I Hate Cigarette Smoke, But I Also Have Problems


With this column, I will undoubtedly alienate a percentage of my readers, but I don’t care. I must take a stand.

I vehemently dislike cigarette smoke. you know, the kind that is generated by a smoker. I started out to say I dislike smokers, but that isn’t true. Some of my best friends are smokers. And I’m sorry about the odds that they’re going to get sick and leave me before they should, but they are free to make that choice.

Still, it’s the smoke itself that bothers me on a day-to-day basis.

I wouldn’t mind if smokers’ smoke didn’t enter my personal breathing space, but it does. I wouldn’t mind if smokers’ health insurance didn’t raise the cost of my own health insurance, but it does. And I wouldn’t mind if smokers’ clothes, hair, teeth, homes and cars didn’t reek of smoke, but they do. Yuck.

And it hurts people’s feelings when you ask them to stand downwind — no, further… further. Well, you understand what I’m saying. And it hurts my feelings when, halfway through dinner or a movie, they start getting antsy. Suddenly, we have to leave. Why do I have to leave? I’m not the one with a monkey on my back.

But I try to look at things from their point of view. They got this way because smoking used to be cool. It still looks cool in a devil-may-care, I-don’t-care-if-I-die sort of way. A guy in a leather jacket, leaning against a motorcycle, dragging on a cigarette does look cool — as cool as that iconic cowboy who propelled a not-to-be-named-but-you-can-Google-it brand of cigarettes from relative obscurity to No. 1 in the world back in the 1960s.

Incidentally, five of that brand’s different cowboy models died of cigarette-related illnesses — one as young as age 49 — but we won’t focus on that.

Yet in order to have some empathy, to “walk a mile in their moccasins,” I will take a closer look at my own addiction — chocolate.

How many times have I offended someone with my “chocolate breath?”

What is the likelihood that their insurance costs will rise because of my inevitable diabetes?

And can I honestly say I have never gone to an important meeting with a chocolate smudge on my blouse, bits of wrapper in my hair or chocolate chips stuck to my teeth?

Yes, my home smells like chocolate, especially my secret hiding places. Yes, my car smells like chocolate, especially on grocery day. And I have left a movie in the middle to go to the snack bar… twice.

Come to think of it, I have leaned against a motorcycle in a leather jacket, sucking on a chocolate Tootsie Roll Pop, although I actually did not look that cool.

So I’ll back off my rant against smokers. “Let he who is without sin cast the first m&m.”