light(en) up
March 3, 2006 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Does smoking have health benefits? Some argue yes, but is it enough to stop the masses from making this seed bearing plant the root of all evil? If we feel it wise to keep the young from smoking is it OK to outright lie if the end justifies the means?
posted by Tablecrumbs (70 comments total)

 
Steve Milloy, the author of the article in that last link (and the owner of junkscience.org, actually) is a paid advocate for Phillip Morris, ExxonMobil and other corporations. From wikipedia:
In January 2006, Paul D. Thacker reported in The New Republic ($) that Milloy has received thousands of dollars in payments from the Phillip Morris company since the early nineties, and that NGOs controlled by Milloy have received large payments from ExxonMobil. A spokesperson for Fox News stated, "Fox News was unaware of Milloy's connection with Philip Morris. Any affiliation he had should have been disclosed." The payments are seen as another example of "pundit payola."
Just so you know.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:28 AM on March 3, 2006


Interesting. It's conceivable that smoking may confer some narrow physiologic benefit, but the clinical evidence is still overwhelmingly clear that smoking is one of the top public health risks on the planet. On the other hand, smoking makes you look cool, so it's a tough decision.
posted by mert at 10:31 AM on March 3, 2006


I don't know from the clinically proven dangers of second hand smoke, but I do notice that after any situation where I am around cigarette smoke for any length of time (in bars that allow smoking, spending an afternoon with my mom who still refuses to quit) I feel shitty: congested, irritable, stinky.

Whether it is a grave health risk or not, I cannot say, but personal experience / intuition tells me that it just can't be good for you.

I have no doubt that it may have some health benefits, but it seems logical to conclude that its detriments far outweigh them.
posted by psmealey at 10:31 AM on March 3, 2006


So... that cancer my (non-smoking) grandma got after living with my chimney-like grandpa for 50+ years was caused by doing dishes!

Damn you, Palmolive!!!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:31 AM on March 3, 2006


that Milloy has received thousands of dollars in payments from the Phillip Morris company since the early nineties,

a breath of fresh air!
posted by matteo at 10:34 AM on March 3, 2006


So... that cancer my (non-smoking) grandma got after living with my chimney-like grandpa for 50+ years was caused by doing dishes!


Hey, my mom never smoked but did a lot of dishes and went on to get cancer. I think we should investigate this connection.
posted by Jesse H Christ at 10:40 AM on March 3, 2006


Tobacco: the only drug I wish I hadn't tried.

And I'm no clean-liver or moralizer.

Nicotine, say my friends who were addicted to crack or freebase or heroin or all of the above, is the hardest kick of all.
posted by digaman at 10:41 AM on March 3, 2006


On the other hand, smoking makes you look cool, so it's a tough decision.

I don't know. My relationship with flights of stairs has been enriched to a degree I couldn't have imagined when I smoked.

I think when I build a house, I'll have one long staircase just going up, and one even longer coming down, and one more leading nowhere, just for show.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:45 AM on March 3, 2006


that Milloy has received thousands of dollars in payments from the Phillip Morris company since the early nineties,


That really doesn't seem like a lot compared with the millions of dollars that lawyers have gotten from tobacco companies.
posted by Tablecrumbs at 10:47 AM on March 3, 2006


This just in : Death has dramatic lifestyle benefits! Experts suggest that people who cease to live contract fewer illnesses or disease than their more active counterparts! Other benefits include dramatic decline in medical fees, grocery bills, and heating costs! Plus, dead people don't have to deal with tedious living relatives at family gatherings.

The data is conclusive. Death is good for you!
posted by crunchland at 10:50 AM on March 3, 2006


Forces.org? No, seriously. You linked to Forces.org? They're like the Little Green Footballs of tobacco.
posted by brownpau at 10:55 AM on March 3, 2006


My dad died of lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system) 14 years ago and he never smoked. In fact he was a marathon runner. Must be that damned jogging that gave him that cancer.

