Social Stigma Giving Cigarettes Cancer


Smoking’s not bad. It’s not. Smoking is pleasurable, relaxing, calming, but bad? No. And I don’t mean not-bad in a health sense. I would be daft in trying to sell anyone on that point.

Socially it’s not bad. Cigarettes hurt no one but the smoker – and, I suppose, the insurance industry’s bottom line. Smelly, yes. Annoying, sure. But are they worthy of a national stigmatizing campaign that blows more smoke than we inhale? Not really.

This is the truth I swallow.

It’s just a vice, and just like any other vice, it costs both your health and money. But unlike many, it doesn’t come packaged with damaging societal effects. (The verdict’s in on second hand smoke).

Look at it this way. Cigarettes don’t tear families apart. They don’t affect your performance at work. They don’t prohibit your driving talents. They certainly don’t cause obesity. And you’d be hard pressed to find some poor sap 75 large in the hole from his cigarette habit. He may be bumming for smokes, but it surely wasn’t that first cigarette kick-starting his toilet-bowl life.

No, it’s alcohol. It’s drugs. It’s gambling, overeating, over-working and a plethora of other vice that cause such downfall. These are the life-ruining habits. Not the guy tucked off to the side, smoking solo in the designated area. It may grind you, but he’d certainly rather nicotine down his throat than another guilt trip.

Having the occasional cigarette shouldn’t inspire guilt. It’s not going to ruin your life. It may end mine but I know I’m not going to live forever so what’s there to be guilty about? I love to smoke and I’m not shy about it.

Cigarettes have never swayed me in the wrong direction. They’ve never perverted my decision making abilities. I’ve never binged on cigarettes one night only to wake up beside Saddlebag Sally, stricken with guilty thoughts of, “Why did I buy that pack of cigarettes? I’m never smoking again!”

This doesn’t happen.

Yes, quitting saves money. That’s true. So does selling your car, living at your parents and not paying your cell phone bill. Everything costs money. Hell, a decent drink in this town costs more than a pack of cigarettes – and lasts in your possession about 36.5 hours less. It’s all about picking your pleasure.

I know what you’re thinking. “Smoking is the leading cause of death.” Fat chance. Life is the leading cause of the death. Smoking just erases the mystery of how.

If smoking is the leading cause of anything, it’s heartburn for the insurance companies funding your ascent back to the cosmos.

According to the Center for Disease Control in Prevention, health care costs, private and public, related to smoking in 2010 were $193 Billion. With sticker shock like this, of course the private and public sectors are going to pay to sway you away from smoking. But why feel bad for them? Your taxes and premiums are paying for just that: them to foot your death bill.

They don’t care if you live or die; they just don’t want to pay for either. If insurance rackets wanted Americans to live they wouldn’t be cutting off coverage for typos. Pull together some creative marketing and junk science, et voila: more money in their pockets.

What are you preparing for by not smoking? Not dying? I can’t stress enough that everybody dies. Everybody. You’re living a healthy life now so when you’re old and decrepit, taking 15 pills a day, you can squeeze out a couple more ‘golden years’?

These aren’t golden years. These are graveyard years. Golden years are 16 to 35 when you’re at your peek of physical fitness. These are the abuse years.

The occasional cigarette isn’t unhealthy. Resident champion of the smoking arts, Fran Lebowitz, says it best, “No one in New York gets more fresh air than a smoker.” Add that on top of all the extra walking needed just to pull on that sweet amber ember; an occasional pull doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?

So go ahead. Light up.