations on the theme of "I work in a bar and now I don't have to do laundry every night!")

(I'm getting overly parenthetical here, but just as a note, I don't tend to smoke in bars/restaurants that might even allow it.)

I will just say this, for probably no real reason, other than that it kind of stuck with me. The last time I got chided publicly for smoking on the street was when in Seattle I was puffing away and got a big stinkface and shaming from a woman on the sidewalk. "Nice habit," she said. "It's disgusting."

This was waiting at a crosswalk for a light that would allow us to cross an I-5 onramp. I-5 was about 100 feet away from us. Yes, I'm the big smell going on here.

I've tried a couple times to quit. I failed. And now I live in Istanbul (really). Looks like I'll be wheezing for a few more months at least.
posted by Skot at 4:49 PM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


This was waiting at a crosswalk for a light that would allow us to cross an I-5 onramp. I-5 was about 100 feet away from us. Yes, I'm the big smell going on here.

Yes, you probably were. That smokers don't really understand this is a big part of the problem.
posted by kafziel at 5:00 PM on December 25, 2012 [16 favorites]


This was waiting at a crosswalk for a light that would allow us to cross an I-5 onramp. I-5 was about 100 feet away from us. Yes, I'm the big smell going on here.
Well, to many (most?) people, you would in fact be causing the most objectionable smell in that immediate area. I think cigarette smoke is yuckier than car exhaust.
posted by JeffL at 5:00 PM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I spent an evening in a bar last week for the first time in over a decade and it was an amazingly enjoyable experience compared to pre-smoking ban (BC essentially has a ban on smoking in indoor public spaces). I was flabbergasted how much the second hand smoke affected me even setting aside the smell that permeated your outer wear and hair.

When I think of all those times I avoided seeing live music because of the lingering affects I wish the ban had been in effect 20 years ago.
posted by Mitheral at 5:02 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have a sneaking suspicion that former smokers find the smell of cigarette smoke much less pleasant than never-smokers or current smokers (who can't really smell it anyway). I've never found it terribly offensive. I do find day old stale smoke clothes rather foul smelling, though. That said, I've never felt like I have any grounds to complain about how people smell.
posted by wierdo at 5:04 PM on December 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Joe in Australia: "In places where marijuana has been legalised, do laws affecting tobacco smokers affect marijuana smokers too?"

In San Francisco, those dispensaries that allow onsite medicating are the ones that provide vaporizers (for example). There's no smoking allowed on-premises.
posted by Lexica at 5:04 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The nice thing though is I recently discovered e-cigarettes. They are hard to explain to smokers. Let's just say the reality for me is I really seem to enjoy a shot of nicotine a couple of times a day, but I could really do without the emotional hangover, the coughing, the awful stench. Oh, and the stigma. It's really nice to see some no-name companies thinking outside the box. Hopefully they are healthier than real cigarettes. They certainly feel that way.

E-cigs have been one of the best purchases I've ever made. It's definitely something that requires some research first - like many people, I started with a Blu kit and learned quickly that it sucked, moved up to a Volt cig-alike, then eGo, then onto a variable voltage mod. It's fantastic compared to cigarettes. My senses of taste and smell are back, I can breathe, I have energy. I could not successfully quit cigarettes before. A lot of the time people are introduced via crappy gas station or mall kiosk e-cigs, which are TERRIBLE, but when you get a decent device (which is not very expensive) and decent juice it's amazing.

The lack of good studies on e-juice is annoying, but I feel completely confident using it over cigarettes. There's good material on existing studies here.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:15 PM on December 25, 2012 [14 favorites]


Turns out that cigars pose as great a health risk as cigarettes, even though cigar smoke isn't inhaled.

The assumption there is that one smokes cigars like a like nicotine addict smokes cigarettes. And I'm sure that some do. But I don't. I might smoke fifty or a hundred Meharis a year. These are small, not much bigger than a king-size cigarette. I feel no chemical compulsion. I just enjoy one, usually with a drink, once or twice a week. It's a truly pleasurable experience -- the richness of the smoke and the subtlety of the "high".

I get that cigar smoke is offensive to many and thus tend not to smoke them when non-smokers are around, certainly not without asking permission first. But it's worth noting, I hear a lot of music that offends me. Sometimes I leave the room. Sometimes I just put up with it. Bad music doesn't cause cancer, you say? How do you know? Just because it has been proven yet.

Bottom line, in a complex culture such as ours, you don't always get what you want. And this law really should cut both ways.
posted by philip-random at 5:19 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


OT: "Bad music doesn't cause cancer" - Bad music is cancer.
posted by Ardiril at 5:27 PM on December 25, 2012


If you invented a car system that turned down the volume of the radio/stereo when the windows were wound down, I'ld support making that as mandatory as a smoking ban.
posted by Jehan at 5:28 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yes, you probably were. That smokers don't really understand this is a big part of the problem.

I will attempt to peacefully engage you on this question. I was standing well away from the woman as I smoked at the crosswalk. Are you insinuating that my second-hand smoke was somehow more deleterious than the exhaust fumes surrounding us? Respectfully, the glib "smokers just don't get it" line is sort of willfully obtuse in the interest of making a stab. I apologize if I'm misreading your intent.

And to JeffL: I think cigarette smoke is yuckier than car exhaust.

Well, fair enough. It might have contributed to my adult brain damage (not really) that as a kid, I thought vehicle exhaust smelled awesome. I guess what I'm trying to say is, yes, I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT SMOKING SUCKS. We shouldn't do it; God only knows who decided it was a good idea. I wish I didn't smoke But I do. I'm not sure that unrelieved censure is the way to go on curbing it, is all. And with that, I'll bow out, because I'll probably just piss more people off.
posted by Skot at 5:36 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you invented a car system that turned down the volume of the radio/stereo when the windows were wound down, I'ld support making that as mandatory as a smoking ban.

On my car, the sound system automatically raises the volume when I lower the top.
posted by cytherea at 5:37 PM on December 25, 2012


If you invented a car system that turned down the volume of the radio/stereo when the windows were wound down, I'ld support making that as mandatory as a smoking ban.

Especially Bruno Mars
posted by the noob at 5:38 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love how you presume that smoking in moderation, of cigarettes OR cigars, won't give you cancer. Because, y'know, you're not doing it much. You may not get cancer, but your chances are greatly increased by using tobacco products, whether in what you deem to be "moderation" or otherwise.
posted by raysmj at 5:38 PM on December 25, 2012


The assumption there is that one smokes cigar like a like nicotine addict smokes cigarettes.

There is no such assumption. Studies show that cigars (and pipes), when smoked in their usual manner and frequency, cause cancer (etc.), period. Some studies even indicate a higher risk of smoking-related ailments in cigar smokers than in cigarette smokers. Cancer just tends to manifest higher up in the respiratory system (throat, mouth) than it does with cigarettes.

I might smoke fifty or a hundred Meharis a year. These are small, not much bigger than a king-size cigarette.

None of which have filters, and all of which contain more tobacco and WAY more nicotine than a cigarette.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:39 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just devoured 1200 calories worth of sugar product today alone, and yes, I do kind of wish there were laws telling people not to make candy in such bulk amounts.

This summarizes a great deal of the MF banning inclination.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 5:44 PM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I have a sneaking suspicion that former smokers find the smell of cigarette smoke much less pleasant than never-smokers or current smokers (who can't really smell it anyway).

I may be the exception, but I'm a former smoker who has always loved the smell of cigarettes (while they're being smoked, not when their stale stink lingers on the person who smoked them). Still do. Cigarettes smell good -- with the possible exception of Winstons, which taste and smell like anus. Like you, I don't really ever feel like I have grounds to complain about the way people smell, so I tolerate the smell of stale smoke on others silently. But I don't enjoy it.

Which brings me to the people who feel the need to tell strangers how disgusting they are when they are smoking, or my favorites, the people who do that little passive aggressive, fake cough as they pass you while you're smoking on the sidewalk. How appropriate that the example of this given above happened in Seattle. When I quit smoking I rediscovered that downtown Seattle often reeks of urine. I never once saw one of the fake-coughers scrunching up their delicate little noses at that. Nor at the belching exhaust of the cars, the fishy stink of low tide, or any of the other smells you experience in the city on a daily basis. I'm with you on this one, Skot. Those people are simply assholes. Maybe it's just a Seattle thing. This city does seem to breed a particularly odious strain of self-righteous jerk.
posted by Balonious Assault at 5:47 PM on December 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


In a complex culture such as ours, you don't always get what you want.

When it comes to smokers polluting the air in public places, I do.

Smoke as much as you like - in a place where you don't inflict your habit on others.
posted by Pudhoho at 5:49 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to smoke a pack a day, but I've cut back quite a bit. Not really sure how I did it and it wasn't conscious. Now I smoke maybe a pack a month and will go a week without one.

At this point I consider it a pleasant way to punctuate social interactions. I should probably just quit entirely, but I enjoy grabbing a smoke while I'm out with with other smoker friends.
posted by brundlefly at 6:01 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


My 23 year old daughter is a smoker—she "chose" this option when she was about 14. Previous attempts to quit have ended in relapse.

This same kid dropped heroin more than 6 years ago, following one round of treatment at a residential facility.

I get a bit of consolation in the knowledge that since I was almost 35 when she was born, I'm not likely to be around to witness most of the particulars regarding how this addiction diminishes (or takes) her life, should she not be able to overcome it.
posted by she's not there at 6:09 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm opposed to a complete ban of tobacco products for the same reason I'm opposed to the ban on pot: the difficulties of enforcing such a ban would outweigh any effect to the good.

You can ban something without strong enforcement. You can outlaw cigarettes without declaring a War On Tobacco, or maybe only go after large companies, those that have a need for legitimacy. You might end up with something that looks like the small-scale marijuana dispensaries now evolving in Washington and Colorado. The idea is to lessen the economics of scale behind large-scale cultivation of tobacco. Let people who really want it get it, but have them pay more for it, not just from taxes but from lessened supply.
posted by JHarris at 6:17 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why is this even still an issue? We know they're chronically unhealthy, we know they're chronically addictive. Just ban them already.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:20 PM on December 25, 2012


Because prohibition in the face of wide spread demand leads to clusterfucks like the war on some drugs and alcohol prohibition. Strong enough demand coupled with rigourous enforcement leads to worse outcomes than a legal and regulated drug.

Skot writes "I thought vehicle exhaust smelled awesome."

Ah GAWD; the smell of leaded, high octane gas burned in a high compression high overlap big block is nirvana. If they made air fresheners in that scent I'd buy them in a heart beat.
posted by Mitheral at 6:25 PM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why is this even still an issue? We know they're chronically unhealthy, we know they're chronically addictive. Just ban them already.

