Smoking: Still Totally Cool

I used to love smoking. For years smoking allowed me to take longer and more frequent breaks at work, was a good excuse to get off my ass and go outside, and frequently allowed me an opportunity to start up a conversation with another smoker. Taking a drag on a cigarette was a nice natural pause in every conversation. I was a better listener and, perhaps, a better person when I was a smoker. I could happily engage anyone for hours over coffee and cigarettes. The sky seemed a brighter shade of blue and I spent more time alone with my thoughts.

When I quit, it was largely by accident and I didn’t notice a sudden surge of vitality. My teeth didn’t get whiter, my penis didn’t get bigger, and my lung capacity remained unchanged. My apartment did not unexpectedly become filled with workout equipment and I did not acquire a bunch of healthy new friends. I have tried numerous times to get re-addicted but it has been so difficult. It’s almost as if I have lost my taste for it entirely. I’ll get a halfway through a cigarette and find myself with a headache or waking up the following day with mild sinus congestion. I also cringe at the thought of the tobacco industry’s decades of upsettingly aggressive marketing, despite cigarettes getting us through both World Wars and being at the center of America’s most prosperous period in history.

It’s a lot to think about and I’m not suggesting that everyone go out there and buy a pack of smokes this instant. While they may stop Parkinson’s, they cause a laundry list of other harmful diseases. They probably won’t kill you right away, however. You’ll likely have plenty of time to have a career, start a family, or even become President before your habit finally forces you into an early grave. And, when you do die before all of your loved ones, you’ll have a big funeral with lots of people showing up and talking about how great you were. They’ll cry and remember you forever and you’ll never have to see them get sick or pass away. You will have left the party early, probably because you were so much cooler than everyone else in attendance.

America has banned smoking nearly everywhere and cut its smoking population in half over the last couple of decades. It was the number one health awareness campaign for years and it seems to have worked. But, in a world where you can tell a dangerously obese person that they are prefect just the way they are, we should be willing to commend smokers for possessing that little bit of extra flair. One of the best photos I’ve ever seen is that of a dog wearing sunglasses with a cigarette hanging out of its mouth. It was the kind of picture that made you want to learn how to skateboard so you could teach that dog.

Who was with me when I had some of my best ideas? Cigarettes. When I was broke and only ate enough canned food and coffee to keep myself from starving to death, who gave me that little extra bit of energy? Cigarettes. When I was depressed and found myself alone in a two story pre-war in Detroit, what was the one thing that got me out of the house? Cigarettes. When someone insulted me and I needed that extra two seconds to deliver the perfect comeback, who always had my back? Cigarettes.


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50 Responses to Smoking: Still Totally Cool

  1. It is a shame that you and your bff mr cigarette and you fell out of touch. He sounds like a good friend to have.

  2. thesagemum says:

    I was so badass when I smoked. (No one can confirm this except me.) Now I vape because my doctor said I needed to quit. It sucks, and I hate vaping.

  3. hranken says:

    Reblogged this on Hannah's London to Edinburgh Walk and commented:
    Love this. Great post!

  4. girlseule says:

    I only smoke when I am drun these days. It’s gross and smelly but it does make me feel a bit cool.

  5. mcbarlow5 says:

    As a smoker, I was just thinking about this today. Although my office building is exempt due to also having non-state tenants, as of tomorrow smoking is prohibited on all state government property in Kentucky. Yes, a state with one of the largest tobacco growths in the nation is banning smoking, including e-cigs, on its government property.

    I’m not advocating smoking, which obviously can be a cause of costly diseases. However, obesity causes health insurance rates to go up too, and I haven’t seen any fat people getting Big Macs smacked out of their hands.

    It just seems to me that smokers are among some of the most discriminated against people in the country now. Ok, rant over!

    • Smoking can be sexy. There is nothing sexy about pounding down fast food, however. I don’t see why people hate smokers more than everyone else out there destroying themselves.

      I remember Kentucky being one of the few states you could still smoke indoors after they banned it in NYC and in my home state of Michigan. I would say they have other issues, like education an poverty, to tackle well before smoking. Although I guess it’s nice to see them worried about health.

      • mcbarlow5 says:

        I guess, and agreed on education and poverty.
        This charming exchange was put on our church member fb page after I smoked outside and put my butts in a trash can yesterday:

        “Comment: To the person who smoked two cigarettes in the restroom next to the Nursery today I wish to thank you! I truly (sic) enjoyed stepping into to find the stench of your cigarettes lingering in that nice small confined room. I didn’t mind the 30-45 minutes of constant coughing this caused due to my allergy of tobacco nor the additional coughing over the hours after this. I completely understand your confusion thinking this was an ideal place for a cigarette break.
        Me: Sorry, I smoked the cigarettes outside between helping clean up after the lunch. I brought in the butts after I stubbed them out and put them in the trash, as I didn’t want to litter in the parking lot. So sorry!”

        Btw, I have since found out my office building is not exempt from the smoking ban, so since I don’t have time on break to walk to the edge of the property to smoke, I guess I’ll be smoking in my car and putting the butts in a trash can outside. I dare someone to comment!

  6. Lor says:

    Interesting perspective..I’ve always fantasized about being a smoker but never had the courage to do it, that, and I had asthma as a kid. But if I were to ever – don’t think I wouldn’t hesitate to grab a leather jacket and lean on the window of a Quickmart like James Dean…

  7. Zack says:

    I love cigarettes. I can’t wait until the day when one makes me have sinus congestion and a runny nose, because maybe then I’ll put them down longer than a week.
    Of course, you probably have to put them down longer than a week for that to happen.

