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March 23, 2005 5:29 PM   Subscribe

Physicians and scientists around the world even go as far as to state that smoking leads to premature death. Don’t we all know someone who smokes constantly, even heavily, yet is still living — or has lived — to the mature age of eighty, ninety, and older? Furthermore, the MDs and PhDs state that smoking causes cancer and emphysema. If this diagnosis were definitive, wouldn’t these afflictions affect all smokers equally, rather than the small percentage that it actually does affect?
posted by Eekacat (78 comments total)

 
Yeah, yeah, yeah. There are always exceptions that prove the rule. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em! Seriously, smoking sucks.
posted by fixedgear at 5:34 PM on March 23, 2005


I don't know. I quit smoking 3 months ago, actually. I couldn't even run a mile 6 months ago and now I can. I can smell better and I smell better. It's your choice.
posted by Dean Keaton at 5:35 PM on March 23, 2005


"If this diagnosis were definitive, wouldn’t these afflictions affect all smokers equally, rather than the small percentage that it actually does affect?"

Ummm.... no. Because we are all quite genetically different.
posted by chemgirl at 5:36 PM on March 23, 2005


LuckyStrikeFilter? (there's really no info in that link, just trying to sell the book)
posted by amberglow at 5:36 PM on March 23, 2005


can you say "anecdotal?"
posted by Shike at 5:38 PM on March 23, 2005


People who drive are more likely to die in car accidents, but that doesn't mean everyone who drives is in an accident. I think you need a refresher in logic. Or do you assume that all people are biologically the same and that all cigs are the same too?
posted by tiamat at 5:41 PM on March 23, 2005


This is total nonsense... Smoking leads to many kinds of cancer, yellowing of just about everything, and generally smelling like shit. It's proven, not suggested. Just cause the tobacco companies here don't print it on their product like they have to everywhere else in the world doesn't mean it isn't so.

Ah... I see... post is verbatim from page, as if to mock it. Quite a ridiculous page.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:42 PM on March 23, 2005


In answer to your question: take a statistics class. NOTHING in this life is 100%. People get shot in the head and live to tell about it. By the logical jumps you're taking here, you could say that being shot in the head really isn't that bad because there are people who get shot in the head and survive. It's about reducing the probability that you will die early. If that reduction isn't worth it to you, then go get lit. If you want to statistically add days to your life (or more accurately not have them taken away) then avoid the death sticks.
posted by woil at 5:42 PM on March 23, 2005


LOL.

<-- asshat.

My bad. ;-)
posted by woil at 5:43 PM on March 23, 2005


Yeah, and I watched my step father drown in his own fluids (congestive heart failure) over a period of several months before the age of 60. He was reduced to a hollow shell of his former self and was in a state of dementia towards the end. I know what it smells like when death is in the room now.
what is your point?
posted by 2sheets at 5:44 PM on March 23, 2005


Mm... Culture of Life. Better put that cigarette back in the pack unless you want Congress getting involved...
posted by chasing at 5:44 PM on March 23, 2005


Someone forgot the getablog tag. Or even peps... waitaminnit! All that text is from the website itself! D'oh! Then I'm with amberglow. And maybe please use " "...?
posted by sninky-chan at 5:45 PM on March 23, 2005


Quite a ridiculous page:

Take a look at the cooking section, fruity!.
posted by NewBornHippy at 5:46 PM on March 23, 2005


My paternal grandmother drank like a fish and smoked like a chimney. My dad recently told me that when she died at 59 her lungs were compeltely clear. Her liver was gone.

I guess it's luck of the draw.

*sips beer, lights smoke*
posted by jonmc at 5:52 PM on March 23, 2005


Don't be fooled by the anti-smoking campaigns. Aliens don't like to eat people that smoke!
posted by flavor at 5:58 PM on March 23, 2005


Denial can take some strange and amusing forms.
posted by orange swan at 6:05 PM on March 23, 2005


My paternal grandmother drank like a fish and smoked like a chimney. My dad recently told me that when she died at 59 her lungs were completely clear. Her liver was gone.