I was typing almost literally the same sentence; there's simply no good reason to allow the sale of addictive poison. The reason is the same reason everything else is terrible, though, of course: there's too money locked up in tobacco's growing, manufacture, sale, and taxation for us to do anything like the sensible, socially rational thing.

At the very, very absolute least, the "You can't buy cigarettes if you were born before X" line ought to be made permanent; save the next generation, if it's "not politically possible" to save this one.
posted by gerryblog at 6:26 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Because prohibition in the face of wide spread demand leads to clusterfucks like the war on some drugs and alcohol prohibition.

You could cut down on tobacco consumption by a massive amount if you simply banned the industrial manufacture and corporate sale of cigarettes. Some diehards would grow their own or import, but you'd cut the numbers down a lot, with no downside.
posted by gerryblog at 6:29 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Advanced heart disease taught me that everyone must resolve their own personal equation of quality of life versus quantity of life.
posted by Ardiril at 6:33 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


>the people who do that little passive aggressive, fake cough as they pass you while you're smoking on the sidewalk

You misunderstand. It's a defensive reaction against your gummy crud irritating our noses and settling in our throats and even lungs. Some of us are much more sensitive than you and could never smoke.

And the traffic? Well, cars have a lot of controls on their exhaust nowadays, but your cigarette produces thousands of chemicals, some of which are unsafe at any concentration, such as benzene. Diesel trucks are still bad. But your cigarette is frequently at face level, much higher than the car exhausts. And the smoke is swirling along the air currents on the sidewalk, whereas the car exhaust is in a different path of air currents on the road.

I'm sure most smokers wouldn't want to admit the above is possible, but it's nice to see that lots of people feel as I do about this disgusting and irritating exposure on the streets, ie OUTDOORS where I would like to enjoy the general environment and often can't. As someone else mentioned, we in BC have basically total smoking ban indoors, and so all that yuck is now outdoors and generally in everyone's face. If it was once a year I wouldn't complain, but it's several times a day and impossible to avoid when I am OUTDOORS. I'll be glad to get out of the city again.
posted by Listener at 6:44 PM on December 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


This is how I handle smoking. When I find out a new friend smokes, I say to them "I'm only going to say this once, 'cause I know smokers hate to hear it, but it's important to me. Smoking is really bad for you, and you shouldn't do it. There we go, I'll never bring it up again." And I don't.

With you guys, I feel like I can say what I really want to say, which is that I watched my favorite aunt die from lung cancer and how it devastated my family. I know what my cousin's three kids are missing from a grandmother even if they don't.

Molly started smoking when she was twelve and quit early when her daughters were born. Still far too late. Do you have kids? Nephews? Grandchildren? People who don't want you in pain?

Ban tobacco, don't ban tobacco, it doesn't matter. There is some worth in smoking interesting cigarettes to meet interesting people. But my family has borne the worst-case scenario, and no one who remembers will choose to subject the family to that again. Experience is a costly teacher; learn from Molly's example.

That's all.
posted by infinitewindow at 6:46 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Smoke as much as you like - in a place where you don't inflict your habit on others.

It's not a habit for me [ie: a routine of behavior which is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously], just something I consciously enjoy once in a while. There's a difference. As for inflicting it on others, like I said in my original comment, I try not to do this. But it's worth throwing it back -- is there nothing that gives you pleasure that doesn't inflict the opposite on others?
posted by philip-random at 6:50 PM on December 25, 2012


Hey people have the right to stink of smoke.

I'd just like to ban them from public transit because barf.
posted by srboisvert at 6:54 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not just that I don't like the smell of smoke, I have trouble breathing around it. After quitting smoking I seem to have become asthmatic... smoked for years with no lung problems and it only started AFTER I quit, sucks.

I also really hate people that reek of cologne, so it's not just smoke!
posted by Hazelsmrf at 6:55 PM on December 25, 2012


I think I can appease all parties here, and suggest we ban people. Seems like they're all assholes.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:57 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Studies show that cigars (and pipes), when smoked in their usual manner and frequency, cause cancer (etc.), period. Some studies even indicate a higher risk of smoking-related ailments in cigar smokers than in cigarette smokers. Cancer just tends to manifest higher up in the respiratory system (throat, mouth) than it does with cigarettes.

I read all three links in Pudhoho's comment. None offers anything quantitative about how much cigar smoke is too much, except stuff like "... There is no safe tobacco product, and there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke." Which is frankly bullshit. Is smoking one cigarette a year going to give me cancer?
posted by philip-random at 6:57 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I watched my dad struggle to quit, till the years of addiction finally triggered a stroke that led to his final decline. He never saw me graduate college, get married, or have the son who reminds me so very much of him. I will never see cigarettes as a harmless thing, although I don't believe in bans. I know exactly what harm they cause to those around the smoker.
posted by emjaybee at 7:03 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


let me introduce y'all to my favorite vice. romeo y julieta snus yes, that romeo.

Snus, itself comes bagged up, you slip it under your lip and have a nice buzz for a moment, and since its of the "white" variety, it doesnt have that tarry runoff when the pouch gets wet, no stained teeth.

And on topic, its called a VICE not a BOON.
posted by xcasex at 7:15 PM on December 25, 2012


as a kid, I thought vehicle exhaust smelled awesome.

I remember this kid in middle school who used to eat pencil leads and lick ashtrays.

You can outlaw cigarettes without declaring a War On Tobacco

I'm skeptical that tobacco could be outlawed without declaring such a war, with much the same effects as our current wars. But that isn't to say that I'm opposed to the regulation of tobacco, maybe even more strictly than it is now.

is there nothing that gives you pleasure that doesn't inflict the opposite on others?

It is possible that to this point my very existence has been offensive to others without my knowledge, but next to that I can't really think of any pleasure of mine that both offends others and is likely to make them ill. Do you think I should try to acquire one?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:21 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't trust any writer who doesn't know his name is C. Everett Coop.
posted by Gungho at 7:22 PM on December 25, 2012


As for inflicting it on others, like I said in my original comment, I try not to do this. But it's worth throwing it back -- is there nothing that gives you pleasure that doesn't inflict the opposite on others?

I used to use this retort when I smoked, too, and it really doesn't hold up. For one, it doesn't make smoking around other people any better. For another, you actually used music you don't like as an equivalent to carcinogenic fumes. And if you avoid smoking around people that don't want to breathe it anyway, there's no real point in a kind of insinuation that displeasure of tobacco smoke is a form of hypocrisy.

I'm seeing smokers and non-smokers alike making a lot of assumptions about what the other person thinks and does. Strange, when there are so many who've been on both sides of this. I seriously doubt smokers are utterly oblivious to the health risks or that many people dislike the smell, just as I doubt most non-smokers are preachy busybodies who enjoying lecturing others on the obvious.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:25 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've noticed that many young conservatives seem to be smoking these days. It is like some weird social signal thing.
posted by humanfont at 7:38 PM on December 25, 2012


Curse Sir Walter Raleigh he was such a stupid get.
posted by telstar at 7:54 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm allergic to cigarette smoke. If I'm around you, and you're smoking, I will start coughing, whether we're indoors or outdoors. Thankfully my state has banned indoor smoking, my parents quit when I was very young (due to my allergy), and I make it a point not to be friends with smokers. Sorry, but your habit is objectively different than other vices: by engaging in it, you make my life worse.

Furthermore, this (and various other, thankfully relatively minor, negative penalties to my health) happened because my mom smoked while pregnant, before she knew she was pregnant with me.

Fuck tobacco.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:06 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Many people self-medicated their ADD, which hadn't been as widely diagnosed, with cigarettes.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:25 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think that smokers focus too much on thinking that non smokers just think it is "stinky". I have asthma. I cannot breathe when you smoke around me. I have a friend that smokes. He smokes on the back porch and I cannot even sit out there with him. He knows this and accepts that's the situation. Those complaining about people coughing? My primary asthma symptom is coughing. I try to get some control and keep it from being a coughing fit.

I cannot think of any other action people do for pleasure that can actually make me sick. And by sick, I don't mean the "ewwww that stinks, looks yucky, etc I'm gonna hurl" sick.

Also, when there are several smokers gathered at a doorway - that I must pass through - you are affecting my health.

I don't mind when there are smoking areas outdoors that are out of the way of where I and others must pass.

Mind you -- I'm against bans. Bans in the US always turn into "War on...." debacles.

But - smokers don't kid yourself that your smoking doesn't affect other people's health.

Smokers who realize this and mitigate the damage, I thank you!
posted by Librarygeek at 8:33 PM on December 25, 2012 [15 favorites]


It's simple folks, the government should not outlaw particular recreational highs/effects outright, but it should regulate how said recreational highs are obtained.

I've against outlawing nicotine, but not necessarily against outlawing smoking. I'm against outlawing all recreational heroin-like drugs, but krokodil producers and dealers should spend years in jail. etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:56 PM on December 25, 2012


I just hope they ban wearing perfume in public as well as chewing with your mouth open.
posted by stp123 at 9:16 PM on December 25, 2012


octobersurprise writes "I remember this kid in middle school who used to eat pencil leads and lick ashtrays."

Pencil lead is just graphite; as potentially harmful substances go it's pretty low risk.
posted by Mitheral at 9:30 PM on December 25, 2012


stp123: "I just hope they ban wearing perfume in public..."

I would seriously support this.
posted by brundlefly at 9:37 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just hope they ban wearing perfume in public as well as chewing with your mouth open.

This, times one fucking hundred. I work with someone who I can literally TRACK LIKE A BLOODHOUND because she's so perfume-soaked. If she's stationary, I can identify her by smell from over 15 feet away. I have never met a smoker who was that stinky, and I know some regular smokers.

I've never been a smoker, but you know what? I'm fine with you guys. If you want to quit, quit, if you want to smoke, smoke. I'm not going to be the one to get all bossy in your face.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 9:39 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Curse Sir Walter Raleigh he was such a stupid get git.

FTFY.
posted by mediated self at 9:54 PM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I love tobacco. It induces a pleasant high that enhances creativity to a nearly unimaginable degree and overcomes inertia, promoting thought into action.

Cigarette smokers or habitual chewers will have no idea what I'm talking about.

Those who indulge occasionally with a nice cigar or a beautifully packed bowl will understand.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:55 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


As we were outside, on the sidewalk, for a smoke break one of the smokers popped the question.
"Can you imagine a day in not so distant a future, when THEY will come and mow us down with
a machine gun?"
" But machine guns are illegal" was one shy dismissal of that scenario but the consensus was "Yes we would be a very easy target, lined here on the curb."
posted by TRAJAN at 10:44 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Some comments deleted. "didn't read any comments but..." I want to pop in to fling accusations is a very bad way to participate.]
posted by taz at 11:00 PM on December 25, 2012


gerryblog: "Because prohibition in the face of wide spread demand leads to clusterfucks like the war on some drugs and alcohol prohibition.

