On quitting…next year

Garrison Ebie

Ah, yummy. The luscious taste of sweet, fresh tobacco on your lips. The beautiful plume of smoke that exuberates from the lungs upon each triumphant exhale. There’s nothing in the world quite like it.

Lots of people smoke. Sometimes I think about classic movies when I think about cigarettes. I think of hardworking detectives hot on the case, gangsters carrying automatic guns and suitcases full of money, gorgeous pin-up girls who seductively glare at you through the camera lens. These people know what’s cool. They’re the ones who get what they want. These people smoke.

For some reason though, people say it’s bad for your health. What rubbish. What could possibly be wrong with inhaling burning shreds of leaves from a plant – one that grows out of the ground? The Native Americans even did it. They’re the ones who started the whole thing, and early settlers on this continent just took the idea until it became manifested into the billion dollar industry it is today.

Ok, yes. I am fully aware of the addictive nature and cancerous side effects of nicotine and tar. It’s just too bad that this stuff leaves heavy users with black lungs, a rough cough and several less years to live than everyone else. As early as 1605 a tax was implemented in Europe on tobacco because King James complained the smoke irritated his eyes.

Lately it’s become quite popular for people to quit smoking entirely. The modern tobacco industry is even required by a court order to offer quit assist programs and promote the hazards of its products to the public. What’s difficult for me to contemplate is a business model that probably spends just as much money advertising its products as it does denouncing them, but that’s just part of the crazy world we live in.

The fact is, it’s just not that cool anymore. You can’t smoke inside public buildings in Ohio. Some people even get prissy about smoking within 20 feet of a door. A pack of smokes in Canada and Europe sometimes have graphic images of stuff like lung cancer patients and aborted fetuses. Television commercials as well thump this propaganda further into the ground.

Because of this constant bombardment of the dangers of the cigarette, the culturally hip thing to talk about now is quitting, giving it up, throwing in the towel.

My least favorite conversations to have are with people who say they need to quit smoking. Okay, this is great. Forget about the health reasons to do such a thing, you can save yourself $10 – $20 per week, and spend it on whatever else you want.

Unfortunately, I consistently have these conversations over and over again with the same people, and it’s beginning to simply turn into conversation filler. This filler sounds a lot like talking about the weather. We’ve all been standing outside talking to a friend when this one comes up.

“I need to stop smoking. I think I’ll do it when I’m out of college.”

Blah blah blah. Apparently, if there’s nothing else to say while lighting one up, why not exemplify how guilty you feel about it?

There are three options for smokers out there. The first is to be damn proud about chaining down a pack a day. Around every corner is another reason why it’s a bad idea, yet some choose to defy what’s reasonable and love every minute of it. I think that way of life is commendable.

Next, a smoker could simply not care one way or the other. Apathy to one’s personal health is just fine as long as they’re not expecting a good life insurance package to go with it.

Both of these can be related to Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Survival of the fittest continues to this day and it is inevitable that the social order will eventually work all this out.

If neither one applies to you, however, the last option is to figure out a plan to stop smoking, or at least not as much. Maybe go from two packs a week to just one.

Society has a tendency to promote the ideal healthy human — one that’s muscular, eats well, zero cholesterol and lives to 100. That image rubs off on some people who aren’t confident enough to keep up their raspy vocals, violent coughing fits and imminent threat of a heart attack.

Nicotine is addictive of course. However, there is still very little in this world that is annoying as hearing someone plan what they’re going to change about themselves then take absolutely no action. The big question is whether or not you really want to live up to the standards of that ideal healthy human or not.

Garrison Ebie is an electronic media production major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].