Friday, January 4, 2008

A Wild Rant...

...having nothing to do with knitting, reading or cats, and bearing my apology to any who might, by my words, be offended.

Smoking. Cigarettes. Now, I remember "Camel Green" - Camel cigarettes changed their red packaging to green during WWII because some element in the red dyes could be used in the war effort. I remember ads in magazines stating that the cigarette companies were sending cartons to the servicemen in hospitals. I remember the Marlboro Man...and I know that the model apparently died a grim lingering death from lung cancer. I know what it says on the cigarette packages. I've read all the Warnings and read all the stuff about a smoke-free environment.

And I have a problem with it. I diligently taught myself to smoke when I was 19, as a character I played on stage smoked. My father didn't complain (but did say he wouldn't buy cigarettes for me). We sat together in the Smoking Logue at the movies and saw the British "Carry On" films. I think I smoked Parliaments then, because he did (I did TOO buy my own, though).

I was out of high school by then, but I smoked in college. When I had my first child, they took me out of the delivery room where my husband joined me; then they put an ashtray on my stomach and he and I had cigarettes. I never smoked as much as a pack a day. I had an ashtray on my desk at work, in the old days (most of the time they burned out by themselves).

Well, Mr Dearling doesn't smoke, never has. It bothered him, so when he moved in, I quit. I might have a cigarette out with friends after a meal, but I largely quit. I also learned that I'm apparently lucky: if I don't have cigarettes, nothing in particular happens. I enjoyed them rather a lot, but didn't have a problem when I didn't. I guess there are people who drink that way - they enjoy a glass of wine or a drink (or two) now and then, but they don't drink otherwise. I feel pretty bad for people who couldn't take a four-hour flight when they banned smoking on airplanes because they couldn't go that long without.

OK, you have surely noticed, in this day and age smoking is worse than crack , one of the Cardinal Sins, makes you into a whore /robber/ axe murderer Very Bad Person; therefore, smoking is NOT ALLOWED. You get cancer, wrinkles, big feet, and your hair, eyes and teeth fall out. And you will be declared "Pariah" (which Mr American Heritage tells me is a "social outcast" and all that implies.

Now...smoking is unhealthy. It's ill-advised to start smoking if you never have. Kids know that. There's no shortage of publicity to that effect, and of course each pack of cigarettes carries Dire Warnings in clear language right on the pack.

As mentioned above, I "largely quit" years ago. However, in times of extreme stress (a son taken to the hospital), or in occasional social situations, or in moments of meditation, I have a cigarette. A pack of cigarettes lasts me. Months. Weeks go by, without my ever lighting up a coffin nail cigarette. And when I do, I enjoy the experience.

But the current attitude, according to law, advertisements, signs and television messages, is that smoking is illegal; smokers are nefarious people out to kill everyone in town with their malicious, evil and intentional second-hand smoke. And all of that makes me (passive-aggressive that I do not deny being) want a smoke more than anything else does.

Now, the flip side, of course, is that we smokers owe it to our families, friends, fellow citizens and the People of the World to be courteous. Fellow smokers, do NOT light up in any area where it might be offensive or troublesome to another person. But conscious, aware, knowledgeable people who are over 21 (or over 31 or 51 or...say...almost 65 years old) should not be made to feel that they're committing sins, and (this is my final line) if they add one dollar for tax to the price of each pack of still legal cigarettes, as they have here in Wisconsin, then I say add a whomping tax onto the price of hard liquor too, maybe $15 tax on each bottle. I haven't ever read of a smoker veering into another lane and destroying a van filled with a family including children.

There will be no rant against drinking, although I find drunken behavior very objectionable. Social drinking, drinking in moderation, do not trouble me at all. (Confession: I am of the opinion that, upon birth, each Human Being is allotted a finite quantity of booze to consume in his or her lifetime - the truth is, I probably drank my whole allotment up during my college career. Yeah, I know. Shut up. Nevermind.) We basically don't drink now, but have no problem being with people or in situations, where drinking is happening. But I think mindless drunks cause a lot more serious problems than someone hangin' around having a cig, so booze should be taxed to the point where you have to be really really rich to enjoy a drink with your cigarette.

Thus ends my Major Rant for 2008.

Just sayin'.

Editor's note: the passage of a new tax on cigarettes (which I find outrageous, unfair and otherwise totally crapacious) is solely responsible for this rant.


kmkat said...

Hmmm. I smoked for a few years in my early 20s but quit when I started dating my husband; he had quit a few years earlier and was quite vehement on the the subject. Both my parents smoked and both died from cancer, my dad from cancer that started in the lung and my mother from ovarian? uterine? cancer. Anyway, the anti-smoking stuff doesn't bother me.

What I would really like to see, though, is some really, really effective anti-smoking marketing aimed at lower-income teenagers and preteens. I think they are the ones most likely to smoke (and engage in all kinds of risky behavior, but I digress). Self-esteem-building and competence-enhancing stuff is what they really need; the risky behavior is rooted in those issues, I think.

I didn't know about $1/pack increase in WI. Where will the additional revenue go, do you know?

Linda L. said...

"Wild"? Not at all. How refreshing to find someone whose opinions are exactly the same as mine.

My father was an alcoholic for years until kidney failure and a transplant that saved his life made taking one more drink a threat to that gift. I, too, had my wild college years until one drink too many finally forced me to see that for me, alcohol was "stupid juice". I did stupid things when I was drunk, and so I quit. People are astonished when I say that I don't drink. It's like I'm abnormal; some sort of alien life form.

But I smoke. I see it as self-medication. I don't like the smell, I don't like the smoke in my eyes, and I don't like the cost. I like how nicotine affects my emotions - like some people who feel better with a pint of Ben & Jerry's and a big spoon, or a Big Mac and large fries (ironically topped off with a diet coke), nicotine helps me deal with all the crap I have to put up with on a day to day basis. I smoke because other forms of nicotine dosing (patch, gum, lozenge) cost more, and I only have so much disposable income. Some days I need more nicotine; some less. I survived an eight-hour trans-atlantic flight without nicotine.

kmkat - the state says the extra taxes will be used for more sponsored stop-smoking programs and health care for those affected by smoking-related illnesses. But call me a cynic... I have the sneaking suspicion the politicians will use it for $5000 toilet seats and $300 gold-plated pens.

When the $15 tax per bottle of booze and the 25% tax on fast food goes into effect, *then* I'll believe the nanny-staters are truly interested in our well-being.

(end rant)

Diane said...

Not a smoker but I find it disturbing how non smokers bully smokers and think it's ok. The risk a smoker assumes is theirs to deal with; no different than someone who drinks or eats to excess.

The worst part is how the government seems to keep piling on taxes who are used to fund programs that have nothing to do with smokeing prevention.

gayle said...

Another smoker signing in here...
My biggest gripe is airports sending smokers outside to smoke, then making them come back in through security. Seems to me that the security lines wouldn't be so bogged down if they only would make a smoker's lounge somewhere in the secure-passenger-area. Manchester, NH airport had one of these, but I've heard that they recently shut it down. Sheer stupidity...