Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Two on a match, no more 18 / 30

I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life.  I spent four years under a drug addiction that nearly ruined my life.  I borrowed drug money from a group of bikers known for their angelic affiliations with Hell.  I went to law school.  I paid money to see The Adventures of Pluto Nash.   So when I say what is on my mind right now, I want you to understand that I am not trying to say that I am perfect, or smarter than other people or a better person than others.  Now, those may be true, but you didn’t hear me say them.

Smokers of the world – use your damned brains.  You are sucking on a tube of burning, chemical laden, cancer causing, plant matter that has been artificially made more addictive so that the companies that manufacture them can continue to make money killing people.

There are very few products which serve no positive value whatsoever, the use of which in accordance with the manufacturer’s suggestions, and as intended to be used, cause harm to everyone that uses them.  In fact, I can’t think of a single other product on the planet that is even in the same ballpark as a cigarette.  Sure, fast food and junk food are bad for you, but they do actually provide a modicum of nutritive value.  A Happy Meal isn’t the best thing that I can feed my sons, but even if it isn’t the best thing, at least it has some redeeming qualities.  A handgun is intended to kill, and that is almost always bad, but it can be used for target practice and for saving a life so, close, but no cigar.  Or maybe that’s no cigarette.  A cigarette, on the other hand, has no positive effect, unless you are addicted, in which case you feel better when you smoke, as your body stops going through withdrawal.  Of course,  while you are feeling better about getting your fix, the smoke you are inhaling is slowly killing you.

But that’s not what I want to say to you.  If you want to suck on the world’s slowest moving bullet, then all the power to you.  Like I said, I have done some damned stupid things too, and who am I to judge.  I do reserve the right to mock.

What I want to say to you though, is that you don’t have a right to smoke.  Nope.  Nowhere, in any law in Canada, are you granted a right to smoke your cigarettes.  So lay off the complaining about how you can’t smoke in restaurants and bars anymore – some of us would like to enjoy a meal or a glass of wine without being subjected to your second hand smoke.  And stop bitching about having to smoke outside now – be thankful that the city hasn’t enacted laws similar to some municipalities, where even public parks and sidewalks are no smoking zones.  For the record, I would support such a bylaw here in Halifax with great enthusiasm.

And if you wouldn’t mind not congregating in your smoking group around the bike rack at my office building, that would be fantastic.  Because nothing ends a beautiful sunny morning ride to work like having to walk through a thick cloud of cancer causing smoke, then brushing aside used cigarette butts and trying to hold my breath long enough to lock up my bike and escape.

Full disclosure time – once upon a time I was a casual smoker.  In other words, when we went to the bar, I would smoke.  I quit smoking, and the only thing harder that stopping smoking was quitting cocaine, and that wasn’t a walk in the park.  So I understand how hard it is to kick that habit. 

What I don’t understand though is people under the age of thirty who are starting to smoke.  Older folks might be able to play the “when I started, we didn’t know!” argument, but anyone under thirty (hell, maybe even forty) has no such defense.  Anyone who started smoking in the last ten years has had to look at the gory details of what smoking will do to them on the outside of the box, read past that Surgeon General’s warning which takes up more space than the name of the brand, brush aside all of the hard science which conclusively proves that smoking causes heart disease, cancer, impotence and emphysema and still manage to light the cigarette.

Why???  I can begin to understand why people keep smoking – it is damned hard to quit, but I can not, for the life of me, understand why anyone starts.  It ain’t cool folks.  It doesn’t make you smarter, faster or stronger.  You might make some new friends out of the smoking group in front of my office, but outside of that… there’s nothing to be gained and everything to be lost.

Whether or not you are quitting or not, at least stay the hell away from my bike rack, OK?

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