Member Rara Avis
I can't believe I've missed this one!!! One of my favorite topics!!!
Yes, I am a smoker. Come this January, thirteen years, which brings me to my first point: I've seen more than one person point out the legal age for cigarette purchase in their area. In mine, it was 18. Do the math, I'll be 27 in January. What? I broke the law??? Oh my goodness, kids don’t actually follow the rules?
I’m sure you see where my sarcasm is going. I grew up in a household of smokers and around relatives and friends of my parents who smoked. Whether or not the physical addiction was possibly created at this time I can’t say (though I do remember that I didn’t hack my lungs out the first time I took a full drag...) I can say however that it instilled in me the idea that smoking was “cool.” As it’s been stated, the physical addiction lasts a few days... the psychological addiction... well, I was in boot camp for three months. The first thing I wanted when I went out on leave was a cigarette. You tell me.
Back to my point - The law means little, when it’s a cool thing to do. Laws are often and easily circumvented in situations like these. I know it was a simple matter for me to find “that” store which sold to minors. So this takes away some of the responsibility of the person smoking, since they were after all underage? No, but I think it certainly contributes to making the addiction that much harder to kick.
To the addictive properties: Yes, nicotine is physically addictive. So is caffeine, alcohol, amphetamines (read sinus medication, Vivarin and other “stay-awake” pills, some drugs, illicit or not, etc.) many, many prescription drugs, of course the illicit drugs, and more. If you really want to get down to it, you can say that things like air and water are addictive as well. Physical addiction is “achieved” when the body becomes adjusted to something to the point of being “unable” to cope without it.
The point then, would be whether or not the addiction is harmful. Yes, nicotine is harmful. Caffeine is as well, though less so. Alcohol, drugs, etc. - all harmful to varying degrees. But what about things like air and water? Yes, they too. I know that I inhale more carcinogens from stepping outside my office every evening than I do from smoking in an entire month. The pollution caused by the big cities, the distressingly large amount of traffic, etc. is by far worse for my lungs than smoking. Water these days, unless you purify it, has more chemicals than a pharmaceutical! What’s healthy about that? And these are things that affect everyone, not just those “nearby.”
And then you have the psychological addiction... what here isn’t as well? Sex, drugs, cigarettes, soda, chocolate (oh yes, there are people who are addicted to chocolate), the internet, television, you name it. Virtually everything can be addicting depending on how you look at it.
So here’s where I try to bring the philosophy into this. However in the interest of brevity (which I know is already out the proverbial window) I will limit it to one “small” area of discussion.
Why are cigarettes such a focus in comparison to alcohol?
I think it probably comes down to several reasons, and most of them rooted in that nasty portion of the world called the human psyche.
Smell- Ok Brian, you tell me that to someone who hasn’t been drinking, that the odor of one who has isn’t distressing. Excessive consumption of alcohol seeps through the pores and causes the person to smell like an ill-tended brewery. I know, I’ve smelled it... it’s nasty! But, if you’ve been drinking, you don’t notice it. Same for cigarettes. Most smokers can’t smell that “bad” smell.
Health- Cancer! Oooh. Sorry. First, not everyone who smokes gets cancer. On the flip side, many who don’t smoke DO get cancer. My grandpa on my dad’s side died of lung cancer... weird though, he never smoked a cigarette in his life. And not everyone is unhealthy. I can run two miles in under fifteen minutes no prob and I don’t run often. While many people I know who don’t smoke, or hell, even drink can hardly walk to the mailbox without breaking a sweat. Alcohol - Yes, it can be good in moderation. But as with so many things, moderation is a word, and not an action most people adhere to. When you count the amount of deaths contributed to alcohol... staggering. Yet I can’t remember the last news report which talked about someone slaying a group of children waiting for their bus because he was “smoking and driving.” Liver disease, brain damage... damage to families from people who react in drunken rages. Again, can’t remember the last time someone actually followed through on the threat: “If I don’t’ get a cigarette soon, I’m going to hurt someone!” And you know as well as I do, that’s simply the surface of the damage alcohol can and does incite.
Morality- You know, I have an image in my head that the first person to discover the process by which one can produce alcohol, had a cigarette in his mouth. (I know, but I still have that image in my head...LOL) Smokers in some form or another have been around.. well, a long time. It’s not a new idea and in fact during older times was quite the fashionable thing to do. Today, well it’s stopped being fashionable. But alcohol is! Wow, is it ever! When California banned businesses from allowing smoking inside, did they also ban the sale of the alcohol? They wanted to prevent those inside the restaurants, etc. who weren’t smokers from being endangered by its affects. But did they stop the guy who drank too much, or even a little - just enough to impair his judgement - from leaving? Stop him from getting into his 2000 pound death machine to assault some one who wasn’t even in the restaurant? No, of course not. And why not? That’s the next reason and in a way, my answer:
Money- And I guess with this, we should add power. Money begets power. Power, come down from the law makers and the “influential” people. The sale of alcohol is a BIG business. So is smoking, you may say. And that’s true. But the difference here is the result. (I WILL get to the money and power bit in a second, but first let’s lay some ground work for it.) Cigarettes produce a momentary high. To a smoker, it doesn’t feel that way, rather it has a “calming” affect. But in reality, it speeds up the blood and makes your heart beat faster, producing a small high. Alcohol on the other hand, produces a much more noticeable high. If done in excess, smoking will make the person ill if anything, but it will not produce a “higher” high. Alcohol on the other hand... well, the more you drink, the higher you get. (Though this too is a misnomer as alcohol a depressant...) Eventually you can (and if you’re this far likely will) make yourself sick. However, there is that high! You feel great/energetic/relaxed/whatever. The affects differ from person to person. Now is where we start going back toward the money/power bit. Imagine the people in power... no, not the presidents, etc... the people with the REAL power. The people who make the laws and “dictate” fashion. Of COURSE they want that big high! They want that thing which will do whatever it is that alcohol does for them. So when it comes time to choose an evil to eradicate, which one are they going to choose? The one that doesn’t make them feel as good, of course! Alcohol has become something which is socially acceptable whereas smoking’s a no-no. Money... the focus is in the power and the power is in the high. Higher high for a more powerful power.
But I wouldn’t get my hopes up anytime soon for having cigarettes “banned.” They may try, but it won’t happened. It was proven with the prohibition that banning an addiction doesn’t make it go away. Instead, it opens avenues for more illicit dealings, which in turn increases crime in general. (Like begets like.) Take a peek at the increasing populace of marijuana smokers. Even in my short memory, I can see the increase from then (when I was younger) to now. It’s almost more common to know people who smoke marijuana than it is someone who smokes cigarettes. I imagine it won’t be much longer until this too is legalized. In a way, I think the governments will have to legalize it. They not only stand to make a lot of money off of the taxes, they would also decrease crime inasmuch as that directly associated with it’s use and sales. I’m not saying it’s right, or anything like that... I just see it as something that will happen.
And ok, I’ll shut up here soon. Please understand, I’m not saying smoking is good. In fact, I emphatically urge those who haven’t’ started not to! It is a nasty, dangerous demon which will haunt you. What I am saying though is that I think we should look at smoking as ”THE” evil in the world. Instead, look at it as one of the evils... and in my opinion, one of the lesser ones.
Peace *puff* out -
[This message has been edited by Christopher (edited 08-26-2000).]