You could cut down on tobacco consumption by a massive amount if you simply banned the industrial manufacture and corporate sale of cigarettes. Some diehards would grow their own or import, but you'd cut the numbers down a lot, with no downside.
"

No, you'd create a massive black market.
posted by double block and bleed at 11:03 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, you'd create a massive black market.

Is that really true?
posted by tychotesla at 11:10 PM on December 25, 2012


I am in a "mixed" relationship, I am the nonsmoker. I have a best friend who is a smoker. I support the smoking regulations that exist already (in San Francisco and California) and probably more. The people I care about who are smokers are doing their best to not annoy anyone including with respect to smoking. I agree that the public health concerns are paramount. I would also add that sometimes in these discussions the descriptions of smokers are so negative that I sort of get hurt feelings on behalf of my friends and loved ones who smoke.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:19 PM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think the failed war on drugs is a good predictor that it is.
posted by double block and bleed at 11:20 PM on December 25, 2012


Also, for anyone trying to quit, there's numerous ways you can do it. Try everything.

Smoking cessation research shows that success is most strongly correlated with the number of times a smoker has tried to quit. Which is kind of "Well, duh!" if you think about it. But I still think it's helpful to point out that most successful quitters try many times before they kick the habit.
posted by straight at 11:22 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


the word 'ban' is being thrown around way too freely here, even if it is from drunken christmas revelers (imo)
posted by mannequito at 11:23 PM on December 25, 2012


Hmm. I understand that there is a great deal of emotion invested in smoking. For many, it does smell bad. And the smoke from a cigarette is an extremely toxic substance--at least if chronically inhaled over a long term. (I think the mortality rate for 40 pack-years is 50%--in other words, if you smoke a pack a day for forty years, the likely hood that that smoking will be the cause of your death is 1 in 2--so the napkin calculation suggests that every time you have a cigarette, it's like putting a gun to your head with 584,000 chambers, one of which contains a bullet. That might not seem like much, but then, putting the gun to your head 7300 times a year is less trivial).

Of course, the lying by the tobacco industries was clearly and deeply immoral. Perhaps not quite Atoms for Peace evil, but definitely evil. On the other hand, I'm not so sure that an individual who chooses to smoke deserves to be placed in that same category. The risks from second-hand smoke are real, but relatively minor, and could be easily accommodated with designated zones. And yet the moral disapprobation approaches Hester Prynne levels. I think this moral witch hunt could be better directed towards economic inequality, mercury levels in seafood, food and water scarcity in developing nations, etc.

I know the pain that comes from seeing close relative suffer from emphysema. It's almost unbearable. But it shouldn't be any more unbearable than someone I don't know dying from starvation half a world away. It is, but it shouldn't be.

In fact, I think if we take a step away from the immediate moral implications, towards a more universal, more coherent ethical stance, it's difficult to not acknowledge that smoking is a universal force for the good. I used to think that nuclear power was a force for evil--but it was only after Chernobyl, and the resplendent return of wildlife to the vicinities that I recognized that nuclear power could be a powerful force for the preservation of our planet. I'm sure you know that the greatest danger that faces not only mankind, but many of our animal brothers and sisters is human overpopulation and the disastrous climate change our presence is causing. Is the estimate one third of species will go extinct? And how many people will suffer from starvation or drowning?

Honestly, anything that can help cut down on the human population is a god-send. Smokers are angels. We should treat them as self-sacrificing heros, and encourage as many people who are willing to give up a few decades of their life for the common good as possible.

Now, perhaps we could achieve that without tobacco: birth-control, education, jubilee, a global economic safety-net. But until then, let's not discard one of the most effective tools in our toolbox.
posted by cytherea at 11:42 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the failed war on drugs is a good predictor that it is.

Is it though? The failed war on drugs comes in many parts.

For example, Marijuana has had a lot of barking about it, but the product itself has little bite. People picked up on that. Tobacco does have a bite, which makes it a very different product.
posted by tychotesla at 12:03 AM on December 26, 2012


No, you'd create a massive black market.

Is that really true?


Yes. We've actually already created a cigarette black market through high taxation.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 12:28 AM on December 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Honestly, anything that can help cut down on the human population is a god-send. Smokers are angels. We should treat them as self-sacrificing heros, and encourage as many people who are willing to give up a few decades of their life for the common good as possible.

What an interesting idea. Perhaps the government should set up suicide encouragement hotlines, start a few big conscription-fueled wars, and resume poisoning people in order to speed the process along. After all, it's for the common good, as you say.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 12:48 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes. We've actually already created a cigarette black market through high taxation.

I realize that, but contextually that's not the right answer.

gerryblog: You could cut down on tobacco consumption by a massive amount if you simply banned the industrial manufacture and corporate sale of cigarettes. Some diehards would grow their own or import, but you'd cut the numbers down a lot, with no downside.

double block and bleed: No, you'd create a massive black market.

tychotesla: Is that really true?

And then a little more about drug wars.

"People would just get it on the black market" is waaaaaaaaay too simplistic. People respond to incentives, such as having to get something on the black market. The question here should not be whether people respond to incentives, but at what point the costs exceed the benefits. That would be a fine thing to argue.
posted by tychotesla at 12:58 AM on December 26, 2012


But having watched one parent wither, weaken, and die, hating every minute of it, robbed of his strength and his manhood and his agency, and watched another's body well outlast her mind so that's she's literally living in hell: fuck that.

I'm maybe a bit late to join the pile-on, but I wanted to add this: at age 6, my wife witnessed the long and distressing agony of her grandfather from lung cancer. The coughing and wheezing, the pain, the oxygen bottles, the feeling of impending death.
To say that she loathes tobacco and the entire industry around it would be a bit of an understatement...
Smoking is not the right choice if you're aiming for a good death.
posted by Skeptic at 1:22 AM on December 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


This thread is a pretty good reminder that socialization has an enormous, blinding influence on what we find disgusting or morally repugnant.

I recommend rereading it, mentally replacing "smokers" with "meat eaters" every time you hit a comment about how bad they smell. (I grew up with religious vegetarians.)

nathan v  I find the judgmental thing interesting. It reminds me of how we treat obesity. There seems to be some revulsion for which medical arguments form a rationalization; and the medical arguments then drive the revulsion further. Smoking is really unhealthy, but attitudes about it seem to be about more than that.

Yeah. I agree. While I know that a massive shift in social pressures is responsible for a lot of the American decline in cigarette smoking, I still find it troubling to read the things people are saying about their fellow human beings as a result. But it is interesting how effectively we use disgust or a suggestion of contamination to distance ourselves from people whose habits or background we don't like.
posted by hat at 1:26 AM on December 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


What an interesting idea. Perhaps the government should set up suicide encouragement hotlines, start a few big conscription-fueled wars, and resume poisoning people in order to speed the process along. After all, it's for the common good, as you say.

I think the concept of a 1/3 species die-off and a 2-5 C degree average warming might just be a bit too abstract a concept to understand vicerally exactly what that would mean in terms of real, genuine, horrific human suffering.

We are pretty much caught between a rock and a hard place, the devil and the deep blue sea. I think we can agree that providing free education, especially to women, as well as free birth control should be primary goals. Can we achieve those things? Maybe. But it will probably take too long to prevent the catastrophic species collapse.

I think it's eminently reasonable to asses our situation, and try to proceed in the least harming manner forward. I think it's clear that our peak population of perhaps as few as 9 billion people striving for western convenience is many times more than our little blue marble can sustain.

I don't think there are any easy choices left. That doesn't mean that we can't try to walk on the most ethical paths we have available. I think making suicide available and painless would be a great relief for many, and a genuinely good thing. I'd rather not have wars of attrition, state sponsored culling, or mass starvation. Those sound extreme--but global warming is real. Voluntary non-breeding and/or smoking seem like very palatable options.
posted by cytherea at 1:35 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Curse Sir Walter Raleigh he was such a stupid get git.

FTFY.


? ('git' is derived from 'get' [meaning bastard]. 'Get' is the more comman usage in N. England and Scotland).
posted by titus-g at 2:07 AM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


People who start prattling on about how there are too many humans on the planet to live sustainabky should take the hint already and do the obvious deed.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:14 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Let's drop the overpopulation derail, please.]
posted by taz at 2:21 AM on December 26, 2012


Also, for anyone trying to quit, there's numerous ways you can do it. Try everything. Personally, I found the Nicorette 2mg sublingual tablets did what nothing else could - got me away from tobacco and gave me that sweet, sweet nicotine that my body so craves.

All of the nicotine replacement therapies just kept me addicted to nicotine. Champix, on the other hand, got me off a two pack a day habit without any cravings whatsoever. I quit about eighteen months ago.

Last week, I took part in a research study on COPD that measures my lung capacity. After smoking two packs a day for thirty years, the tests said that I have 98% of the expected lung capacity for somebody of my age.

If it wasn't for the cost of the damn things, I'd take it up again in a flash!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:29 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I've never smoked myself, other than when very very drunk when suddenly bmming a fag seemed a good idea. But I did live together for the best part of a decade with somebody who smoked, and rather a lot at that. As with many other people here, I was always rather sensitive to smoke, but that started to change once we had lived together for long enough. I actually miss the smell of cigarette smoke sometimes.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:40 AM on December 26, 2012


so wait isn't weed just as bad, though

it smells as bad!
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:09 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Its not just America, its even more critical in the parts of the developing world where you can easily buy a pack of Marlboros for the local equivalent of a dollar - yes $1 - to lower the barriers to adoption by the lower income segments.

Its a systems problem that needs fixing on a global scale.

I've been reading this thread and the bile spewed against people like me.

But attacking me will not solve the real issue, which is the free distribution of cigarettes among college students in Bangalore as "samples" or the unchecked unregulated availability and purchase of this poison or the pricing strategies that make this so very attractive around the world where neither advertising is regulated nor Big Tobacco.

Don't stop your laws at the shores of America.

Don't turn us third worlders far away into addicts either.

-------------------------------

MANY people have seen the smoking baby on YouTube - the chubby, cheerful two-year-old from Sumatra with a pack-a-day habit. But Ardi Rizal was not a one-off curiosity. In the land of the child smoker, he is one of scores of toddlers and preschoolers addicted to nicotine.