  8. prenin says:

    I’ve never smoked, but I’ve noticed the druggy teens are now all addicted to the tobacco they smoked with their cannabis.

    Makes perfect sense that half of what they are smoking is legal and will kill them… :(

    God Bless!


  9. I started smoking because I thought it made me look like James Bond. It did! Then I accidentally got addicted. Woops. Didn’t see that one coming. Quit cold turkey one Halloween night.

    When I first entered the workforce in Manhattan, I worked for a giant public relations firm. They had all the sin products; tobacco, alcohol, soda, fast food. I remember seeing a campaign for Camel cigs. Do you remember Joe Camel? Cartoon of a camel with a phallic nose? It got kids to smoke. Anyway…they went to area beaches and passed out flip-flops. For free! On the bottom, they had embossed the Camel logo and Joe Camel’s face. When people walked on the beach, the left an impression in the sand. I saw photos of beaches COVERED with Camel logos and Joe Camel. They were called “camel tracks.” Pretty insidious, don’t you think?

  10. markwoff says:

    Ah, ciggies.
    As the Viz parody poster suggests:
    “Let’s face it – you could get hit by a BUS tomorrow. Go on – have a fag!”

  11. Never smoked so I have no experience (except for the second-hand variety of smoke, which I find offensive). The cost of a pack should be enough to get people to quit, I’d think!

  12. FINALLY A PIECE OF LITERATURE THAT DOESN’T MAKE ME FEEL LIKE THE VILLAGE PARIAH FOR SMOKING!! Thank you! Yes it’s bad for me, yes it’s going to kill me one day, yes I smell bad after a night out chain smoking but I am young, carefree and irresponsible and I will quit when one day I have to inevitably grow up and attempt to be an adult. Great post! X

  13. Charlotte says:

    Ohh man, I hear you loud and clear. Things were simpler with a cig in your mouth, even thoughts seemed clearer. Whatever happened to those days of joy… now ALL we are left with is healthy lungs bleh

  14. Yinzerella says:

    I agree with everything here 1000%

  15. Trey Willis says:

    I loved smoking and I miss it so much sometimes. I quit before the indoor ban in NC, but bitched about it loudly and frequently just to be obnoxious.

  16. urbannight says:

    The Bottom Line, a bathroom reader put up in our stalls at work, is all about this being anti-smoking month. It says 1 in 5 adult Americans still smoke. I’m not sure that is correct. I started listing all the people I know and who smokes and I didn’t come across a smoker until after 15 people and then that person doesn’t smoke tobacco. So I’m not sure she counts.

  17. ginjuh says:

    This reminds me of David Sedaris’s essay about quitting smoking.

    • I haven’t read it. In what way?

      • ginjuh says:

        He, like you, steeres clear of the “I can’t believe I ever smoked, it’s such a nasty habit…” sort of statements and tells a really interesting story; one I enjoyed reading though I don’t and have never smoked. It doesn’t read like a testimony. His story, I think, is in the book “when you are engulfed in flames.” Again, enjoyed your post.

  18. Thank you! As a college kid who currently is a double major- one being philosophy- I love smoking after class with my professor. Great conversations happen over cigarettes- one of my deepest happened over cigarettes and a White Russian. Everyone has nagged me to get an e-cig but I still prefer my “coffin nails” as my husband and I sarcastically call them.

  19. kbeck13 says:

    I quit smoking years ago because I’m stubborn. I was sick and hadn’t smoked for a few days. When my doctor said “and I bet you’ll just start up again when you feel better huh?” I thought to myself “b***h, you don’t know me!” Even though she was right I couldn’t have that, so I quit. I also have asthmas and am allergic to tobacco…whoops. Still miss it though. Especially when being creative.

  20. oh you like to smoke out the ironies, don’t you

  21. I loved the cartoon at the end of your post! But as a dental hygienist who spent over twenty years dredging around in the mouths of people who smoked, I’m glad you quit. I never saw a smoker who didn’t have some degree of periodontal disease. I even saw it in a fifteen year old girl. I don’t doubt that you miss it since it’s very addictive. One dentist I worked for (who had quit smoking years before) wistfully said if he made it to 80, he’d start smoking again because he missed it so much. I would feel the same way if I had to give up chocolate. And that ain’t going to happen.

  22. Arslan says:

    yeah! smoking is cool, but all the smokers aren’t cool as smoking (if you know what I mean :P )

  23. anna says:

    I thought I had left smoking behind. I think you can see where this story is going.

  24. R.J. Koehn says:

    I’ve never been a smoker. Tried it a few times. Didn’t like it. But I sympathize with your sentiments and understand where you are coming from. I had many friends in college who did smoke. Even to t his day when I walk by someone smoking I feel like stopping and hanging for a while. It smells good to me at times and brings back happy memories of college, in-depth discussions, and late nights during finals week.

  25. samdfb1 says:

    nice blog post. Smoking is also banned here in the UK. I mean. The pubs are now empty. Seriously.

  26. Richelle says:

    I only smoked for a short time to be relevant back in the day, and never got addicted. Isn’t it sad that all the vices out there makes us feel we are at our best? I know I am certainly very witty after a nice gin and some glasses of wine. I’m sorry you had to lose such a good friend. Looks like you’re going to have to push those funeral plans back. :)

  27. I achieve a similar effect with syringes of heroine. ;)

  28. You deliver zingers while shooting up?

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