Sounds pretty stupid, doesn't it?
posted by clevershark at 10:56 AM on March 3, 2006


Intriguing article in Slate about nicotine as an appetite supressant.

I think that the above article has a point. Nicotine is fairly effective as an appetite supressant. It's also fun, makes some social situations less awkward, and at least in smoker-unfriendly NYC, can provide you with an oppotunity to go outside and meet people.

I'm not saying that everyone should start smoking or anything, but just because something has more cons then it has pros doesn't make those pros any less valid.

Disclosure : I am an ex-smoker.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:56 AM on March 3, 2006


That really doesn't seem like a lot compared with the millions of dollars that lawyers have gotten from tobacco companies.

That's not technically true. They get the money from their clients (mostly state governments), who get the money from the tobacco companies. It's a fucked up system, admittedly.

Can someone explain more about the Percutaneous Coronary Intervention research? It seems like a treatment to clear space in narrowed arteries. Couldn't the smoking have contributed to the occlusion in the first place? That link is not very informative. No wonder the press hasn't "jumped all over it."

It spend more time talking about fucking paradoxes, than it does the actual research. Bah. I have a very open mind about smoking tobacco (with no pesticides, of course), but this news doesn't do much for me. I'm one of those who believes most of tobacco's harm comes from the manufacturing.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:58 AM on March 3, 2006


I've had only a few cigarettes in my life because I know better, but damn I wish they didn't cause cancer. (Or make you stink, while we're wishing.) Fun hobby, reduces anxiety, reduces hunger, goes great with beer, etc.

Where are all the healthy vices??

And don't talk to me about exercise and deep breathing.
posted by callmejay at 10:58 AM on March 3, 2006


Pfft, the connection between Milloy's recieving gifts from Phillip Morris, a proudly American company dedicated to providing consumers with the best product possible, and his scientifically-proven, pro-Big Tobacco stance is just as tenuous and circumstancial as the link between smoking and cancer.

See how I did that? Eh? Eh?

Psst, Washington DC- call me.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:58 AM on March 3, 2006


Intriguing article in Slate about nicotine as an appetite supressant.

Coffee is fairly effective as an appetite supressant. It's also fun, makes some social situations less awkward, and is sold in social places where you can meet new people. It is also less likely to attract bums (meaning borrowers of all social classes) who want to "borrow" your coffee.

Now the health effects of coffee are another discussion, but it seems to be much less harmful than tobacco/nicotine so far. Addictiveness might be comparable, however.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:01 AM on March 3, 2006


OK, so let's play make believe here: even if tobacco had no negative side-effects, what exactly are the benefits? The smell? Supporting tobacco farmers? Anyone?
posted by GuyZero at 11:02 AM on March 3, 2006


Where are all the healthy vices??

Sex.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:02 AM on March 3, 2006


I always thought big tobacco were incredibly stupid attempting to maintain the argument that there was 'no proof' or nexus between smoking and cancer. It was a non-negotiable 1-way street to a huge verdict against them.

Years ago I remember seeing a social work study in England that was measuring the incidence of child abuse. One glaring feature inadvertently uncovered was that there was a significantly lower incidence in abuse among smokers compared to non-smokers. Smokers who got pissed off with their kid would go and have their time-out and relax a moment. Non-smokers were taken over their breaking point, to paraphrase.

The 'calmative' argument has always impressed me as being the more sensible way (not that I'm equating smoking with sensibility -- I do smoke but 100% agree that it's a stupid and regrettable habit) to argue for less onerous restrictions and to gain better press. I imagine the situation might be different now if they had changed their tactics early on.
posted by peacay at 11:02 AM on March 3, 2006


what exactly are the benefits

The benefits, as with any drug (caffeine, ibuprofen, weed, lsd) are the altered physical/mental (same thing, really) states. Pretty simple.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:03 AM on March 3, 2006


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 44.5 million US adults were current smokers in 2004 (the most recent year for which numbers are available). This is 20.9% of all adults (23.4% of men, 18.5% of women) – more than 1 out of 5 people.

