Okay, folks. Sit on down and let me talk to you about something that seems to be pretty back-and-forth these days; nic-sticks, cancer sticks, smokes, cigarettes.
We’re bombarded with messages from both sides. In media, smoking has often been portrayed as stylish and glamourous. Sultry jazz divas charming the microphone with a cigarette between wine-coloured lips, leather-clad badasses racing muscle-cars with impossibly attractive women on their arms.
Now, if you were raised in a similar society as I was, from day one, you’ve also been surrounded with the propaganda that all screams the same thing; smoking’s bad, mkay? I grew up with the D.A.R.E. program which focused on everything from alcohol to drugs, but they also touched on cigarettes and their effects. I grew up with a family with very set morals against it. So, what do I think? Are cigarettes really all that bad?
Yes. Yes they are.
(now, all you smoking enthusiasts out there; bear with me. My views on this are far from black and white).
It’s not exactly a secret that cigarettes cause a multitude of health problems. Hell, we’ve had it jammed down our throats all our lives since as far back as I can remember. It does a serious number on your body, and yes; addiction is an issue. There’s the danger of second-hand smoke, causing harm to those around you. So, my mind seems made up; why am I even talking about this?
Well, despite everything you’ve just read, I’m a smoker.
Yep, I smoke cigarettes. I’m no chain-smoker or anything; generally, I smoke socially. Frankly, I’m not a very social person, so one small pack of cigarettes will take over a year to go through; and that’s with lending most of them out to fellow smokers. I simply don’t smoke very often. However, from time to time, I do enjoy a cigarette every now and then. Why? Well, why do people like to enjoy the occasional beer? Or get a new tattoo? Or eat copious amounts of sugar? Everyone has something they enjoy that’s not exactly good for them, a vice as it were. I simply chalk it up to one of my favourite philosophies; everything in moderation.
In all things, going overboard is never that far away. The best thing you can do is be educated about something before jumping in if you’re unsure. If you understand the risks and problems, who am I to stop you or say you’re right or wrong? All I ask is that you are mindful of others whilst you make these choices. In this case, the biggest example I must stress is second-hand smoking. I know it’s unfortunate, but it is a danger. I do not see smoking as a free-pass to be inconsiderate. For example, I don’t smoke around children. If I know a child nearby can even see me smoking, I will lower the cigarette, or put it out and light it up later; I don’t want to be an influence to them at such a young age when it comes to something you should only really do when you’re old enough to really understand the severity of the potential consequences.
If I’m walking with someone who doesn’t smoke, but I decide I’d like a cigarette, I always check first, and I never subject them to the smoke more than I absolutely must; it’s as simple as standing downwind, taking it easy on blowing that smoke everywhere, etc. But generally, I won’t smoke around non-smokers as it’s not fair of me to subject them to a choice they didn’t make.
Now, right here I’m specifically addressing the non-smokers out there; specifically the ones who are anti-smoking advocates. All I ask if that if you see someone smoking, that you take it easy on the hate. I’ve had it happen to me; I’ll light up for my semi-annual cigarette and all of moments later, I’ll get the look of disapproval, or even sometimes a little mini-rant on how unattractive it makes me look. Generally, I simply say, “who says I desire to be seen as attractive through anyone’s eyes but my own?”
People will always find your flaws and many will be happy to point them out. Maybe you’ve got tattoos or piercings; maybe you have no tattoos or piercings. Maybe you’ve dyed your hair a wild colour, maybe you’re wearing a brand of clothing that isn’t 100% vegan.
Fuck those people. The only one you need to be concerned about when it comes to your aesthetic value is you. You like how you look in those skinny-jeans? You wear them whenever you please. You like wearing that adorable frilly dress? Own it; you know you can. Just know that everyone still has their opinions, and people will think as they please regardless of your feelings. To those people, you have my respect; all I ask is that you grant me the same courtesy I have shown you by keeping those opinions to myself unless it’s brought up. I’m not going to judge you based on how attractive I think you are, or how you’ve made one choice I wouldn’t have; I will judge you based on the kind of person you are. How do you treat the people around you? That’s the essential question I ask myself before I really decide whether a person is worth my time or not.
So folks, there’s two bottom lines to be said:
- If you’re a non-smoker and proud, you go on with your bad self. Just remember that not everyone thinks like you, and while you are welcome to your opinions, that doesn’t mean you get a free pass to attack those around you for their choices. Save it for someone who really deserves the hostility.
- If you looooove your nicotine-sticks, I’m not going to judge you if you love your nicotine. I partake every now and then and I enjoy an occasional cigarette myself. All I ask is that you uphold the same standard that should be upheld whilst drinking; smoke responsibly, know the risks, and be considerate.