Anyone born in the past few decades has grown up with the implicit knowledge that smoking is addictive. It kills and affects more than just the smoker in terms of long-term, indoor exposure. Although, it is a choice; at least for now.
The impression left by anti-smoking ad campaigns and old men hoarking at Dundas and Spadina is one of complete displeasure. A surreal world where the smoker is so intoxicated by addiction that they are blind to the pointlessness and harmful nature of their suicidal tendency. Smoking is made to seem so addictive that nic-fittting zombies would riot in the streets in an incoherent wave of frustration without their miniature greenhouse gas producers… So, let’s just let them keep at it.
With constantly rising prices and diminishing places to choose to smoke, a very important question has been missed: “What about the zombies?”
Stats Canada reported in 2009 that smoking rates had remained steady between 2005 and 2008, despite significant increases in taxation. The Canadian Cancer Society suggested that this was because of the high accessibility of illegal “cheap smokes” in Ontario. This is sure to be true to some extent; but another fairly obvious explanation could be that people simply enjoy the act.
If you’re someone who chooses to smoke, there’s no reason for you not to take pleasure in it. Until you quit, of course. So, here’s some advice:
1. Don’t Rush It:
- Take slow, long draws. Remember to breathe real air, even if it’s cold. If you’ve got three minutes to down a smoke, it’s better to toss it early than to inhale it whole.
- Smoking and running don’t walk hand in hand. While there is something to be said for strolling with a butt, rushing makes the act of smoking an unnecessary source of additional stress.
2. Buy Your Brand:
The cost of cigarettes has doubled in the past decade. Considering that smoking has traditionally been a poor man’s habit, these attempts at forcing people to quit by making it too expensive are a misguided stab at tough love (or a misleading cash grab).
As such, we’re in the midst of a cheap smoke invasion. With exorbitant costs, come no-name and illicit alternatives. While easier on your wallet, they can leave you with a more putrid feeling than the branded/regular options. Like no-name mac and cheese, it’s just not the same.
If you’re lucky enough to truly enjoy a cheaper brand, then good on you! As for the rest, smoke what you like even if it means smoking less. If and when you do quit, it’ll be a triumph over your actual addiction, not a lesser substitute.
- There is no better coupling than alcohol and cigarettes.
- If you smoke and don’t drink, you’re missing out.
- A Journal of Human Resources study published in 2005 showed that moderate drinkers had 10% higher income than abstainers. Heavy drinkers had 12% higher income.
- The same study also found that (employed) smokers made 8% less than their fresh smelling counterparts…. Though, that’s nothing a little heavy drinking can’t counter.
4. Don’t Stress:
People commonly start smoking because of peer pressure (to look cool). However, once you are a smoker, it has little to do with “being cool”. It’s an aphrodisiac, a vanity (sure), a stimulant, and an act that can be simple, enjoyable and unique. Studies have shown that people who smoke because they’re stressed are much more likely to get lung cancer. Some people even stress about smoking while they’re doing it. So, if you haven’t quit (yet) and find yourself conflicted, butt-out and relax. There can be as much empowerment in saying no to a puff as inhaling one.
Smoking culture isn’t just the bond of a common addiction. It’s a personality type (addictive), a form of socialization (generally sarcastic), and a way to enjoy alone time all-in-one. Beyond being something to do with your hands, smoking is a form of celebration and mourning, packed neatly into a thin, paper tube. After a large or greasy meal, there is no comparable feeling.
5. Know That Nay-Sayers Should Repent:
- Don’t let the glares get to you. When people pass you on the street and give that “stop trying to kill me” look, remember that they are ignorant. Smokers aren’t trying to harm anyone, but themselves. Obviously, most non-smokers don’t want toxic gas blown in their face. What they may not get is that people who smoke aren’t standing around waiting for their next unsuspecting victim to pass. They are just being themselves, often consciously blowing smoke away from passers by. And honestly, a gust or two isn’t likely to harm anyone.
- This isn’t Germany (and even they’re caving). People in Canada don’t smoke in stores, in theatres or restaurants and they’re not complaining about it. It’s when a person can’t smoke in the street or on a patio (under an awning) that we run into a genuine problem of individual rights.
6. Smokers are bad. They Litter.
A few years ago, the city of Toronto began dotting the urban landscape with garbage bins containing a butt disposal slot. This is a very smart start to help keep the streets free of cigarette filters. The weird thing is that as part of the sweeping anti-smoking legislation of the past decade, smoking in most public spaces is illegal. Businesses aren’t even allowed to have their own butt-disposal stations outside of their front entrances. So, what is one to do if they’re nowhere near one of these, somewhat contradictory, sanctioned jettisoning units? Well, there isn’t much you can do, unless you want to walk around reeking of an overstuffed ashtray.
Take back the streets! Banning butt cans outside commercial properties is ridiculous. Allow businesses to have their own disposal units to control the mess. Unfortunately, people will not stop smoking because they are forced to litter.
‘Til Dealth Do Us Part
Does the fact smoking is a bad choice mean that those who choose to do it are lesser beings? Cigarettes are a readily available, extremely addictive and will forever be “cool”, especially if people keep being told they’re not. Even in a country as liberal as Canada, almost one-fifth of the population is discriminated against. While it is never justifiable to expose children to consistent smoke indoors, once one reaches the legal smoking age, they can “partake” as much as they’d like (or afford) to. Those who would expose the vulnerable to pointless harm are not “smokers”, they’re “jackasses” When I see a child walking down the street towards me, I usually tuck my cigarette up near the palm of my hand and wait for them to pass before inhaling my next breath of relaxation.
Well, if you weren’t before, you are hopefully now physically and mentally prepared to enjoy a guilt-free puff. Remember, smokers have rights too. Most importantly, be comfortable with what you’re doing while doing it. Everyone else can fester passively with their full lung capacities and shiny, white teeth.