I guess it's luck of the draw.

*sips beer, lights smoke*


My paternal grandfather lived to be 95. He was an immigrant laborer from Italy. He came to America (see poor, huddled masses) and got a job on the B&O railroad as a laborer when he was a teenager. When I was in junior high school (circa 1976) I used to hop the bus from Philly to Atlantic City to go stay with him. Party on, Ceaser! Me, smokin' the kine at 8 am. Ceaser, having an eye-opener of Christian Brothers Brandy and a Rolling Rock chaser, with a cigarette. So yeah, you might get away with it and you might not. Take a chance? Move to America? You figure it out.
posted by fixedgear at 6:10 PM on March 23, 2005


> *sips beer, lights smoke*

And that liver of yours, boyo. You probably thought it was a gland, or an organ. Well, it's not. It's a muscle. It needs exercise!
posted by jfuller at 6:10 PM on March 23, 2005


About the "smelling like shit" bit -- it's definitely not all caused by tobacco alone. Some people go around always reeking of tobacco, while others (like myself when I smoked) could easily pass for non-smokers.

I quit a few months ago though. I couldn't find my brand, and thought it would be as good an occasion as any to kick the habit, and it worked.
posted by clevershark at 6:12 PM on March 23, 2005


"all those health nuts are gonna feel real stupid, sitting in the rest home, dying of nothing" - Redd Foxx

"No pleasure is worth forgoing for a few extra years in the geriatric ward" -- I forget who

"Cigars take five years off your life. Which five years, 86 to 89? They can have 'em, I'll take the cigars." - Eric Bogosian

Denial can take some strange and amusing forms.


I deny nothing. I'm addicted to various potentially harmful substances. But happily so. I'll take my chances.

My paternal grandfather lived to be 95. He was an immigrant laborer from Italy


My grandma was the child of Irish immigrants raised in Hell's Kitchen. Location dosen't make much difference. My old man smokes a pack and a half of Newport lights a day and his lung x-rays are clear.

Party on!
posted by jonmc at 6:15 PM on March 23, 2005


You gotta admit that when your life is shortened by some illness, you end up losing some years from that part of your life that wouldn't exactly be fit for the highlight reel, if you know what I mean.
posted by clevershark at 6:17 PM on March 23, 2005


Denial and percentages of cancer occurences aside, why would you want to give those lying- ass piece of shit cigarette company execs your money?
posted by puddinghead at 6:23 PM on March 23, 2005


I had a whole long rant posted, but then it occurred to me "this has to be a joke, right?" I mean, you can't even find a link for buying the book on its own web site.
posted by shmegegge at 6:24 PM on March 23, 2005


why would you want to give those lying- ass piece of shit cigarette company execs your money?

because smoking is a pleasure.

Do you drink? Why would you want to give those eveil booze conglomerates your money? Same reason, I'd imagine.
posted by jonmc at 6:25 PM on March 23, 2005


scratch that. I found the paypal link. I can't believe this is serious.
posted by shmegegge at 6:26 PM on March 23, 2005


Do you drink? Why would you want to give those eveil booze conglomerates your money? Same reason, I'd imagine.

I don't know many booze execs who lied in front of Congress, and alcohol only affects those around you when you issue an unsolicited technicolor yawn. Your mileage may vary.
posted by AlexReynolds at 6:36 PM on March 23, 2005


About the "smelling like shit" bit -- it's definitely not all caused by tobacco alone. Some people go around always reeking of tobacco, while others (like myself when I smoked) could easily pass for non-smokers.

This is denial too. Just because nobody told you doesn't mean you didn't smell like it. I quit 3 years ago after 15 years smoking. I was convinced a lot of people had no idea I smoked. I was wrong, as I found out much later when they talked to me about it.

Also, now that my lungs are clear and my olfactory nerves are alive again, I can tell a smoker from a long way off. In fact, if I'm out running, and someone drives by in a car that they have smoked in, I can smell it. People I work with who are secret smokers -- I can smell it.