Each year, about 438,000 people die in the US from tobacco use: that's 0.98% of smokers, and a number higher than the percentage of soldiers serving in Iraq who die every year. Nearly 1 of every 5 deaths is related to smoking. Cigarettes kill more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined.

Based on data collected from 1995 to 1999, the CDC estimated that adult male smokers lost an average of 13.2 years of life and female smokers lost 14.5 years of life because of smoking.
posted by sindark at 11:07 AM on March 3, 2006


that Milloy has received thousands of dollars in payments from the Phillip Morris company since the early nineties,

That really doesn't seem like a lot compared with the millions of dollars that lawyers have gotten from tobacco companies.
posted by Tablecrumbs at 1:47 PM EST on March 3 [!]


Care for a plate of red herring, anyone?
posted by googly at 11:08 AM on March 3, 2006


I'm not aware that there are any reputable scientists that aren't on the pay of the tobacco companies who would argue for a minute that more people should be smoking. These sources are really very questionable.

"...there is a statistically significant and consistent association between lung cancer risk in spouses of smokers and exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke from the spouse who smokes. The excess risk is of the order of 20% for women and 30% for men and remains after controlling for some potential sources of bias and confounding. The excess risk increases with increasing exposure. Furthermore, other published meta-analyses of lung cancer in never-smokers exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke at the workplace have found a statistically significant increase in risk of 12–19%. This evidence is sufficient to conclude that involuntary smoking is a cause of lung cancer in never-smokers."
posted by MythMaker at 11:08 AM on March 3, 2006


"Never trust a junkie."
posted by acetonic at 11:10 AM on March 3, 2006


What? Reality isn't ALL black and WHITE?
Why do you hate civilization so much?

I always found smoking to help with digestion and bowel movements.

Not enough for the trade-off however.
posted by HTuttle at 11:10 AM on March 3, 2006


The 'calmative' argument has always impressed me as being the more sensible way

Remember the scene in Apollo 13 when they are working all through the night to get the astronauts back safely? There are ashtrays overflowing on all the tables. Everyone is chain smoking.

Now all NASA buildings prohibit smoking. If I were an astronaut, that would make me a little nervous.
posted by Tablecrumbs at 11:11 AM on March 3, 2006


On the other hand, smoking makes you look cool, so it's a tough decision.

This recent study is relevant here: Secondhand smoke linked to secondhand coolness
posted by jockc at 11:14 AM on March 3, 2006


So... that cancer my (non-smoking) grandma got after living with my chimney-like grandpa for 50+ years was caused by doing dishes!

Well, you know a shitload of people do get lung cancer without any exposure to tobacco. Sometimes, you just get lung cancer.

I think the current feeling on the issue is that if someone who is a non-smoker gets lung cancer, people have a tendency to assume it *must* have been second hand smoke that caused it. Forgetting the fact that far more cases of non-smokers getting lung cancer can be attributed to causes unrelated to tobacco then the comparatively small number that have been conclusively shown to be caused by second hand smoke.

This sort of casualness with cause even extends to the medical community, I remember a good friend from high school's father died of lung cancer, since her mother was a smoker, even the doctors working with him just assumed "oh, it must have been caused by second hand smoke" without even looking into it. To the docs obviously if person A is a non-smoker living with person B who is a smoker, it's safe to assume second hand smoke is to blame.

Well it turns out a few years later a few more guys at the factory that dude worked with came down with lung cancer, it turns out the factory wasn't following xxxx or yyyy saftey precautions and the long term workers had been inhaling bad shit they shouldn't have been.

Well, this turned into a big fight for my friend's family trying to get restitution, because the doctor just casually assumed second hand smoke was to blame without looking into it, so the factory's insurance tried to use that against them. Saying hey, look what this dude wrote down, he's a doctor! Luckily there was still enough data from the testing they did on him to eventually force the factory to settle without having to dig up the poor guy.

