Monday, October 30, 2006

The Thing About Smoking

I’ll admit it. I’m an anti-smoking occasional smoker.

From my impudent college days, I put a puffer to my mouth and held the smoke in my cheeks, not inhaling, but so wanting to look cool. I’m orally fixated, my excuse excused me from the Surgeon General’s Warning, and upset! Then I actually started inhaling.

I can do whatever the hell I want. This, I recall, is MY BODY.

Ok, fast forward five years to a less impudent college administrator. I loathe smoking for all the same reasons I did in college. The difference is that I now have the gall to state that I am an uncool, non-caffeinated healthy, avocado eating, 'Laura’s Lean Beef' carnivorous advocate. I am. I also love the taste of a hefty cigar and a sip'o brandy.

Issues 4 and 5 are on the Ohio ballet and I cannot recall the last time (ok, I can – presidential election of 2004) when I was so politically heated. Granted, I’m not twisting my go-go-gadget head around a floral wedding centerpiece to holler at a stranger like I was in 2004, but a rather feisty advocate has emerged in these last few years as I take slow ganders over advertisements and actually read labels, addicts’ stories, and the reality of second-hand smoke.

Besides the proverbial “my contacts dry out and my eyes sting, smelly hair and pillow (the latter is optional if you don’t shower before bed), my clothes need to be dry-cleaned” argument, the only resounding point I come up with is: I WANT CLEAN AIR. I am the kind of person that convinced my Philip Morris employed brother to quit the empire and to come cheer on the good side of humanity. I am the kind of person that, yes, under inebriation, steals a rare puff from my best smoking friend because I engage in occassional bad behavior. Bad behavior? Check. Actively killing myself and my lungs? No.

This is my message to smokers: you can be the lung destroyers of the world – because it is your right to do whatever you want to your insides, just like my college experience attested. But, this November 7th, I refuse to be taken down with you. I refuse to walk into any given restaurant and have no choice but to simply sit in a cloud of smoke, to be inconvenienced to find of a non-smoking establishment (when you're thisclosetokentucky, it's difficult), inhale toxins, and shorten my life. Hey! When I want to kill my lungs, I'll do it on my own time and smoke outside so no one else is affected by my bad behavior.

We drink alcohol. It’s apparently within our right to poison our livers and destroy brain cells. There’s no law that says you can’t get drunk (outside the 21y/o thing), but you can’t get drunk and then recklessly put others at harm. Hence, there are laws regulating what we do afterward. We are not allowed to operate vehicles or other large mass machinery out of concern for everyone’s safety and well-being. Right? We have rights, but there’s laws created to prevent us from potentially hurting another human being.

Is smoking really that different?

Follow me.

There are a lot of smokers, but that shit you blow out is inhaled by me, dining and welcoming service employees- who are mostly women- children, and other passer-byers. That smoke floats over the ineffective barricade and adheres to my nostrils, my lungs. My rage raises as you flick your butt outside car windows, into lawns, and start fires in college residence halls. But that's going beyond Issues 4 and 5.

For Ohioans, Issue 4 is a well known to be backed by Tobacco companies. Issue 5 is backed by the American Cancer Society. For f*ck's sake, you figure it out.

This, I recall, is MY BODY.


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