I too thought I was shaking off the particulate smoke, and I thought a little fresh air, mouthwash, and perfum was covering up completely. But it just wasn't. People who have never smoked, or have been clean a long time, have a far better sense of smell, and they can smell it.
posted by Miko at 6:44 PM on March 23, 2005


You could look it up.

But be careful what you read.
posted by hank at 6:45 PM on March 23, 2005


Anecdotal, perhaps, but while I was working at a cancer treatment center last year, it puzzled me that the majority of new lung cancer patients had never smoked (or lived with smokers) in their lives.
posted by postmodernmillie at 6:46 PM on March 23, 2005


my mother was dead at 55 after smoking for 40 years. i have photos of her w/ me in the womb, cig in hand. lung cancer, developed into a brain tumor, developed into cancer everywhere in her body. she had half a lung removed as well, and that's when she 'decided to quit'. she had dementia at my wedding, never met her granddaughter, and i personally administered her morphine (orally) the night she died, when she could barely string 3 words together. she couldn't even hold the morphine in her mouth at that point.

i suppose that was all 'luck of the draw', though.

of course you'll hear about the edge cases, because they're just that, and of course you'll rarely hear about the real deaths, because they're sad, miserable, and depressing in a way that can't even be described.
posted by crabcakes at 6:49 PM on March 23, 2005


alcohol only affects those around you when you issue an unsolicited technicolor yawn.

or beat your wife when drunk, or spent the rent money on liquor, or commited the something like 70% of violent crimes commited under it's influence, or when they get behind the wheel and run you down, or the odd booze-fueled gang-rape.

I indulge in alcohol at least as much as I indulge in tobacco, so I won't get into the my substance is better than yours argument. and tobacco companies lying to congress is a rotten thing but that's neither here nor there.

We all know that alcohol and cigarrettes can be harmful, but we indulge in them anyway. because we like to.
posted by jonmc at 6:49 PM on March 23, 2005


...or because we're addicted and have rationailized that we like to.
posted by Miko at 6:51 PM on March 23, 2005


i have photos of her w/ me in the womb, cig in hand.

There's a similar photo of my mom pregnant with me, with a smoke in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.(She's since quit the smokes on her third pregnancy.) Both parents issued the usual warnings about both substances, but like any curious kid i investigated for myself, and found that I enjoyed both substances effects.
posted by jonmc at 6:51 PM on March 23, 2005


oh, and one more thing: 'smell of death', yes, been there. 'sound of death', that too, it sounds like a living breathing bong, again, impossible to describe, aside from the term 'death rattle', maybe. trust me, you don't want to go through it at any age, and you don't want to have to be the person helping someone else go through it, either.
posted by crabcakes at 6:51 PM on March 23, 2005


All I knows is, since I quit (late 2001) I don't have to control my breathing for the first hour I'm awake for fear of hurting myself with searing lung pain. No joke.

But on the other hand I am no longer cool. Kind of a wash.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:16 PM on March 23, 2005


Oh, it's risk risk risk that makes the world go round...

Seriously: Risk. Important concept to understand.
posted by deliquescent at 7:20 PM on March 23, 2005


This is what you get when you try to classify behaviours into black & white boxes. A 50 year epidemiological study published last year showed that smokers who quit before 35, on avg., don't lose any life years; by 40, 1 year; by 50, 2 years. A doctor told me that smoking risks become substantial about after 20 pack years. What else, oh yeah, 16% of long-term male smokers and 9% of females will get lung cancer. These are huge risks compared to other discretionary activities, but not certainties. Smoking's not a guaranteed death substance. But trouble is, nicotine's addictive, so most people can't control or leave the habit, and the whole socialistic atmosphere only allows a clear unambigious message, so smoking's BAD. Of course, why would one want to take up an activity that can only put you at higher risk of health problems?