So even if your grandma wasn't working in a factory and wasn't a smoker, some people just get lung cancer. Just like some people just get other types of cancer without being exposed to dangeous chamicals. And to just assume second hand smoke must be to blame becuase she lived with a smoker is less of a jump then assuming chemicals in her dish detergent caused it, it's still more of a jump then you can just take on faith.
posted by Jezztek at 11:15 AM on March 3, 2006


That being said, this guy is crazy, the smoking benefits health benefits are just tiny compared to the health detriments. I mean there is a mountain of evidence to show this. As a population's percentage of smokers fall, their average level of health rises
posted by Jezztek at 11:17 AM on March 3, 2006


Nicotine, say my friends who were addicted to crack or freebase or heroin or all of the above, is the hardest kick of all.

In a blind taste-test of various drugs given intravenously to ex-drug users nicotine was consistently identified as cocaine.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:22 AM on March 3, 2006


StickyCarpet writes "consistently identified as cocaine"
That's possibly because, unbeknownst to many people, nicotine is actually an upper and not a downer. The relaxation comes from raising the blood/brain levels of the drug to a point where the effect (to which one is addicted) is felt rather than by any directly anxiolytic properties. But it actually makes you more awake, more alert.
posted by peacay at 11:32 AM on March 3, 2006


Smoking is the greatest habit, and I thoroughly enjoyed my never-to-be-forgotten years as a smoker. It is a fabulous drug. It concentrates the mind. It isolates the consciousness. It makes you feel like a precious individual in the midst of this big empty universe. There's nothing like that first cigarette of the morning, and nothing like the last one at night. There's nothing like sitting across from a beautiful woman in a cheap restaurant, talking on into the night as the glasses accumulate and the ashtray fills between you.
Of course, it also degrades virtually every system of the body, without question, as anyone in the health care field will attest. The cardiovascular effect alone is bad enough, even without the increased cancer risk.
It's also very easy to quit. The big cry-babies who say tobacco is more difficult to kick than heroin are offering an insult to every junkie on the planet.
It's easy to quit cigarettes. You just quit.
posted by Faze at 11:50 AM on March 3, 2006


Lies lies lies and more propaganda. How exciting.

I wonder why anyone bothers believing anything anymore.

That said, obviously nicotine is going to have some positive health effects, but smoking will never be "good for you". Anyone who belives it it will is a moron, IMO.
posted by delmoi at 11:51 AM on March 3, 2006


Smoking is the greatest habit, and I thoroughly enjoyed my never-to-be-forgotten years as a smoker. It is a fabulous drug. It concentrates the mind. It isolates the consciousness. It makes you feel like a precious individual in the midst of this big empty universe.


Whatever. Most people have told me that it doesn't even get them noticeably high.
posted by delmoi at 11:52 AM on March 3, 2006


It's easy to quit cigarettes. You just quit.

Oh please, you're so full of shit. I knew a girl who kept smoking after her dad (also a smoker) died of lung cancer just six months prior to talking to me about it. Then she burst into tears. Heroin is easy for some people to quit as well. In fact, because it's hard to get, it probably easier.
posted by delmoi at 11:54 AM on March 3, 2006


Remember the scene in Apollo 13 when they are working all through the night to get the astronauts back safely? There are ashtrays overflowing on all the tables. Everyone is chain smoking.

Now all NASA buildings prohibit smoking. If I were an astronaut, that would make me a little nervous.


That's not something you'll ever have to worry about, wheezy.
posted by delmoi at 12:00 PM on March 3, 2006


My mom quit smoking overnight. That was just before they took out one of her lungs, and about 6 months before the tumor in her brain killed her. My dad quit easily, too, since they didn't let him smoke in the Intensive Care Unit. The pneumonia that put him in there was exacerbated by the advanced emphysema, but he never made it home after 6 months of ICU delerium and slow suffocation.