Muhammad Dihan Awalidan is one. He's four years old, smoked his first cigarette at 2½, and gets through a pack of 25 a day. He started when he stole one of his father's cigarettes and lit it on the kitchen stove.

His parents, Iyan Ansori and mother Sulawati, are farmers from a hillside village in West Java. They know their son's habit is unhealthy, but feel powerless to stop him. He walks down to the local warung, or cafe, to buy his own cigarettes, sometimes staying for a coffee as well. If he's denied, ''it's like he's possessed, he really wants it'', says Iyan, who smokes a few cigarettes a day himself.


--------------


* Documentary: Sex, Lies and Cigarettes - How Big Tobacco is targeting kids in developing countries


----------

Dakar, Senegal – October 1, 2012 –Africa is a major target for tobacco industry sales and marketing according to the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation, who released the French version of The Tobacco Atlas – Fourth Edition today. The Ministry of Health of Senegal joined the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation to warn citizens here and across the continent of this looming public health threat. Cigarette consumption in Africa and the Middle East increased by 57% between 1990 and 2009. Experts predict devastating health and economic harm in Africa without aggressive interventions in tobacco control.

------------------

Prior studies describe the emergence of new markets for tobacco products and the exportation of successful marketing strategies from developed countries to the developing world. However, much of the research to date has been region specific, highlighting the marketing efforts and strategies in specific countries such as Sri Lanka,2 China,3 Hungary,4 Myanmar,5 or Indonesia.6 While some international cigarette brands are concentrated in certain regions (such as State Express 555 in Asia),7,8 others, such as Marlboro and Camel, are recognised all over the world, particularly among the young.8–13
posted by infini at 4:18 AM on December 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


One week off twelve years free of the little bastards. Thank Gob.
posted by Wolof at 4:53 AM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


About a year ago last week, I managed to quit after 20-something years as a smoker. Tried a dozen times or so to quit, but what finally made me able to quit was sex.

For some reason, they never tell you that your man-parts work a lot better when you're smoke/nicotine free. At least, mine did. More oxygen, better shape, whatever, but it was the thing that got me to quit.

I definitely feel better. MUCH better. And while I don't hate the smell of smoke, I have to be VERY careful about my drinking, because my anti-smoking defenses plummet if I drink too much.

I'm 38 and scared now. I still have trouble taking a full, super-deep breath, but it's getting a skosh better. I worry about the damage I did for 20 years.
posted by Thistledown at 5:30 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jesus, was this fawning article written by Malcolm Gladwell?
posted by clvrmnky at 5:43 AM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lexica: As my husband is fond of saying, here in the SF Bay Area tobacco smoking is less socially acceptable than cannabis. "You're standing outside and the person lighting up the Marlboro is asking 'Does anybody mind?' The one lighting the joint is asking 'Anybody want a toke?'"

And this is why I disliked going to live music shows when I lived in SF. Not gonna name the venue[1], but they have NO SMOKING signs all over the place and *rabid* enforcement of that... when it comes to tobacco. But, light up a joint, and the bouncers are more than happy to leave you alone (or even share!). I go to shows to listen to music - not to get drunk, not to get high, not to leave smelling like an ashtray OR like Otto's jacket.



[1] Sounds like 'The Millmore'
posted by hanov3r at 6:24 AM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


"But having watched one parent wither, weaken, and die, hating every minute of it, robbed of his strength and his manhood and his agency..."

My grandmother is 90, and is now in the early stages of withering and weakening. She has smoked her entire life, and the smoking is making it much worse, if not causing it. Don't discount the possibility that this could happen to you. Also, don't discount the possibility that this could happen to you at 60, rather than 90. Dying young does not make it any more likely that your death will not be humiliating, slow and painful, especially if you smoke.

I do think the anti-smoking puritanism in the US has gone a bit too far (park bans? really?) and that the health impacts of second-hand smoke, while real, are overblown. But it's still a horribly unhealthy habit, and with no real benefit, even in terms of fun.

I'm talking here of cigarette smoking; cigars and pipes are unhealthy, too, but not as habit-forming. The most unhealthy aspect of cigarettes is not the tobacco, it's the nicotine, which makes you crave it such that it is very difficult to consume cigarettes in moderation. Most casual smokers either become regular smokers, stop smoking, or smoke so infrequently that you could barely even call them casual smokers.
posted by breakin' the law at 7:10 AM on December 26, 2012


If it wasn't for the cost of the damn things, I'd take it up again in a flash!

I think this just shows that a cigarette addiction is mostly mental. You have the nicotine completely out of your system and you still want them. You can use whatever products to quit smoking but if you don't manage to convince yourself that you don't want them anymore it seems that you'll be at risk for a relapse.

What really surprised me when I smoked was how people went on and on and on about how HARD it was to quit smoking. How nicotine was such a harsh thing to quit. How going cold turkey was way too difficult. How people had tried 20 times to quit and couldn't. This made me feel like it was futile to even attempt it. And besides, I loved my addiction. The day I convinced myself that I did NOT love my addiction I quit cold turkey. And you know the nicotine withdrawal really wasn't that bad, 3 days and it's done. I've never again craved a cigarette. From a pack a day to zero.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 7:14 AM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I quit cold turkey in 1995, but it took me years to stop missing cigarettes. Years. The only thing that kept me from starting again was remembering how much it sucked to stop.
posted by Daily Alice at 7:27 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I grew up with a chain smoker in the house.

Decades later I learned people at school tried not sit next to me because I reeked of smoke.

Thanks Mom!
posted by srboisvert at 7:33 AM on December 26, 2012


I do think the anti-smoking puritanism in the US has gone a bit too far (park bans? really?) and that the health impacts of second-hand smoke, while real, are overblown.

Secondhand smoke health effects are real, period.

What's really at the heart of anti-smoking fervor is the fact that non-smokers should not be exposed to any harm, however slight, due to smokers' smoking.
posted by mistersquid at 8:35 AM on December 26, 2012


Coming up on 7 years quit after 20 smoking - if this helps anyone quit it's worth it:
I quit by consciously removing the veil and taking the info at whyquit.com to heart.

Educate yourself about your addiction.
posted by ElGuapo at 9:14 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


gerryblog wrote: I was typing almost literally the same sentence; there's simply no good reason to allow the sale of addictive poison.

Can we also ban perfume, cologne, and scented laundry products? I have a hard time breathing in the laundry aisle at the grocery store, after all.
posted by wierdo at 9:14 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I'd be surprised how high the puritanical impulse runs among the frequent posters on MF."

As an ex-smoker with asthma and allergies who hates having throngs of smokers hanging outside of my apartment, or smoking in their apartment with their window opening up to a common vent, as my air is theirs... and who can't walk a half mile around my city without dodging the "I don't smoke where it's not permitted" type supposedly responsible smokers who make urban living more difficult -- and dangerous -- for the others around them that they are oblivious to, after coming to our neighborhood to get their party on...

All I can say is that I don't support banning cigarettes at all... because complete bans don't work. Rather, I support treating the "cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other", supposedly-responsible individuals like the petulant, childish chumps that they invariably are.

I support making them *majorly* taxed... well over $10 a pack, and giving landlords all the rights and reasons they need to tell such individuals to take a hike, rather than having them impose increased risks upon the landlords and upon everyone else in the building. Likewise, cities should have the right to define smoking areas in very restrictive ways, well away from apartments, busy pedestrian streets, building entrances, bus stops, etc. Local police should be free to write up $100+ dollar tickets for violating those restrictions.

The "cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other" types should be forced to realize their actual impact upon others and upon neighborhoods, and should realize that there are others around them who *want* to live a long, healthier life for themselves, their families, and their kids.

And for those who want to drive themselves to an early grave by supporting corporate drug peddlers, and creating a toxic environment of secondhand smoke, seedy liquor stores, and alcohol-related asshattery for those who have to live around them, all I can say is that they can take their boring, stupid, limp-d*cked, rather un-punk drug addictions elsewhere.

If you really want the option of killing yourself before the worst aspects of old age kick in, do what I plan on doing... retire to a right-to-die state like Oregon, Washington, or Montana.

...but meanwhile, I have only one life to live and want to live it strong, active, and healthy. I'm proud of having lived a pretty wild, creative life thus far, while giving up the cigs and the daily drinking that affected my health and left me feeling permanently fuzzy. I'm glad I didn't O.D. or drink myself to permanent damage, like some of my old friends. I am happy that I look significantly younger than I actually am because I've started taking better care of myself. I love that I can utterly rock the socks off of my sexy, uber-creative young girlfriend, no little pills required... and I love that we can learn together, share together, and create good art together. I love feeling that I've gotten a second, more informed, more creative, more sexy, more in control shot at life, for (relatively) good behavior, and that the future's exciting and not something to be feared.

So die early, by all means, if your one life is so worthless to you, or if you have nothing left to contribute and are so utterly worthless to those around you who might want you around a bit longer. But keep your toxic, contagious lifestyle well away from me and mine, because we still have some living to do, and plan on living far larger than your ignominious, cowardly, early retreat from life.
posted by markkraft at 9:35 AM on December 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


And those damned fancy soap shops. My eyes burn just walking past them.
posted by stp123 at 9:37 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


infini writes "He's four years old [...] He walks down to the local warung, or cafe, to buy his own cigarettes, sometimes staying for a coffee as well. "

Geez, I wish I lived the sort of place where four year olds are allowed to truck down to the local coffee shop and buy things.

Thistledown writes "For some reason, they never tell you that your man-parts work a lot better when you're smoke/nicotine free. "

It's one of the warnings featured on Canadian cigarette packages.
posted by Mitheral at 9:48 AM on December 26, 2012


And for those who want to drive themselves to an early grave by supporting corporate drug peddlers, and creating a toxic environment of secondhand smoke, seedy liquor stores, and alcohol-related asshattery for those who have to live around them, all I can say is that they can take their boring, stupid, limp-d*cked yt , rather un-punk drug addictions elsewhere.

Yeah, yeah. Like middle aged tossers everywhere -- this shit was fine when you wanted to do it, but now you've outgrown it, you wanna be around the other middle aged tossers just like you.

Now you can try as hard as you like to convince yourself that this attitude is somehow 'punk' -- but it'll always be plain old middle-aged to me.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:50 AM on December 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


so wait isn't weed just as bad, though

it smells as bad!


So eat it.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:51 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Former smoker here. I love nicotine. Love it. Everyone told me that all I really enjoyed was the relief from craving, but it's been years since I smoked and I still don't believe that. I have several friends who are writers or academics and former smokers who say, "I was a better writer when I was smoking." And they can look at the product they created back then and still say that.