/never been a smoker. Tried it a couple of times. Didn't see the point.
posted by Gyan at 7:23 PM on March 23, 2005


Correction: "not a guaranteed death sentence".
posted by Gyan at 7:25 PM on March 23, 2005


My grandfather worked in a Peabody Coal Company mine in Illinois for 40 years, and smoked Camel unfiltered until his ripe ol' age of 89. Heart attack.. Who woulda thought.

My mother smoked during her pregnancy carying me, and still smokes today. I have smoked since Air Force basic training 20 years ago. At my wife's urging at my last checkup, she asked the doctor to listen to my lungs, The doctor said they sounded fine.

I climb 14K' peaks and get funny looks as I hike past them smoking.

Something, someday, will probably kill me, but denying yourself a vice or three just makes you older and grumpier than needed before your time.
posted by Balisong at 7:28 PM on March 23, 2005


About the "smelling like shit" bit -- it's definitely not all caused by tobacco alone. Some people go around always reeking of tobacco, while others (like myself when I smoked) could easily pass for non-smokers

I'm afraid you are deluding yourself if you think you were passing as a non-smoker.

On preview - Miko got it exactly right.
posted by JeffL at 7:29 PM on March 23, 2005


Also, note that lung cancer is not the only risk of smoking. Other health consequences also suck. Emphysema. Congestive heart failure. Risk of throwing a blood clot (especially for us gals on the pill).

Plus it makes your hair thin, your skin yellowish, and causes you to accumulate fat around your midsection (another risk factor for heart disease). I loved smoking for most of the years I did it, yet it was demonstrably bad; it's not political or socialistic to say so, it's just true.
posted by Miko at 7:32 PM on March 23, 2005


Something, someday, will probably kill me, but denying yourself a vice or three just makes you older and grumpier than needed before your time.

Yup. Words to live by.
posted by amberglow at 7:35 PM on March 23, 2005


Miko: I loved smoking for most of the years I did it, yet it was demonstrably bad; it's not political or socialistic to say so, it's just true.

What I'm getting at, is that it's a probabilistic thing. It's a risk, not a certainty. I'm not denying that smoking is a very risky activity. Just that not everyone gets hosed. About 1 of 2 persistent (till death) smokers will die prematurely (10 years, in fact). That's a massive health risk. But for something that's supposed to be a potent killer, that looks like a mixed statistic. Saying smoking is bad imposes an absolute onto something which isn't. Maybe society needs absolutes to guide their decision-making, but that doesn't reflect reality. That's all. People at large need to appreciate risk analysis & management. Continuing to stereotype things and activities, doesn't help. People will never learn nuance if they aren't exposed to it. And I'm not talking about only smoking, that just happens to be the topic at hand.
posted by Gyan at 7:46 PM on March 23, 2005


because smoking is a pleasure

It's not a pleasure, it's an addiction, and I doubt you could quit if you wanted to. So it's easier to say "I'll take my chances" than facing the fact that you're powerless over your addiction.

Which is fine with me. I have my addictions also (coffee), but I don't pretend it's simply a pleasure.

And for all the "my mom smoked 'till she was 90 and could run 6 miles", give it a rest. You can also refuse to wear your seat belt and survive a head on. Just stupid luck.
posted by justgary at 7:50 PM on March 23, 2005


Last year a friend introduced me to RJR's Eclipse cigarettes and I loved them. You light the carbon heating element at the end, and as you inhale it vaporizes the nicotine, so that what you inhale and exhale is mostly water vapor that looks like, and for the most part feels like, smoke. You get your buzz, you get your oral fixtion, and you really do not smell like smoke at all. The "cigarette" does not ash and there it does not put off any smoke while it's between your fingers. It's really a very excellent concept. Much easier on the lungs, not much more expensive than your standard smokes, and easy on everyone else's lungs as well.