But yeah. Filling up an ashtray with some lady in a restaurant sounds really cool.
posted by crunchland at 12:00 PM on March 3, 2006


Smoking is the greatest habit, and I thoroughly enjoyed my never-to-be-forgotten years as a smoker. It is a fabulous drug. It concentrates the mind. It isolates the consciousness. It makes you feel like a precious individual in the midst of this big empty universe.

I think I actually understand where you're coming from on this one. There is something to be said for having a smoking habit. It splits up your day, giving you a break where you can reflect and recharge. On top of that the drug itself relaxes you. And unlike other drugs, it wears off fast enough not to impair you. But I think getting a little buzz every once in a while provides a bit of perspective that non-smokers can't appreciate.
posted by jimmy76 at 12:09 PM on March 3, 2006


crunchland -- When the mainstream media spreads the word that quitting smoking is the hardest thing in the world, harder than kicking heroin, it discourages people from even TRYING to quit. The psychological component of smoking is the big hurdle. Smokers should not be coddled, and made to feel like quitting will be the most difficult thing they ever have to do. It's not really that difficult.
posted by Faze at 12:09 PM on March 3, 2006


Whatever. Most people have told me that it doesn't even get them noticeably high.

You are missing the point of smoking, it has nothing to do with getting high.
posted by 517 at 12:11 PM on March 3, 2006


On the other hand, smoking makes you look cool, so it's a tough decision.

I got a chuckle out of that when I read it. I smoked for 12 years, but have been nic-free for the past three. It certainly seemed like a selling point when I started in earnest with my boho wannabe friends in college.

These days, though, is it still true. When I see people smoking now, it looks vaguely clumsy and kind of desperate... but I'm sure age has changed my brain chemistry and my concept of what's cool.

I still think that tattooed chicks with dyed jet black hair look cool, so that much hasn't changed. But the smoking part? Not so much anymore.
posted by psmealey at 12:12 PM on March 3, 2006


I suppose I should balance my comments by noting that I am in the health care field, and that I see the hideous consequences of smoking every day in both the living and the deceased here -- and that no one should take it up on the basis of my having told them that it's easy to quit. I mean, seeing patients suffocating to death is not pretty. I just want to establish:
1.) Smokers smoke for a reason. It is a wonderfully pleasurable habit. They are not simply stupid and self-destructive people.
2.) It would be a shame if anyone continued to smoke based on the belief that quitting is somehow enormously difficult.
Just quit.
posted by Faze at 12:15 PM on March 3, 2006


My doctor told me there are 2 kinds of cigarette addiction.
The nicotine is not the problem for most people. The action of smoking is the hard part. It is the holding, lighting, tapping the ashes (etc). It becomes a part of you. This is why if you have smoked a number of years it is very hard to quit. The Nicotine is out of your system in 72 hours.
posted by Tablecrumbs at 12:21 PM on March 3, 2006


Tablecrumbs that's definitely true, I would add that the memory of the jolt of nicotine that makes you feel instantly relaxed is very powerful. It's particularly strong in moments of stress or emotional distress. Three years later, the cravings are still there even though I hate being around the things now.

But yeah, the rituals and physical actions of smoking are also mentally and emotionally quite addictive. This gives rise to one of the only memorable and funny lines from the long-running and abysmal teevee show Friends:

Chandler: "Don't think of it as a cigarette; think of it as the thing that's been missing from your hand."

But the physical
posted by psmealey at 12:27 PM on March 3, 2006


sorry for the trailing phrase, I should have previewed.
posted by psmealey at 12:28 PM on March 3, 2006


Of all the drugs I can think of, smoking is the one that has the highest, most consistent reinforcement schedule; that is, even if you're a cokehead, you can only do it for X amount of time before you need to either take a break or your heart pops, or you run around screaming about the DEA planting speakers in your brain.

This is applicable in both the long-term, where you have people smoking for twenty-plus years, and in the daily reinforcement- when you use a drug twenty times a day [that's one pack a day- probably average consumption for a regular smoker] it's just insidious. Alcohol is the only other widely-available drug I can think of that allows you to use it in the same sort of manner.