It may be that people who feel this way about nicotine have some level of ADD, and that ADD meds would help them as much as nicotine does. Or that if nicotine was not usually delivered by such a filthy method, and if it didn't have so much cultural baggage, it would have been developed as an ADD drug.

The advent of e-cigs is really tempting right now.
posted by BibiRose at 10:07 AM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


" this shit was fine when you wanted to do it, but now you've outgrown it, you wanna be around the other middle aged tossers just like you."

Hardly. I grew up watching my dad smoke himself to death, and I *knew* it was stupid to do... and I did it just the same. And I drank too, because it was how my friends and I medicated ourselves so that we could deal with all the difficult things, including how hard it was to meaningfully interact with others.

I actually find most middle aged tossers to be rather boring, uninspired, stuck in a rut, and so self-absorbed that they give little to nothing back to those who they could actually help, and who could benefit from their experiences in life. Not all, but most. That's part of why a lot of people I hang out with are somewhat younger, gifted... but dealing with their own demons. I strongly believe that people need better options... especially those who live in or are growing up in urban environments.

You seem to think that it's okay to be young, insecure, emotionally troubled, ignorant, and addicted, because that's the way things should be, and that the best way for young people to learn is the school of hard knocks... whereas I would rather show people -- especially young people -- that they can be young, insecure, emotionally troubled... supported, healing, and creative. That they don't need to make the same mistakes that others have done. That they can be nicer, more supportive, and more collaborative with others. They can even design their world to be more that way.
posted by markkraft at 10:17 AM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


When the guy below me drinks (if he drinks), he doesn't get alcohol all over my apartment. Fuck smokers.

I don't think a smoking ban - an outright, these are illegal ban - would ever work. Or at least it would work only as well as all other American attempts at prohibition.

I'm a smoker. I don't smoke inside - bans have taken care of that anyway - and I don't mind it. No problem. I don't want to put anyone out, or bother them with my habit I can't quite let go of.

I go out of my way when I am outside to smoke to not bother others with it, If I see someone coming down a street with children that I happen to be standing on smoking (always as far away from pedestrian traffic as safely possible), I put it out, or move far, far away before we cross paths.

That's why it's disheartening to see comments like "Fuck smokers". on MeFi. Some of us have struggled with smoking for many years and have tried to quit or are planning on it or are currently trying.

But you know, 50 people will favorite a comment that tells about 20 percent of the population to fuck off, so it's cool. Jack ass.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:23 AM on December 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


Bitteroldpunk: I wonder if you'd have that same opinion after having to personally care for someone with emphysema or cancer.

My grandpa is almost 90 years old. He's in a constant decline, and he's dealing with dementia and other physical ailments. It's not easy for him, but his situation doesn't even come close to comparing to the struggle my other grandfather faced.

After smoking for fifty years, he developed cancer in his 60s. First, mouth cancer hit him. He had to have most of his jaw removed. He also had lung cancer and had three major surgeries over the course of four years. Our family worked hard to support him and care for him.

Once his lungs continued to degenerate, he had to go on a feeding tube, which lasted for a year. One day, he died violently. He choked to death when he developed pneumonia, a lung collapsed, and his struggling caused the feeding tube to break and effectively drown him.

He was a lovely man, and if he hadn't smoked, I probably could've spent at least ten more good years getting to know him.

His story is very, very common.

Would you really want to put yourself and those you love through that?
posted by Old Man McKay at 10:46 AM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's not easy to quit. Took me about five years to do. I *needed* to quit smoking, but found that I had to quit drinking for years, in order to accomplish that, because every time I had that drink, I would *need* a cigarette. Fortunately, it's been so long that I can now enjoy an occasional drink -- usually wine or an ale -- without feeling the need to smoke.

But yes, we should tax the bejeezus out of smoking, and be prepared to progressively make smokers feel like greater chumps, faced more directly with the impact of their habits, both to them and to those around them, because that's what has been shown to work. Outright bans will just mean that people will smuggle cigarettes like prohibiition days.

And as an ex-smoker with asthma and occasional allergies, If I walk down the street past you, Ivo, I still tend to have actual, physical problems with your cigarette smoke, even if it is as far away from pedestrian traffic as safely possible. It's just the nature of the beast.

I don't have a good answer for how you can smoke outdoors in an urban environment, and not negatively effect that space for others... and neither do you. And that's a big problem.

All I can say is, keep trying to quit. What helped me significantly was going on long walks, when I felt the craving. Getting out, walking, reconnecting with my body in a basic, healthy way, thinking through my issues... helped.

I also had a way of punishing myself when I broke down and bought a pack, in whatever moment of weakness might hit me. I'd smoke my cig -- oftentimes in two or three sessions, putting it out in between... and then I would take the rest of the full pack and throw it away.

It helps to realize when you're doing an oftentimes reactive, unconscious habit like smoking, just how very wasteful it is. It helps to grow your level of consciousness and of self in order to find the strength needed to beat smoking for good.
posted by markkraft at 10:52 AM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


One of you whiners came up to me asking me if I wanted to sign up for an anti-smoking ordinance.

You didn't care about the actual numbers involved in the oh-my-so-dangerous second-hand smoke, it wasn't a question of science for you ... just a question of getting paid to get signees for your fashionable petition. (What percentage of smokers die of lung cancer? Ever seen that number? Seen all the studies that nail down the actual dangers of second-hand smoke? Oh that's just a canard? Because in reality you just don't like what I do that stinks?)

I asked you if you drove a car to get here. You said yes. I replied that you and your car fetish ruin the joy of walking down a street, threaten my health with known carcinogens every day, every where, and are part of an insane energy policy destroying the health of the entire planet. You'd never thought about that had you, because it hadn't become fashionable yet. Not to mention all the energy you waste in your insanely-lavish home (on average 3 times as much as me), or the thousands of wasted calories you flush every day because of your massive over-consumption, evident from the fact that you're 50 pounds overweight.

OK superheros fighting for truth, justice and the 'Murkin way. You may resume your busybody peccadillos now. But stick this in your free-floating anxiety: my revenge is blowing in the wind. Along with the emissions from that silver turd you call a car.
posted by Twang at 11:00 AM on December 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


Ivoshandor: I agree, "fuck smokers" is too strong, and it isn't constructive.

But smokers really are a major nuisance to a lot of people. As another asthmatic person who works with many smokers at my job, these people regularly make my life a little more difficult. And it's been my bad luck to have a smoker for a downstairs neighbor, in literally every place I've lived.

And like many Americans, I've already lost two family members to smoking. Odds are, it's only a matter of time for two others who are already starting to experience issues.

Tobacco costs us a lot of money as a society. Smoking hurts so many families. And it's so easily preventable, and there is so much evidence showing how bad it is for you. There's really no excuse for it.

I suppose you could say the same for many other vices- alcoholism, use of addictive drugs, overeating, etc., so "fuck smokers" isn't helpful.

But what is fair is pointing out what a burden tobacco puts on all of us, and what an obvious total waste it is. I think that's what "fuck smokers" is expressing, albeit crassly.
posted by Old Man McKay at 11:05 AM on December 26, 2012


My few comments thus far in this thread have tried to make the point that "there are smokers and there are smokers." That is, at one extreme, there are nicotine addicted chainsmokers who destroy their immediate immediate environments (and ultimately themselves) with their smoking, and at the other, there are those who just enjoy an occasional tobacco adventure (ie: a good cigar etc at the right time, right place).

For those who are so resolutely so anti-smoking, do you not see this? Can you not imagine a future for humanity that will involve some quality tobacco experiences? Think of Tolkien's hobbits and their pipeweed.

That said, I don't for a moment miss walking into a bar, restaurant, cafe, airplane, anything-anywhere and finding it full of smoke. Indeed, I applaud what the anti-smoking movement has achieved in this regard, and in terms of their chasing down the cigarette manufacturers, I continue to applaud.

But at some point, it starts to feel like a misapplication of energy. For instance, is it really that important to BAN all smoking from public spaces? Would it perhaps not be more life-saving, quality-of-life improving to focus on other open air threats such as ... well, the internal combustion engine for a start. I mean, do all virulent anti-smoking types also not drive cars?
posted by philip-random at 11:06 AM on December 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Twang, shortened: "Sure I'm addicted to spewing toxins, but so are you... so let's agree to do nothing about it, while I blow my carcinogenic smoke in your face!"
posted by markkraft at 11:06 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


but I don't get cigarettes.

3 (ok 4^H5) effects going on:

1) holy - as in Native Americans.
2) Focus - its why air traffic controllers and the US Military got 'em http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20021023/harnessing-nicotines-power
3) Propaganda - now called Public relations. http://www.themarysue.com/smoking-suffragettes/
4) Habit.
5) The additives of big tobacco added to cigs to enhance the addictive/destructive effects.

What is not "to get" about #2?
posted by rough ashlar at 11:23 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


@sys rq

I don't smoke weed but I don't see why I should be put at risk by people who do
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 11:27 AM on December 26, 2012


I asked you if you drove a car to get here. You said yes. I replied that you and your car fetish ruin the joy of walking down a street, threaten my health with known carcinogens every day

Really?

The $100,000+ I spent on a Tango just avoid an oppressive gasoline tax by the State threatens YOU?
Oh - do tell. Do tell how I'm the instrument of your oppression.

Then, after gathering us all around, regail us with tales about how, if it was only for non-fossil fuel burning transport you'd be free of asmaha or cancer or whatever oppression you are projecting in your comment about "walking down a street" is trying to make.

Would your 'I am more holy then tho' post be better if, instead of a Tang, I used a bicycle and cargo carrier to out-holy you in a 'I'm less toxic than you' battle? (because I can go either way - depends on when I got the pile of cash from the dead. I'm your ethical huckleberry.)
posted by rough ashlar at 11:38 AM on December 26, 2012


To those struggling with the quit, I really really recommend Allen Carr's book. I quit decisively after reading the book (all in one evening). I loaned the book to 6 friends and 4 of them quit, so those are some pretty good stats! You can even smoke while reading it, in fact he encouraged it. I seriously think one of the best things I've ever done was reading that book, and I was super skeptical about it.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 11:45 AM on December 26, 2012


Tastes are changing in the West. It doesn't really have anything to do with anti-smoking laws.

Anti-smoking activists could probably dump all their money into Japanese campaigns and we would still see a strong decline here.
posted by michaelh at 11:57 AM on December 26, 2012


I don't smoke weed but I don't see why I should be put at risk by people who do

Neither do I. There are other ways of consuming it that do not involve smoke, was my point.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:58 AM on December 26, 2012


"It doesn't really have anything to do with anti-smoking laws. "

Smoking Laws Cut Deaths, Hospitalizations Shows Analysis . . . The researchers found that the laws also reduce health care costs and raise quality of life.
posted by markkraft at 12:05 PM on December 26, 2012


PeterMcDermott: Last week, I took part in a research study on COPD that measures my lung capacity. After smoking two packs a day for thirty years, the tests said that I have 98% of the expected lung capacity for somebody of my age.