I've since quit them as well, but for anyone looking to cut back or be "healthier" while they smoke, I think Eclipse is the way to go.
posted by brheavy at 8:04 PM on March 23, 2005


Similar to Eclipse, there's NicStic.
posted by Gyan at 8:07 PM on March 23, 2005


I'm an asthmatic (ex-smoker) married to a heavy smoker, and believe me people who smoke smell like it. Heck, I smell like it from being around him, even though he doesn't usually smoke in the same room as me. I teach middle school and the kids can smell it on my clothes and think I must be a smoker.

He's incredibly hardy, despite the gooey yellow schmutz all over the walls and windows of his study, but he thinks he can walk into my study with a cigarette concealed in his hand and I won't notice.
posted by Peach at 8:12 PM on March 23, 2005


It's not a pleasure, it's an addiction, and I doubt you could quit if you wanted to. So it's easier to say "I'll take my chances" than facing the fact that you're powerless over your addiction.

for many people, it is a pleasure. Some people don't 'get' it because the chemicals in cigarettes don't affect them that way. For others, it really hits a spot. This is true of alcohol, pot and coffee, too. There's no need to assume that your experience with a drug is identical to those of people who enjoy it. I have a friend who doesn't understand alcohol; it just makes him feel sort of ill. Likewise, I don't really 'get' pot; it makes me feel confused and out of it, mildly happy, but not in a really pleasurable way. But I bet it feels different to the people who love it.

Yes, there are some people who somehow feel compelled to do something they claim to dislike. This is called inner conflict. Something about it is pleasurable (maybe just familiarity), something else is not. But anyone can quit if they want to. You just have to make the choice, and stick with it.

I find smoking occasionally pleasurable. I haven't had a smoke (or a drink) since the holidays, but I will probably have another at some point in my life (next month? next year? haven't decided yet). Point is, different people have different relationships to unhealthy substances, and there's no need to assume people are helplessly addicted just because that's how you feel about your vices.
posted by mdn at 8:17 PM on March 23, 2005


Okay, look at his supposed credentials. Nicely avoids any mention of education. "Certified Clinic Leader" I googled this and half the 8 hits were him and all were related to smoking. "Health Consultant" I could be one of those tomorrow by calling myself one. Oh, wait, I would be qualified. He's an NC. Nutritional Counsellor? Couldn't find a good match at acronyms.com (non-carcinogen?) Googling a combination of nutritional counsellor and NC together and came up with four hits, one of them was North Carolina. Basically nutritional counsellors must not call themselves that.

This guy is in desperate need of a phony PhD. Does the half naked picture under his recipes suggest James Guckert to anyone else?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:33 PM on March 23, 2005


Inside every internet pseudoexpert is a Guckert yearning to be set free.
posted by troutfishing at 8:50 PM on March 23, 2005


I smoked a LOT for 20 years, always unfiltered and often roll-yer-own. I had to quit, with difficulty, at age 37, because my lungs couldn't take it anymore. Anything as strenuous as climbing a flight of stairs gave me a ten-minute asthma attack, every winter I had bronchitis for at least three months, and every other year or so I'd get pneumonia so bad I'd crack ribs coughing. My lungs always itched even when I felt otherwise healthy.

What's worse is that it cost at least $80 a month, and that was rolling Top from a can. Now I can afford decent bourbon, good coffee, steak when I want it, and a DSL account.

At the very best it's a waste of money. You might as well set your money on fire -- or send it to me.
posted by davy at 8:54 PM on March 23, 2005


Cigarettes are tasty. They really are. And I've given up all my other unhealthy vices.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:54 PM on March 23, 2005


Eliazar Velasquez, a sophomore at Central High School (Providence, RI), snapped pictures of Principal Elaine Almagno apparently smoking a cigarette outside an open school door earlier this month. Smoking within 25 feet of a school building violates state law. Velasquez then posted the pictures on a Web site and distributed fliers at school telling students where to find the photos. On the site, along with the photos, was a message criticizing Almagno... Velasquez was suspended Friday, the day he distributed the fliers. full story
posted by McGuillicuddy at 9:12 PM on March 23, 2005


At my highschool, a teacher had an old silver conversion van with the words "iron lung" painted on the side. Between classes and at lunch a small cadre of evil smoker teachers would file into the bus and light up. It was a great sight to see them emerge from the cloud of smoke.