But as Faze noted, it is awfully pleasurable. [and this is coming from someone who did more than my share of pleasurable things.]
posted by exlotuseater at 12:44 PM on March 3, 2006


It's much easier to quit smoking once your desire to not be a smoker anymore is greater than your attachment to being a smoker. And that really has nothing to do with the nicotine. It's easy to reduce smoking to just a chemical thing, it's more than that, as anyone who has ever been a smoker can attest. The nicotine is just something eventually you get over. It's actually other part that's harder. What to do with your hands for example--so not fall back on nervous tics and gestures? How to justify leaving a dull conversation or break from a bewildering stretch of work to go get "fresh air" on a cold night? Not having an excuse to initiate conversation by asking for a light? Some of the best conversations of my life were accompanied by cigarettes. And I'm not going lie: since quitting, it's harder for me to manufacture the intimacy of those moments without having the excuse of going somewhere I could smoke.

I started smoking in high school, so I'm willing to accept that my understanding of adult social interaction was built upon being a smoker. And it's hard to remember how you communicated and how you behaved before you started smoking.

I don't mean to give this too much gravity. Smoking is just a bad habit, like biting nails dipped in carcinogens. And I've known enough junkies in my life to know that the awkwardness I felt at quitting smoking is nothing like what they've been through and continue to go through.

I don't know. I'm neither sorry I was a smoker (yet) nor sorry I quit. It wasn't as hard as I thought, once I wanted it bad enough.
posted by thivaia at 12:50 PM on March 3, 2006


I quit yesterday. I fricken' DID! STFU!
posted by Sparx at 1:03 PM on March 3, 2006


Never been a smoker and have never considered it an attractive quality. Thank goodness the the smoker is a dying breed.
posted by Atreides at 1:49 PM on March 3, 2006


It's also very easy to quit. The big cry-babies who say tobacco is more difficult to kick than heroin are offering an insult to every junkie on the planet.
It's easy to quit cigarettes. You just quit.


It took me several tries over several months to quit, and I didn't even smoke that much -- here's how I did it:

1. Take a nice menthol cigarette (as was my bent back in the day);

2. Let your mouth fill with saliva, and don't spit.

3. Take some shallow puffs, the kind that fill your mouth instead of your lungs.

4. Swallow the spit.

A friend suggested this to me, and it was one of the most disgusting things I've ever experienced. That wasn't what made me quit, though.

What made me quit was perverse -- from that moment on, every time I tried to smoke, I was painfully aware of the saliva in my mouth, and couldn't stop salivating when I tried to smoke. That left me with two alternatives; since I didn't want to swallow again, and since public spitting is a nuisance, I often postponed my cigarette until I was somewhere I could spit comfortably.

This happened so much that my smoking went down considerably, immediately, and stopping at that point was quite easy.

note: I did my best to avoid writing the above in a way that suggested a certain sexual reference, but I know you read it in there anyway, so just giggle your little giggle and move on.
posted by davejay at 2:25 PM on March 3, 2006


Most people have told me that it doesn't even get them noticeably high.

Well, maybe not high in the way weed does, but it does alter your thinking. And if you're not a habitual smoker, and smoke several, you WILL get high (lightheaded and buzzed, kind of like a small amount of alcohol will do). It's just that once you're a regular smoker, you don't notice the difference as much, since you smoke periodically throughout the day.

Cigarette smoking is one of the most pleasurable physical activities I can think of (second only to sex, I guess).

That being said, I quit because I don't like death. But if there was a death-free cigarette (or at least one with more moderate health effects, like caffeine), I'd be on that like glue.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:27 PM on March 3, 2006


It's taken me 9 years (with a 1 year quit in the middle there somewhere) to be quit and the biggest problem I have is that nicotine somehow helps regulate my depression. If I don't smoke, then I've got to excercise at least an hour longer each day (or pop medication - no thanks) in order not to feel suicidal.

I wonder if I hadn't taken up smoking whether it would be the same.