I sure hope that these results do not in any way give you some sort of comfort/reassurance/relief that you are out of the woods of contracting any of a number of deadly smoking related conditions, including lung cancer. My mother smoked for 40 years and also ate healthy and worked out regularly. When her (hospital owned) gym offered free lung capacity testing for its members, she took advantage of it and tested, like you, at 98%. Boy was she relieved. Six months later when she took advantage of another freebie offered by the gym/hospital, a chest x-ray, a small mass was detected on her lung which turned out to be malignant. She lived 7 more years, only about two of them with any real quality of life.

From lungcancerguidebook.org:

"Normal lungs have a great reserve capacity to meet the body’s need for oxygen across a wide variety of circumstances. The same is true of the heart and circulatory system. This reserve capacity permits cancerous lung tumors to grow for years without compromising lung function. Furthermore, the lungs do not have many nerves to transmit pain messages. Therefore, a cancerous lung tumor can grow for many years without causing any symptoms. Unfortunately, this means that most people are not diagnosed with lung cancer until late in the disease process. Even more unfortunate is the fact that this long period of silent growth gives the cancer time to spread before it is diagnosed. Lung cancer that has spread beyond the original tumor is difficult to cure."
posted by ourroute at 12:06 PM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Well I spent a hundred thousand dollars on an electric car, so yes I do get to lecture you!" is a good bit more holier-than-thou than saying "your vices do not spread less carcinogens than mine do" is. So by all means, you totally win the holier-than-thou arms race, r.a.

Especially when simply driving an electric vehicle by no means eliminates your pollution footprint. Even if you have some means to charge it in the U.S. that doesn't involve consumption of fuels like coal that are actually dirtier than gasoline, I would kind of be surprised if the energy expended in shipping the parts and the vehicle itself around and the mining, plastics, and other production processes required to manufacture it don't generate a substantial fraction of or even more pollution than a single smoker does during their entire life by smoking tobacco products.

In our ridiculously polluting massive-consumption civilization it takes some real hubris to say "your vice is so much worse than all of mine put together that the force of law should be used to prevent you from engaging in it under any circumstances!" I grew up living with a smoker but if I ever get cancer I will be just as suspicious of the benzene fumes I inhale every time I fill up my car's gas tank, or the exhaust from vehicles going by on the street - including the vehicles that carry all of the products I buy all the time, or of the plastic packaging half the food I've eaten in my life was wrapped or stored in, as I will be of second-hand smoke being the cause.
posted by XMLicious at 12:27 PM on December 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


PeterMcDermott: Last week, I took part in a research study on COPD that measures my lung capacity. After smoking two packs a day for thirty years, the tests said that I have 98% of the expected lung capacity for somebody of my age.

Normal lung function follows a distribution from 80% to 120% of the average, much like IQ. You currently measure about 98% but that doesn't tell you what your measurement would have been in the absence of smoking. You could have substantial lung damage and still have a measurement of 98% of average. It's sort of like saying "I used to have an IQ of 120 but heavy drinking has reduced it to 98 which is OK since it is about average."
posted by JackFlash at 12:48 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hate the "why aren't you solving x other problem" fallacy. Some people can work on the fossil fuels, and others can continue cracking down on smoking. That attitude is frankly ridiculous and defeatist. But addicts will say all manner of nonsense to perpetuate their mental illness. I know, being of an addictive personality possibly due to bipolar disorder and a generally childish "it's all about my pleasure unless someone important to me persuades me" disposition.
posted by lordaych at 1:00 PM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


PeterMcDermott: After smoking two packs a day for thirty years, the tests said that I have 98% of the expected lung capacity for somebody of my age.

Allen Carr is philosophical. ‘I estimate I’ve cured 25 million smokers over the years,’ he says. ‘And if my illness is the price for that, it’s worth paying. . . Smoking was virtually killing me 20-odd years ago. If I hadn’t given it up, I’m certain I would have died long ago. I see those extra years as the most marvelous bonus.’

I'm Bill Hicks, and I'm dead now... of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is fundamentally a disease caused by damage to the DNA (mutations). These mutations can be inherited from mom or dad. . . the second way we can damage our DNA is with our behavior. The carcinogens in cigarette smoke can damage our DNA. If the carcinogens damage a key cancer-associated gene in a cell in the pancreas, then that cell may grow into a cancer. Simply put, don’t smoke! (Bill Hicks, NSFW.)
posted by markkraft at 1:03 PM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


One of you whiners came up to me etc.

It's nice to see all the elements together here: accusations of over-sensitivity and hypocrisy to deflect criticism, calling activism "fashionable", dismissing scientific evidence, all couched in a protracted sneer. You could just as easily say "Well, I enjoy smoking - I know it's bad for me, and I try not to do it around folks who don't care for it, but I don't intend to quit", but that would be agreeable and reasonable and wouldn't elevate a simple habit to the level of A Cause Worth Standing Up For. Smoke up, you crazy diamond.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:07 PM on December 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


Pollution isn't the issue. I can stand next to a highway all day - I'm not allergic to exhaust. But I am to cigarettes. I hate that analogy.
posted by agregoli at 1:10 PM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


That, and the basic fact that people would die if our society didn't have modern transportation, whereas cigarette smoking is an entirely unnecessary drug addiction that even the most hardened smoker wouldn't wish upon those they love.

How many long-term smokers do you ever hear saying, "I was beginning to feel the health effects, but made a decision to keep smoking, anyway. It was liberating, improved my health greatly, gave me a second shot at life, and I'm thankful for each and every day I've had to enjoy the progression of my drug habit."

That and the fact that there have been laws passed to reduce both smoking and vehicle emissions, and surprisingly, both are working at the same time.

Thankfully, needlessly polluting drivers don't justify their exhaust problems based on other people's cigarette addictions.
posted by markkraft at 1:20 PM on December 26, 2012


I hate the "why aren't you solving x other problem" fallacy. Some people can work on the fossil fuels, and others can continue cracking down on smoking.

good point. but part of the reason for "raising other problem" is the sanctimonious tone being used by some posing the anti-smoking argument. At some point, it's fair to point out that pretty much everybody has at least one glass wall in their house -- not so they'll never again advocate for positive change, but hopefully so they can do so with a bit more humility.
posted by philip-random at 1:41 PM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


The "cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other" types should be forced to realize their actual impact upon others and upon neighborhoods, and should realize that there are others around them who *want* to live a long, healthier life for themselves, their families, and their kids.

And for those who want to drive themselves to an early grave by supporting corporate drug peddlers, and creating a toxic environment of secondhand smoke, seedy liquor stores, and alcohol-related asshattery for those who have to live around them, all I can say is that they can take their boring, stupid, limp-d*cked , rather un-punk drug addictions elsewhere.

If you really want the option of killing yourself before the worst aspects of old age kick in, do what I plan on doing... retire to a right-to-die state like Oregon, Washington, or Montana.

...but meanwhile, I have only one life to live and want to live it strong, active, and healthy. I'm proud of having lived a pretty wild, creative life thus far, while giving up the cigs and the daily drinking that affected my health and left me feeling permanently fuzzy. I'm glad I didn't O.D. or drink myself to permanent damage, like some of my old friends. I am happy that I look significantly younger than I actually am because I've started taking better care of myself. I love that I can utterly rock the socks off of my sexy, uber-creative young girlfriend, no little pills required... and I love that we can learn together, share together, and create good art together. I love feeling that I've gotten a second, more informed, more creative, more sexy, more in control shot at life, for (relatively) good behavior, and that the future's exciting and not something to be feared.

So die early, by all means, if your one life is so worthless to you, or if you have nothing left to contribute and are so utterly worthless to those around you who might want you around a bit longer. But keep your toxic, contagious lifestyle well away from me and mine, because we still have some living to do, and plan on living far larger than your ignominious, cowardly, early retreat from life.


christ, I've never even smoked but this makes me want to start
posted by Greener Backyards at 1:49 PM on December 26, 2012 [16 favorites]


Just a small data point that I hope is of interest for those of you still reading and are interested in the facts. Australia has had concerted action to reduce smoking rates for a while now, and have had a lot of success. In 1980 fully one third of adults smoked, now it is less than one in five, and they're dropping like flies. Basically all that's left are the stupid kids and the severely addicted. In fact, it has become a bit of a social justice issue, since very high tax rates means a pack is about $18 (USD20; £11.50) and if mostly poor people are smoking and aren't getting the access to the quit help campaigns then that is considered a bit unfair.
posted by wilful at 2:48 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thankfully, needlessly polluting drivers don't justify their exhaust problems based on other people's cigarette addictions.

In this context, needlessly polluting drivers aren't attempting to justify their own vices at all nor deal with the fact that especially with smoking pushed so far out of public spaces as it is today it's completely dwarfed as a source of carcinogens and stench and public health expenses compared to our other collective vices.

It's difficult to believe that the people who are vigorously advocating for the elimination and outlawing of smoking even in private and moralizing about the evils of it will be quite so draconian when it comes to constraining or eliminating their own preferred activities for the good of society.

Indeed, it's rather easy to imagine that most of the people righteously agitating against smoking very very frequently indulge their desires for delicacies or manufactured products or common activities like driving or air travel which also spread carcinogens and stench and aggravate allergies and contribute to public health costs, and produce hundreds or thousands of times the harm that a smoker sitting in his back yard wrapped up in blankets smoking a cigarette or cigar or pipe does, without batting an eyelash. The way these conversations go usually makes it look like the object is to allow some people to feel virtuous and let them look down on others and their habits, rather than to actually solve any of the issues that are brought up as purported reasons to make sure that no one anywhere ever smokes.
posted by XMLicious at 2:58 PM on December 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Indeed, it's rather easy to imagine that most of the people righteously agitating against smoking very very frequently indulge their desires for delicacies

It is easy to imagine, but the problem with the one-up-manship in addressing social problems is that it never ends. There is no end of "things more important", all the way up. The deflections can extend in that direction, or we can also imagine that there are all kinds of people involved in this conversation, including those who haven't selected smoking as their single thing to care about. I'd say it's also easy to imagine that there's quite a number who do care about the underlying premise of smoking bans in public spaces as it pertains to other parts of daily life, e.g., personal pleasure v public good (though not necessarily mutually exclusive, is in a number of occasions, including car use). I like to operate under the assumption that people care about a lot of things, and work on a number of things at once.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:08 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The post reminds me of the Rodney Dangerfield joke:
"I get no respect. I met the Surgeon General. He offered me a cigarette."
posted by eye of newt at 4:36 PM on December 26, 2012


My parents both smoked, as did all their generation. So we kids had to suffer in an air-tight VW bug filled with smoke whenever they drove anywhere.

