To Puff or Not to Puff

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by Stephen Phillips

OK, I admit, I smoke.

I've been smoking since the time when it was still cool to want to grow up to be the Marlboro Man--just my horse, the prairie and a pack of smokes.  Now, that was romantic.

How things have changed!   Today, the Marlboro man is dying of some smoking-related ailment.  Joe Camel is about as popular as another individual whose home is the desert.  Lighting up in public these days is about as acceptable as being Newt Gingrich at a feminists’ fundraiser.

Now, before all of you non-smokers bombard me with advice, reports and facts about the terrible damage that I'm doing to my body  (let alone the amount of money that I'm throwing away), let me point out one thing:    I know already.   So please don't waste your time.

I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about the pitfalls of smoking--all the hazards and dangers, the health risks, smelling like an ashtray, blah, blah.  But the point that I'm trying to make is that, like most things in my life, IT'S MY CHOICE--not yours!

Yes, it’s a habit that a lot of people find disgusting.  And if you don't smoke, being cooped up in a room with smokers can  be nauseating. 

Also, if you know anyone who has suffered as a result of a smoking-related illness, then you have my heartfelt regret.  Even though I have never lost a loved one to smoking, I can fully understand how devastating that could be.  You have my sympathy.

But that does not give you the right to ostracize me, or any other smoker. Treating us like social lepers is not going to influence us.  Nor is making it impossible for us to find anywhere to "enjoy" our habit going to change our ways.   Just leave us to our own devices.  If we want to quit, we will.

Personally, I have tried to quit on several occasions, with varying degrees of success. But I have always been lured back by the demon tobacco.  At this point in my life, I have actually managed to stop smoking cigarettes, and now limit my puffing habit to cigars.  This way, I don't smoke as much, and by cutting back, I'm hoping that it will be easier to finally stop.

So please stop being our moral protectors.  The majority of smokers are old enough to know better, and can make decisions for themselves, without your assistance.   Get the point?

If you are concerned that your kids will pick up this horrible habit, then I would suggest that you talk to them.   Educate them about the health risks;  make them better-informed consumers, adult enough to make intelligent decisions about their own health.  (And then if they choose to smoke, it’s their choice, not yours.)

There is one more thing that needs to be said about the whole smoking debate that I think has been largely overlooked.  I can't quote an exact figure, but there are an awful lot of people whose livelihoods depend on tobacco and tobacco products.  If certain legislators and other public officials continue to move in the direction of ultimately banning smoking altogether, then not only will the unemployment rolls increase, but income from the tax on cigarettes will--how shall I put this?--disappear in a puff of smoke.


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