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Thursday, November 19, 2009

S is for Smoking

I am of an age when I could, and did, go to the corner store, O'Leary's, when I was five years old and buy for my father a pack, or even a carton, of Winston cigarettes. Of course, I'm also old enough to have seen cigarette advertising on U.S. television, even featuring popular TV cartoon characters.

They were insidious, those cigarette ad. Nearly 40 years after they were banned from the radio and TV airways, I can still tell you that LSMFT translates to Lucky Strike means fine tobacco! I recall that "You can take Salem out of the country, can't take the country out of Salem." Whenever I hear the theme for the movie The Magnificent Seven by Elmer Bernstein, I feel that I'm in Marlboro Country.

Country - a recurring theme. Cigarettes, in addition to being "cool" - there was, or maybe is, a brand called "Kool" - were also supposed to be refreshing, relaxing, rather like the great outdoors. But a study from last year suggests otherwise. Pew Social & Demographic Trends notes Smokers Can’t Blow Off Stress

Ask cigarette smokers why they light up and one answer you’re likely to hear is that it relieves stress.

But if that’s the goal, it’s not at all clear that cigarettes deliver the goods. Half (50%) of all smokers say they “frequently” experience stress in their daily lives, compared with just 35% of those who once smoked and have now quit and 31% of those who never smoked, according to a Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends survey conducted June 16-July 16, 2008 among a nationally representative sample of 2,250 adults.

The finding raises as many questions as answers. Does it mean that the kinds of people who smoke are predisposed to stress? Does it mean that the stress relief smokers get while smoking doesn’t last once they don’t have a cigarette in hand? Or might it mean that the whole idea that smoking relieves stress is illusory?

And more recent reports confirm what I've instinctively known since I was a child: second-hand smoke causes harm As I got older, I started to refuse to buy my father cigarettes, and he got to be all right with that. But then I would steal his cigarettes, not for my own consumption, but in the vain attempt to make cigarette smoking so expensive -they were about 35 cents (U.S.) a pack at the time - that he would cut back or even quit. No, he eventually would say,"Roger, give me back my damn cigarettes." I was a lousy thief.

But I have a far too sensitive nose. I will wait in the rain rather than share a bus kiosk with someone who is smoking. In my building, there are about a half dozen women who all take their cigarette break together; it's tolerable to take the elevator down with them, but after they've sat outside puffing away - let's just say, I'd rather take the stairs back than share an elevator with them.

Kissing smokers is not my favorite thing.

My father stopped smoking briefly when he developed emphysema in his 40s, but when he became asymptomatic, he returned to his habit, which frankly really ticked me off.

He finally stopped a few years later by saying that he wasn't quitting, but that he hadn't had a cigarette today. then another day. And another until it reached the last 27 years or so of his life.

Thursday, November 19 is the date of the Great American Smokeout. But you don't have to choose that date, or even be an American, to set to... quit smoking...for at least one day. And maybe, the day after that.

Pictures once again from



Reader Wil said...

Roger this is a very important post! I think anybody should read it. Smoking is a dirty habit in the sense of leaving dirt in our lungs. I once showed a class of teenage girls what they could see when they smoked a cigarette through a white handkerchief. Many of them were smokers. I believe they were impressed by what they saw. I smoked but once. I disliked the burnt taste and the smell was not to my taste either. I was then 16 years old. I never did it again.

Life with Kaishon said...

Smoking makes me sad. I don't do it but I love so many that do. It is one of those things that you know you should change, but it is too hard too. Kind of like EATING All the time! like me!

Sylvia K said...

Excellent and very wise post, Roger!
I, like Reader Wil, smoked at one time, but fortunately was never addicted, got bored with it before I even realized how dangerous it was. Fortunately, my children don't smoke -- in fact only one person that I know of in our neighborhood smokes and he doesn't do it around others.

Thanks for the wise words!


Hildred and Charles said...