When my Dad got a heart attack at a young age, he immediately quit and said it was the easiest thing he had ever done (he saw the alternative as death).

My Mom, who came from tobacco country, was convinced that everyone from there was immune because those who would be affected died out in earlier generations. Her pipe smoking Father lived to an old age. She remained convinced of this until she got lung cancer. Smoking was a rebellious activity for her, from childhood against her parents, to adulthood against all the non-smokers giving speeches, so she had quite a difficult time dealing with the fact that she could no longer smoke. But, as with my Dad, coming face-to-face with death tends to overcome even the greatest resistance. Because of the ingrained habit-memory, she carried fake cigarettes that she would 'smoke' (hold in her hand, inhale from, etc. I think they were made out of cotton).

When I started working, everyone was still smoking, which means that I often had to go to hours long meetings in a closed room where everyone was smoking. It was just like being a kid in the VW bug again!

Nowdays, when there are not so many smokers, people may never have experienced it and not realize just how bad it was.

I'm not sure I would ban it all together, but banning it in public places has meant an incredible increase in my standard of living. Thank you thank you thank you!
posted by eye of newt at 4:50 PM on December 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Smoke away if you want, but don't let it cloud your vision.
posted by smoke


Is it too late to nominate this for the Eponysterical Post of the Year Award?
posted by ShutterBun at 6:13 PM on December 26, 2012


I like to operate under the assumption that people care about a lot of things, and work on a number of things at once.

An endless effort to "work on" nonexistent problems just becomes a masquerade and feel-good exercise though, like the War on Drugs "getting tough on crime" by locking people up for minor drug infractions while society pumps tons and tons of firearms into circulation and leaves all sorts of other problems that contribute to crime unattended to.

Say that tobacco smokers—and anyone else with stinky habits, like marijuana smokers—should have the utmost regard for other peoples' dislike of it, that non-smokers who find it particularly objectionable should easily be able to avoid getting anywhere near any place smoking occurs and shouldn't be inconvenienced or have to go out of their way to do so, or that smokers should take care against even bringing a faint scent of smoke, such as on clothing, around others who are genuinely allergic to it, and you'd have my support: those are all real and reasonable concerns.

But when it just becomes about people feeling superior to tobacco smokers, ostentatiously expressing contempt for smoking, and patting themselves and each other on the back for how little they think of anyone who would go near any tobacco product, it no longer looks like it's a matter of working on anything.
posted by XMLicious at 6:28 PM on December 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


eye of newt wrote: Nowdays, when there are not so many smokers, people may never have experienced it and not realize just how bad it was.

I don't think anyone really laments the passing of the days when it was socially acceptable to fill nearly all enclosed spaces with an inescapable fog of smoke, even smokers. How can anyone enjoy a nice meal (for example) while choking on the smoke of forty cigarettes burning at once in a small room?
posted by wierdo at 8:44 PM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


i can think of many, many people (myself included) who are incredibly glad that they quit (i'm a month shy of 13 years without a cigarette).

i also know (and have known) many people who wish they didn't smoke, who spend a lot of money and psychic energy trying to not smoke.

i don't know anyone who is really excited about smoking. i know people who accept it. i enjoyed it at times but would never in a million years for any amount of money go back.

i think that says it all.

-ab
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:44 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like to spit on the shoes of those smokers that expose me to their secondhand smoke. Seriously. It's passive-aggressive, and it sort of makes me an asshole.

re: physiological damage caused by smoking--
While there are some irreversible problems associated with long term tobacco use (COPD, emphysema, etc.), many of the other factors decrease with time--rates of cancer risk and heart disease return to baseline a few years after quitting. The body does repair itself, albeit slowly.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:18 PM on December 26, 2012


I sure hope that these results do not in any way give you some sort of comfort/reassurance/relief that you are out of the woods of contracting any of a number of deadly smoking related conditions, including lung cancer.

They don't at all -- but if I had a health concern at all about smoking, it was the possibility of COPD. I'd started to bring up great big green gobs of sputum multiple times a day. That stopped as soon as I stopped smoking.

I actually find most middle aged tossers to be rather boring, uninspired, stuck in a rut, and so self-absorbed that they give little to nothing back to those who they could actually help, and who could benefit from their experiences in life.

Look, smoke, don't smoke -- do whatever the hell you please, I don't give a flying fuck one way or the other. Just don't try and teach your granny that your self-righteous moral puritanism is in some way, shape or form an authentic 'punk' attitude, and then try and illustrate the fact with a clip of a no-necked 'roid' monster boasting about how he likes to fuck other people's girlfriends when they're drunk.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:56 AM on December 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


This article, and the rest of Grier's output (Google it; there's a lot), is what cigarette advertising looks like in the twenty-first century.

Beware the "opinions" of libertarian/contrarianist gadflies with no visible means of support ("bartender," right) whose views none the less just happen to line up with the commercial imperatives of giant corporations. Someone's paying for this stuff, and I doubt it's just the Atlantic.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:27 AM on December 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


But keep your toxic, contagious lifestyle well away from me and mine, because we still have some living to do, and plan on living far larger than your ignominious, cowardly, early retreat from life.

When you were still smoking and drinking, did you think you were actively choosing to fuck up your life, and everyone else's?

When I smoked-- and I do consider it an addiction, despite what I still think were some positive benefits-- I was doing what I thought made sense with the information I had. I knew it was an addictive cycle but it wasn't clear to me what that meant. In my opinion, if we want to encourage people to stop, saying, "This is just a stupid pointless habit" isn't going to help. You're telling people they are stupid, which backfires in more ways than one. Even Allan Carr, in pointing out that the benefits from smoking and drinking are illusory, acknowledges that tons of people fall prey to these illusions. Nicotine and alcohol are damn powerful, and it can take a lot of thinking, a lot of support, AND the right window of opportunity to stop. Which former users generally seem to acknowledge.
posted by BibiRose at 7:59 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like to spit on the shoes of those smokers that expose me to their secondhand smoke. Seriously. It's passive-aggressive

No, that's just regular aggressive.

Not that I don't understand the impulse, having been stuck with the world's heaviest smokers on the other side of a shared wall for a few years (which affected my health in a variety of immediate ways -- no "theoretical" second-hand smoke effects there), but damn.
posted by asperity at 8:15 AM on December 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


To those that would like to ban me from smoking, because 'my kind' negatively affects your personal space (despite you not knowing me personally, and the chances I blow some in your immediate vicinity being close to zero)...

Do you slso get to legislate who can marry someone they love?
posted by panaceanot at 8:22 AM on December 27, 2012


Do you slso get to legislate who can marry someone they love?

Does marrying someone I love affect the health of others? Does its effects on my health drain resources from the health care system that could be used to help people who didn't bring their illness upon themselves despite giant flashing warnings everywhere?

Or are you an addict grasping for excuses?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:16 AM on December 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does its effects on my health drain resources from the health care system that could be used to help people who didn't bring their illness upon themselves despite giant flashing warnings everywhere?

This is getting to be a bit much. I pay for my health insurance. Should we let people who "bring it upon themselves" just die? Is that your plan?
posted by IvoShandor at 9:25 AM on December 27, 2012


That's quite a comparison, panaceanot. If marriage were likely to cause the premature and unpleasant death of people who married, and if the US wedding industry spent anywhere close $34 million dollars a day convincing people that marriage was cool and made you sexy, and if marriage was marketed specifically to poor people and African-Americans despite the well-known damage it causes, and if there was absolutely no up side to marriage other than that it temporarily relieved the withdrawal symptoms it caused, and if brides and grooms were victims of wedding company executives who care about nothing other than profits and don't give a fuck that their product is killing people.... but, obvious jokes aside, I'm not seeing it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:28 AM on December 27, 2012


I pay for my health insurance.

That really doesn't matter when there's a finite number of doctors with a finite number of business hours. And, frankly, your smoking makes everyone else's insurance more expensive. Thanks.

Should we let people who "bring it upon themselves" just die? Is that your plan?

My plan is to make it harder for them to do that.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:29 AM on December 27, 2012


That really doesn't matter when there's a finite number of doctors with a finite number of business hours.

And when this stops you from visiting your physician, let me know. As it is (under the current fucked up system in the U.S.), if I pay for it, I can use it. Whether I chose to smoke or not really isn't any of your business.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:33 AM on December 27, 2012


And when this stops you from visiting your physician, let me know.

It's currently stopping me from even having a physician to visit, because they all have too many patients as it is.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:39 AM on December 27, 2012


It's currently stopping me from even having a physician to visit, because they all have too many patients as it is.

Then that is an issue. And it may be due to smokers clogging up the doctor's office, but it's also due to other issues. I agree that people should try to stop smoking. I disagree with the militant attitude I've seen being taken here. Not that this is you, specifically - but I've seen one person tell smokers to fuck off and another who said they spit on smokers, perhaps I've just let it get me too riled up, because I really am trying to quit.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:53 AM on December 27, 2012


The $100,000+ I spent on a Tango just avoid an oppressive gasoline tax by the State threatens YOU?
Oh - do tell. Do tell how I'm the instrument of your oppression.


The reason I stopped driving wasn't the microscopic particles of exhaust. It was the macroscopic car sized particles that kill 35-45 thousand Americans and Canadians per year and injures another half a million. Electric cars don't fix that.
posted by srboisvert at 10:28 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq: " It's currently stopping me from even having a physician to visit, because they all have too many patients as it is."

Really (speaking as someone whose day job deals with this sort of issue) it has very little to do with whether individual doctors' practices are too busy, and very much to do with what it does to the overall population. (I originally wrote "pool of people who have health insurance" but in the long run that's irrelevant — we all pay a price, monetary or otherwise, when people die slowly and in pain from avoidable illnesses).

If we as a group can decrease the incidence of tobacco use, we as a group will be healthier, and we as a group will pay less overall for health care. Additionally, we as a group will live longer, in better health, with better quality of life.

Anecdotally, I had a friend who worked as a cocktail waitress and moved from New Mexico to California in her mid-twenties. I asked her about her perceptions of California's ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. Aside from the "OMIGOD I LOVE GOING HOME AT THE END OF THE NIGHT NOT REEKING OF STALE TOBACCO SMOKE", one of the things she said was that in New Mexico she always, always got three to four bad colds per winter. Here in Cali, with our oh-so-oppressive smoking ban, she got maybe one cold a year.