Smoking sucks. Sure there are reasons for people to smoke but they never outweigh the health risks.
posted by b33j at 2:46 PM on March 3, 2006


A few years ago, I was contacted by a distant, "long-lost" friend for a high-school graduation anniversary bash. I was very pleased to hear from him, especially since I had been very fond of his parents, interesting and likeable people who had frequently had a crowd of teenagers around during our high-school years, having fun and laughing up a storm.

I'll never forget the sadness that I felt when I arrived in my old city and brightly asked him about his parents. Both dead. Cancer. Mid-fifties. Both had smoked tobacco, pretty much all their lives.

Neither my friend nor I smoke tobacco today.
posted by telstar at 4:48 PM on March 3, 2006


what exactly are the benefits? The smell? Supporting tobacco farmers? Anyone?
posted by GuyZero at 11:02 AM PST on March 3


To quote Reason managing editor Jacob Sullum
"Because smokers tend to die earlier than nonsmokers, the short-term costs of treating tobacco-related illness are balanced, and probably outweighed, by savings on Social Security, nursing home stays, and medical care in old age. Every analysis that takes such long-term savings into account, including reports from the RAND Corporation, the Congressional Research Service, and Harvard economist W. Kip Viscusi, concludes that "social cost" cannot justify raising cigarette taxes."
posted by Megafly at 5:01 PM on March 3, 2006


In short, Tobacco, can save Social Security and Medicaid, but only if we all start smoking NOW
posted by Megafly at 5:02 PM on March 3, 2006


You know what's helped me to quit and stay quit? Going out for non-cigarette breaks at work. Sometimes I'll go out with my friends who are smokers. Other times, I'll just go out there by myself and sit on the roof or the fire escape.

I feel like I'm still getting the best part of the cigarette break.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:18 PM on March 3, 2006


"Cigarettes kill more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined"

Good, let's try to get more people to smoke. People suck.

Present company excluded, of course
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:00 PM on March 3, 2006


Nicotine may actually protect against some diseases. Not enough protection to outweigh the risk of cancer, of course, but it looks like the study of nicotine may lead to new therapies in the future.
posted by gimonca at 7:11 PM on March 3, 2006


A good resolution to this AskMe about smoking dangers has still not materialized. Anyone?
posted by Gyan at 7:47 PM on March 3, 2006


It makes me laugh when you non-smokers make assumptions about the act of smoking, why an individual smokes, etc.

Smoking is nothing like harder drugs--cocaine and heroin were brought up as examples--and quitting smoking and quitting either of those things are not at all on the same playing field. To make that claim IS an insult to cokeheads and junkies, as another poster mentioned above.

We don't smoke to get high. We smoke to relax, to reflect. Mock the post as much as you want, but Faze's comment hits it all dead on.

Also, smokers are not a dying breed, at least not in the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon. I'm sure in certain areas they are, but as a rule the horrors of smoking don't deter many people--hell, they didn't deter me.
posted by nonmerci at 11:02 PM on March 3, 2006


nonmerci writes "Smoking is nothing like harder drugs--cocaine and heroin were brought up as examples--and quitting smoking and quitting either of those things are not at all on the same playing field. To make that claim IS an insult to cokeheads and junkies, as another poster mentioned above."

Actually, I have had addiction problems in my life, including to alcohol and nicotine, and I have used just about everything and known plenty of junkies and cokeheads, but alcohol was my drug of choice and I could not imagine trying to quit smoking. If I had not quit drinking it would have killed me. I quit drinking first, which was comparitively easy, and quit smoking three years later - quitting smoking cigarettes was the hardest thing I've ever done in terms of sheer will control. I have not cheated, but it was very, very hard at first. I am done with both but let me tell you, nicotine is more of an addiction than you realize. If you're a long-time habitual smoker, it consumes your every thought in a way you don't even see until you try to put it down. All your stress is put into that habit and has been for years, and just wait until it's not there anymore. Why do you think smokers who are quitting get pissed off? And not only stress, but all the other difficult emotional issues trigger an addictive response. What are you going to do when you have to confront those issues head on instead of retreating into a cigarette? And eating and sex are connected to it. And when you can catch a few minutes to get your fix. And how many you have left in the pack, and how long is it until this meeting is over so you can go smoke? And how much money do you have till the end of the week and will it be enough for cigarettes? And starting and ending your day with it. And packing the pack with the heel of your hand, and all the little rituals you had. And realizing your health is suffering and it's too expensive and it makes you stink and most of the time you really don't enjoy it anymore, but not caring enough about your own health and well being to quit.