I wonder if that Eliazar had a problem with the principal, or if he is just really against smoking?
posted by brheavy at 9:30 PM on March 23, 2005


As a non-smoker, the biggest problem I have with smoking is the incessant whining and Nanny attitude of anti-smokers. By far the worst are ex-smokers.
It was said many times so far, but I'll say it again. If people want to take risks you see as "too much", that's their business. You might have a case about second-hand smoke, but studies are conflicted on whether or not second-hand smoke does anything at all (except annoy).
Regarding addiction, it was also said in this thread that not everyone responds to addictive substances the same way. Some people get addicted, some don't.
There's nothing black and white about the issue (except maybe some peoples' lungs).
posted by nightchrome at 9:48 PM on March 23, 2005


The only way to explain what's wrong with this post would be to teach you probability and statistics and I don't have time for that.
posted by Brockstar at 9:56 PM on March 23, 2005


As if I needed a reminder that I want a smoke real bad.
I just quit last weekend.
posted by blendor at 10:00 PM on March 23, 2005


I don't know many booze execs who lied in front of Congress, and alcohol only affects those around you when you issue an unsolicited technicolor yawn. Your mileage may vary.
Yup, because drunk driving doesn't hurt anyone.

It's not a pleasure, it's an addiction, and I doubt you could quit if you wanted to.
As this FPP illustrates, there are always rules to the exception. My dad quit on a whim day after 15 years of smoking and hasn't smoked a cig since.
posted by jmd82 at 11:41 PM on March 23, 2005


Did you know that not everyone who shoots themselves in the head dies?

WOO HOO! Must mean it's safe to shoot yourself in the head!!!!!!!
posted by berek at 12:26 AM on March 24, 2005


"No pleasure is worth forgoing for a few extra years in the geriatric ward" -- I forget who

Is this it?
"There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimer"
posted by djeo at 12:32 AM on March 24, 2005


And remember, it's not JUST a risk... smoke demonstrably damages lung and throat tissue and that aint no shiat. The risk is rolling the die for which kind of cancer and when..
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:43 AM on March 24, 2005


I smoked for years, and as a hospital nurse, took care to never smell like cigs. It worked fine to brush my teeth and wash my hands after having a smoke. When i asked for a break, others would be totally surprised that i was a smoker. I'm absolutely sure i didn't smell of tobacco; it would have been a bust... someone would notice and complain, youbetcherass. I smoked very strong roll-your-owns.

People die of what they die from. Risky behaviour is what humans are about; we do stuff that we KNOW is not good for us.

Nicotine is a marvellous drug. Schizophrenic people report relief from "the voices" for about a half hour after having a cigarette. The drug hits the pleasure centers of the brain and causes a sense of well-being and relaxation. It's also an effective insecticide. We get strung out on it and may die later, bugs die fast because they're little. People who are not yet addicted get the pleasure when they smoke. Addicted ones still get the sense of relaxation and well-being, but perhaps not the pleasure any more. There's a wide spectrum of responses.. almost as many different ways to experience tobacco euphoria as there are people.

i don't smoke any more, and the only difference i notice is the occasional jones, and a happier wallet. I only smoked for 15 years, though.

Don't judge others; don't believe anecdotal "statistics", and .. heh.. don't start smoking. Smoking is bad.. mmmkay?

If you live long enough, and don't die of something else, cancer's going to get you anyway. It's ok with me if you gamble with risky behaviours; job security is always a good thing.

I'd rather smell a smoker than a perfume wearer, myself.
posted by reflecked at 3:19 AM on March 24, 2005


Sigh... We know it's bad for us. We know it might kill us. We don't care, because we like it. If we didn't like it, we'd stop, no matter how addicted we are. Nothing you can say will change that.