Most people I know who work in the hospitality business, even the ones who smoke themselves, have come to appreciate the no-smoking-in-public-businesses aspect of living in California.
posted by Lexica at 10:56 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


markkraft: "
As an ex-smoker...(long rant)...So die early, by all means, if your one life is so worthless to you, or if you have nothing left to contribute and are so utterly worthless to those around you who might want you around a bit longer. But keep your toxic, contagious lifestyle well away from me and mine, because we still have some living to do, and plan on living far larger than your ignominious, cowardly, early retreat from life.
"

So it's "punk" to be a bitter and sanctimonious middle-aged ex-smoker? I wish to God that I had never started smoking but at least I'm not trying to fool myself into thinking that I'm just as cool at 41 as I was at 21.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:28 PM on December 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sys Rq, while nicotine (like alcohol) is addictive, not everyone who uses it is addicted. Throwing around the label "addict" at anyone whose points you wish to dismiss is slimy.
posted by spaltavian at 3:32 PM on December 27, 2012


Sys Rq, while nicotine (like alcohol) is addictive, not everyone who uses it is addicted.

If you have a physical withdrawal symptom when not taking an agent, you're physically addicted. Addicted doesn't mean 'unable to control use'.
posted by jaduncan at 5:16 PM on December 27, 2012


Sys Rq, while nicotine (like alcohol) is addictive, not everyone who uses it is addicted. Throwing around the label "addict" at anyone whose points you wish to dismiss is slimy.

I don't throw it around at anybody. I throw it around at people who stubbornly refuse to stop using addictive substances. Q.E.D.

If you can think of a more charitable explanation for people being so militantly, irrationally resistant to the idea that smoking should be made harder to do, have at it.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:30 PM on December 27, 2012


I think you might be projecting a bit. The people who are acceding to the scientific claims about how smoking imparts and spreads carcinogens and causes many other serious health problems that can lead to a horrible death, who are acceding to prohibition of smoking in most public places and sanctions against tobacco companies and exceptional taxes on tobacco products, and who are talking about going out of their way to avoid exposing non-smokers to smoke are the ones militantly and irrationally resisting ideas?

Acting like spitting on people is acceptable or trying to portray people who you don't even know as nicotine-addled zealots does not do anyone any good. This is the kind of stuff that indicates to me that we're past the point where the purpose of the eternal struggle against smoking is about accomplishing or improving anything.
posted by XMLicious at 8:20 PM on December 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I held my grandmother Doris's hand and watched her die of lung cancer, the two of us alone, on December 28, 2002. It ate her alive in 6 months, because even after her diagnosis, she couldn't stop smoking.

Until I was 17 years old, I wheezed audibly every day and was banned from running during PE - I'd pass out, you see - and spent my childhood in libraries instead.

Because of cigarettes. My parents smoked constantly; so did my maternal grandparents, and paternal granddad.

My dad quit when my pediatrician told him he was literally killing me, and I'm the shortest person in my family because my mother smoked while she was pregnant with me. I've had lifelong asthma.

The ill effects of smoking cigarettes are far-reaching, life-defining and destroying, and I can never know what my life or my family's would've been like without them. But I understand it's an incredibly strong (and legal) addiction to beat - sort of like giving up sugar, I guess. But it's a horrible way to die, man. Trust.

And I would've liked to run as a child and been a few inches taller, but that I can live with - why risk cancer if you don't have to, though?
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:21 PM on December 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


The people who are acceding to the scientific claims about how smoking imparts and spreads carcinogens and causes many other serious health problems that can lead to a horrible death, who are acceding to prohibition of smoking in most public places and sanctions against tobacco companies and exceptional taxes on tobacco products, and who are talking about going out of their way to avoid exposing non-smokers to smoke are the ones militantly and irrationally resisting ideas?

No. But, then, none of those people you're talking about are the two specific people in this thread (go ahead and count 'em) whose judgment I've suggested might be clouded by addiction.

(You may now resume piling on me for whatever reason you care to invent. I'll be over here rolling my eyes.)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:41 PM on December 27, 2012


Speaking of eye rolling. I borrowed a cigarette from a coworker today and went outside and stood on the corner where I used to smoke, holding the unlit cigarette in my hand as if I were having a smoke break. Sure enough, it was only a few minutes before someone came along on the sidewalk, noticed the cigarette in my hand, shot me a dirty look, executed a fake cough, and assumed a facial expression that said "I just might vomit right here on the sidewalk because of you."

I'm pretty sure she was flirting with me because smoking makes me look cool.
posted by Balonious Assault at 9:12 PM on December 27, 2012


none of those people you're talking about are the two specific people in this thread (go ahead and count 'em)

There are more than two people "who stubbornly refuse to stop using addictive substances" participating in this thread. If you're retracting your Euclidean proof of who can be categorized as an addict that makes sense to me. But by all means continue with the eye-rolling and martyrdom; it seems to be the most important part of this whole exercise.
posted by XMLicious at 9:22 PM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


My wife has asked, repeatedly, for my mother-in-law to cease smoking inside in a public-ish area while we and our 15-month-old son are visiting. She loves her grandson to bits, and knows that smoking is unhealthy for her and for her grandon. She continues to smoke anyway, and continues to do so where our child can be exposed to the smoke.

It's unnerving, unsettling, and seriously demoralizing how overwhelmingly addictive tobacco products are. I was one of those dorks who was peer pressured into inhaling a few cigarettes back in my late teens and even today when I smell a cigarette part of me (a thankfully tiny tiny part) longs to smoke again.
posted by nosh, daven, shtup at 9:33 PM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


chavenet: "I think it was Tom Robbins in Still Life With Woodpecker who had the following exchange:

"Kissing a smoker is like kissing an ashtray."

"Kissing an intolerant person is like kissing an asshole."
"

There's nothing intolerant about not wanting to kiss someone whose mouth tastes like an ashtray.

I read that quote and thought it must have been an exaggeration until I kissed a smoker. Oh my goodness. You guys, smokers' mouths taste awful. Just a heads up. If you see a hottie and they are smoking and you don't smoke but are pining for them, better give them up or take up smoking because otherwise if and when you finally make out it will be a dreadful experience.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:39 PM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


bookman117: "And no, not everyone has to partake when someone smokes. There's the outdoors."

Yeah, the one real downside to forcing smokers outside is now, instead of them being at the far end of the restaurant, going inside every bar, restaurant, theatre or office is like running gauntlet through a bunch of nasty ass cigarette smoke.

My solution: special dive bars that are licensed to allow smokers. If you wanna smoke, you can't do it on the sidewalk. You have to go to the dive bars. Dive bars could sell cigarettes along with mint gum, snacks, and of course booze. Some people love to smoke while drinking and vice versa. For alcoholics, there would be the artsy-fartsy cafe where the booze was replaced with coffee and really horrid poetry. Everyone who loves that can go to the dive bars, leave their butts in ashtrays, the ground, wherever, and meanwhile I can wheel my kid's stroller with the assurance that he is never at face level with someone's dangling cigarette.

And I'm just now remembering this time when I was young and went to hug someone, only to be "stung" by a lit cigarette the person was holding behind their back. Fuck cigarettes man, seriously.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:47 PM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, I have such a different view. Let's say all smokers are addicts. It doesn't matter. This is a group of fellow humans. We should not be penalizing or chastising individuals about smoking. We should continue to adopt good laws and policies that promote health and that deter smoking.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:10 PM on December 27, 2012


Fuck cigarettes man, seriously.
posted by Deathalicious


You could not have a more inappropriate name for that viewpoint.
posted by jaduncan at 12:39 AM on December 28, 2012


ClaudiaCenter: We should not be penalizing or chastising individuals about smoking. We should continue to adopt good laws and policies that promote health and that deter smoking.

That is an incredibly naive view. We already have a number of laws and policies in place to "promote health and ... deter smoking". They barely (or don't) work. People continue to smoke; new victims continue to start smoking to replace those that have died. People who smoke continue to skirt those laws and policies.

Think about the number of airplane incidents you've heard of where a plane had to land because someone was caught smoking in the lav and/or tampering with the smoke detector. Think about the fact that it's been 22 years since smoking was banned on (US) domestic flights less than 6 hours and 12 years since smoking was banned on all flights into or out of US destinations and we STILL need to remind people not to smoke on planes every time.

Think about the number of times you've seen smokers gathered right at the edge of the 'no smoking within X feet of this entrance' area who take a huge drag on their smoke, toss the butt, and hold that drag until they're inside the building.

Think about the number of smokers you know (some in this very thread) who complain about the onerous restrictions that have already been put on their 'right' to smoke.
posted by hanov3r at 8:00 AM on December 28, 2012


hanov3r: I think we agree that law and policy should deter smoking. We already have decent results in decreasing the smoking rate and the impact of smoking on non-smokers. (I have not seem people flouting the laws in San Francisco, FWIW. Rather, I have seen the law strictly followed. Could be this is not the case everywhere.) Additional laws and public policies may bring this rate even lower or may provide more protections to non-smokers. I am a person who is likely to support such additional laws.

I think we may disagree on whether shaming individuals is good public policy or is a good way to further deter smoking. This debate arises (does shame work and is it worth it) in other areas.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:18 AM on December 28, 2012


just smoked a cigar. indoors. a Mehari. only the mice complained and fuck them, they're rodents. drank a strong beer as well. St. Ambroise Vintage 2011 (it was a pretty good year). with Neil Diamond Hot August Night getting played loud from the next room.

a damned fine few minutes.

call it a guilty pleasure if you must, but I was feeling no guilt. or pain.
posted by philip-random at 10:32 PM on December 28, 2012


E-cigs have been one of the best purchases I've ever made. It's definitely something that requires some research first - like many people, I started with a Blu kit and learned quickly that it sucked, moved up to a Volt cig-alike, then eGo, then onto a variable voltage mod. It's fantastic compared to cigarettes. My senses of taste and smell are back, I can breathe, I have energy. I could not successfully quit cigarettes before. A lot of the time people are introduced via crappy gas station or mall kiosk e-cigs, which are TERRIBLE, but when you get a decent device (which is not very expensive) and decent juice it's amazing.

Out of curiosity, as my girlfriend's mom is in a perpetual battle to quit her toxic habit, where do you land if you jump to the end of the chain? It sounds like you're saying eGo with some modifications, but what's the best thing?
posted by kafziel at 11:53 PM on December 28, 2012


It seems like some folks are surprised to learn that some people are assholes and have decided that can't possibly be true, it is smokers that are assholes. Always. Who would ever have thought that rude and inconsiderate people make rude and inconsiderate smokers?
posted by wierdo at 8:27 AM on December 29, 2012


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