It's not just a habit. It affects everything you do. It destroys you, very slowly, but even if you are lucky enough to live a long time it will leave its marks all over you. You will be physically scarred by it in more than one way. It's very easy to spot a smoker once you've quit. They look much less healthy, no kidding.

Don't get me wrong. I think businesses should be able to allow smoking as they see fit, and people can live their lives the way they want to. I absolutely loved cigarettes when I smoked, and I will always miss them. But, even though I smoked for almost 20 years, at least one pack a day, when I quit that was it for good - I will never pick it up again because I absolutely hate the way it affected me and how much the addiction to it consumed me. It feels so much better being free of that addiction, and I've been through my own share. Now that some time has passed, I wouldn't trade the difference for anything.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:12 AM on March 4, 2006


Back to the original question of tobacco health benefits and tainted research...

In the late 1970s I had a job as a lab assistant - actually as an rat-wrangler - for an experiment that made rats and pigeons smoke cigarettes and/or pot. The lab site was a large downtown boston warehouse, and a lot of money had been sunk into it as parrt of a project that was being funded by the Tobacco Industry, Harvard U., and a major Boston hospital to "prove" a theory that smoking tobacco made your immune system stronger by building up something called "microphages." And of course, to prove that smoking pot was bad for you... Even the director of the lab admitted that the research was fixed by the Tobacco Industry and that the "microphage theory" was bad science in search of funding.

The results, based on weighing lab animals, cardiographs, and mortality rates showed, however, that smoking pot was far less dangerous than tobacco, and that rats which smoked pot even compared favorably to the "shams" and "control" groups. It was obvious that pot helped lab animals cope with the stress of being a lab animal.

A few years later I was watching TV and there was some Tobacco industry lobbyist in Washington using the results from that particular round of exp[eriemnts to denounce pot as a "health hazard."
posted by zaelic at 2:58 AM on March 4, 2006


I just want to thank you all for this excellent thread.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:39 AM on March 4, 2006


Smoking is the greatest habit, and I thoroughly enjoyed my never-to-be-forgotten years as a smoker. It is a fabulous drug. It concentrates the mind. It isolates the consciousness. It makes you feel like a precious individual in the midst of this big empty universe. There's nothing like that first cigarette of the morning, and nothing like the last one at night. There's nothing like sitting across from a beautiful woman in a cheap restaurant, talking on into the night as the glasses accumulate and the ashtray fills between you.

Beautifully put Faze. You lose something when you stop smoking. It feels like another step towards death. But stop you must.
posted by bobbyelliott at 12:40 PM on March 4, 2006


There's nothing like sitting across from a beautiful woman in a cheap restaurant

It's better to sit across from a cheap woman in a beautiful restaurant.
posted by bobbyelliott at 12:43 PM on March 4, 2006


Does smoking have health benefits?

Gee, you can tell you've really thought about this. Well done.
posted by sjvilla79 at 4:19 AM on March 7, 2006


Yeah, I know, sjvilla79, it's as they're all whacked out on mushrooms of some sort.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:01 AM on March 7, 2006


Careful, goodnewsfortheinsane, you should only speak of great threads when it's entirely appropriate. Thus, I'm not sure that this one requires such a comparison. Please, feel my sarcasm.
posted by sjvilla79 at 7:45 PM on March 7, 2006


Duly noted.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:30 AM on March 8, 2006


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