Neither Charles or I smoke now, but he began to smoke when he was flying with the RAF during WW2, - cigarettes that were sent to service people by the Government. As a kindness and a comfort in those days before the danger of smoking became apparent. Sir Walter Raleigh has a lot to answer for, poor fellow.

Mara said...

I suffered some quite severe headaches (bordering on migraines) in the past and I would actually ask my mum to smoke outside when I was still living at home and in a bad state.
I've only tried smoking twice: the first time by putting the burning end in my mouth (too much alcohol) and the second time was several years later when I was really lucky to have a bottle of beer to empty after inhaling! The taste was awful!

Anyway, this S is a great one.

anthonynorth said...

Well, I'm a life long smoker. I've cut back drastically in recent years and hope it doesn't get me. If it does, well, that's my fault - I hate the idea of blaming others for what I do.

Judi said...

Good post. I quit well over 10 years ago. It was an awful, awful nasty habit... and I still miss it. Smoking was like sitting down with an old friend.

My doctor asked if I quit for my health and I told him, no, I couldn't take the guilt!

Tumblewords: said...

I, too, remember how smoking was a symbol of smart and social. Too late, we learn. Those innocent looking sticks are deadly addictive. Great post for S day!

Vicky said...

I thank God for my husband, for his determination, he was a heavy smoker since young but when he thinks he had enough (at the age of 30+) he just quit and he never smokes again ever since.

Thanks for sharing. Have a great week.

Beverley Baird said...

What a great post - lots of very useful info.
My husband just stopped smoking a month ago and we just joined weight watchers. Trying to get healthy together. Thank heavens.

Paula Scott said...

Amen to that! I am with you 300% on this one in every aspect! I have been known to hound my friends about quitting. It did make a difference with one of them. That was worth it. Some are envious of those times when I go home to Hawaii to visit my family. Envious of my destination. I then tell them how many wonderful vacations they could've had somewhere had they quit smoking and saved the money they spent.

Irene said...

My best friend in college used to offer a smoke which I declined. It's cool to puff. 40 years later, she, the rebel, quit. 'I've cleaned up,' she said. Hopefully the image of smoking is tarnished nowadays and we're all enlightened...smelling like ash is not cool.

moongipsies said...

great post... love the older photos

Sistertex said...

An excellent use of the 'S' word. Very important message there in and I also enjoyed the old photos. Thanks for doing this post! Great job.

Rose said...

My children don't believe me when I tell them that smoking was once seen as a sign of sophistication and that it was acceptable to smoke in so many places. We have come a long way, though not far enough.

photowannabe said...

Super post Roger and very important. A smelly and nasty habit which I'm thankful my family doesn't do. I remember when there were smoking and non smoking sections on the plane and in restaurants. I always wondered how the smoke knew how to stay on its side of the invisible barrier...It didn't....

Joy said...

I'm glad that smoking is banned in public places here. The smokers still brave all weather to stand outside, mad and sad. My father too developed emphysema, a very debilitating disease, he was not a heavy smoker but had smoked since he was 14. He gave up but by that point it was too late.

jay said...

I'm with you on the 'sensitive' thing, although in my case its my throat which is sensitive rather than my nose. Makes living with a smoker difficult at times..

It's interesting. Many people say they smoke because 'when I was young, everybody did it'. Well, when I was young, everybody did it (except my mother who had given up by the time I was born) but I never did take it up.

I believe in freedom of the individual to smoke or not to smoke as they please, but I have to say I'm happy that it's been stopped in many public places. Don't see what's wrong with private clubs allowing it, if that's what people want, and I wouldn't object to a (properly vented and air-conditioned) smoking room in pubs, but I'm thankful it's not allowed in theatres and cinemas and restaurants anymore!

jabblog said...

Excellent post Roger! As for 'x' and 'z' - I'm working on them!

Grace and Bradley said...

People make such a big deal of it when the society started to reject smoking. First in the US then in Asia/Europe. It was unimaginable just not too long ago that we can go most places and they are smoke-free.