It's not the same risk as shooting yourself in the head. Shooting yourself in the head will usually result in death. Please stop making idiotic comparisons like that. Also please stop parading your dead relatives in front of us with their lingering tragic deaths, in an attempt to make us feel guilty for saying that smoking is not INSTADEATHBADCANCERKILL. I'm sorry your mum/dad/whoever died, but I didn't kill them. Actually, I'm not sorry, because I didn't know them, and I have my own problems to worry about. Sorry, but I'm not sorry.

I gave up because I stopped enjoying it. The only thing better than the improvement in my health is not having to be lectured by whining, self-righteous anti-smokers.
posted by ralphyk at 4:11 AM on March 24, 2005


Metafilter: It's not the same as shooting yourself in the head.

OK, that was stupid but I couldn't help it. Anyway, most humans get pretty easily addicted to just about anything. My alcoholic friend quit booze only to get addicted to AA. Seriously!

You say you are not addicted to cigs? Try this: quit for a couple of years and then go back. That's what I did with coffee. I found I was addicted to coffee after all, but a 3 year hiatus cleansed me of it. Now, I may have two cups one day and none the next but most importantly, my day is not marked by coffee cups.
posted by a_day_late at 4:50 AM on March 24, 2005


Anyone else notice that some brands of smokes smells worse than others? I had a roommate who smoked a lot of Gauloises, not the pitch black french kind, but the milder export version, and he could really stink up the flat. Don't get me started on those cloves cigarettes either, ugh.
posted by dabitch at 4:52 AM on March 24, 2005


I'm not a smoker, but a party just isn't a party until I've bummed my party cigarette.
posted by Toecutter at 5:43 AM on March 24, 2005


"No pleasure is worth forgoing for a few extra years in the geriatric ward"

The thing is, you don't forgo those years. They just happen to you earlier than they would have normally. You don't get fewer bad years; you get fewer good years. My dad, an uncle, and a grandfather all died of various addictions, and, believe me, those last years aren't pretty, whether they happen at age 50, 60, or 70.

I should note, though, that I'm not exactly clean livin'. I have my vices, and I enjoy them tremendously. But I don't pretend (usually) that they aren't hurting me.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:47 AM on March 24, 2005


I'm surprised it wasn't mentioned already since Malcolm Gladwell is such an icon to the blogger set, but his first book, The Tipping Point, has a section on smokers. It has a lot of the points that have been mentioned on this thread: people have different reactions to nicotine, different tolerances, and many only smoke casually and just walk away when they stop frequenting bars or make some other life change.

That said, it's always interesting to see the anecdotes that get pulled out anytime smoking is mentioned. I think most of us can come up with a person or two who has no obvious health issues due to smoking. Try doing the opposite and making a list of everyone you know who smokes who had a heart attack at an age under 50, or has had lung or throat cancer, or obesity that could be linked to smoking. Then try to think of how many people you know with the same issues who never smoked. It's certainly food for thought.

I know quite a few people who have the characteristic wrinkles around their mouth, the leathery skin, and the telltale stains on the fingertips of their right hands. The individuals who claim liquor is an equal vice should pay attention to how many people have one drink per day or less: how many people do you know who have one cigarette per day, or only a couple on Friday night?
posted by mikeh at 7:51 AM on March 24, 2005


"Cigars take five years off your life. Which five years, 86 to 89? They can have 'em, I'll take the cigars." - Eric Bogosian

Cigars wreck your ability to add.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:18 AM on March 24, 2005


how many people do you know who have one cigarette per day, or only a couple on Friday night?

This was always my goal, but I could never maintain that sort of control with nicotine.

I have had this theory for awhile, that because my mother smoked while I was in her womb (and only quit the year after I was born), the buzz and satisfaction I get from a smoke takes me back to the beginning of my life and fills some enormous void. It might be a lame attempt at rationalizing my addiction, but I wonder if there has ever been any research into addictions a child was born with, and their propensity to take them up again later on in life. Certainly there has been much talk of the "crack baby", but what of the "nicotine baby"?
posted by brheavy at 8:28 AM on March 24, 2005


I wish MY vice were legal. :/
posted by salad spork at 10:26 AM on March 24, 2005


I work at a health sciences research facility. I've had doctors and other personel act surprised when they see me, for the first time, walking around the block hacking a cig - they claim that they had no idea that I was a smoker since they couldn't smell it on me.

I think that washing hands/face and smoking strictly outdoors reduces lingering smoking odours by a fair bit. Moving while smoking probably helps, too. otoh, I *know* I smell like crap after I've or others had had a few indoors.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:09 AM on March 24, 2005


Until we have socialized medicine, I don't see how decisions regarding smoking matter in the slightest to strangers.
posted by mosch at 2:33 PM on March 24, 2005


It's not a pleasure, it's an addiction, and I doubt you could quit if you wanted to.

It can't be both? Ridiculous. I'm addicted to cigarettes AND I wholeheartedly enjoy them, every single one. I think it's specious to assert that just because something is a physical addiction means that there's nothing about it that's not emotionally satisfying, too.
posted by tristeza at 3:42 PM on March 24, 2005


Statistics are interesting. I'm more likely to get breast cancer from just sitting here in California than lung cancer from smoking, but the lung cancer would be more likely to kill me. I'm also about twice as likely to kill myself than to be murdered by someone else. More (American) death stats:
Killed in car accidents: 42,116*
Killed by the common flu: 20,000*
Killed by murders: 15,517*
Killed in airline crashes (of 477m passenger trips): 120 (1)
Killed by lightning strikes:90*
Killed by Anthrax: 5

(1) Annual average over 19 year period.
*Average annual totals in United States.
Not trying to make a point, as that would be fruitless in any thread about smoking, just looking at the numbers.

Okay, one point: Just because a person is addicted to something doesn't mean they can't also enjoy it. For example, by the time heroin users become addicted they are usually not really enjoying it anymore. Few adult smokers are unaware of the health risks (they're usually printed right on the package); claiming they're all in denial is simplistic and false.
On preview: as tristeza just said.
posted by obloquy at 4:41 PM on March 24, 2005


obligatory John Jonik link:

Stop blaming it on "tobacco" - it's fauxbacco.
posted by soyjoy at 9:31 PM on March 24, 2005


The individuals who claim liquor is an equal vice should pay attention to how many people have one drink per day or less: how many people do you know who have one cigarette per day, or only a couple on Friday night?

There may be something genetic about this because two of my three half/siblings and at least two of my cousins are this sort of 'social smoker.' It's true that the variation seems to go in phases - I have periods where I buy cigarettes and smoke two or three a day, and I have periods where I don't smoke at all, and I have periods where it's somewhere in between & I occasionally bum at social events. Come to think of it, though, I have a fair number of friends with similar habits, including my current roommate.

Also, a lot of drinkers are much more regular drinkers than you might think. I drink about the same as I smoke, which is to say, usually it's just a social treat, but a lot of people have at least their one or two drinks per day (which is more than cigs, but that's because cigs are a three minute pleasure, while a beer is more like a 40 minute pleasure).

I'm certainly not trying to say it's not bad for you, but I think the 'helplessly addicted' thing is overstated, and the difference in actual personal taste underestimated (ie, that people think, 'no one would actually want to do that', because to them it doesn't feel good.)
posted by mdn at 9:54 PM on March 24, 2005


OK, I apologize for not putting quotation marks on the FPP, but anyone who follows the links will see the quoted material, and the absurdities presented are, well, absurd. That coupled with the thread's title really ought to be a clue I think. Anyone who was fooled or disturbed by this I apologize. I don't know where the "LuckyStrikeFilter" thing comes from, but I'll wear it proudly if that's the consensus that it means "a link to a person with questionable qualifications making odd assertions". Again, sorry if anyone was fooled.
posted by Eekacat at 10:40 PM on March 24, 2005


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