Smokers Need Not Attend

I'm a smoker. I have no other vices, unless you count shoes and purses, and we all know those don't count. I have a self-imposed two-drink maximum on most occasions, don't kick dogs, work hard and am always ready to give you the proverbial shirt off my back without being asked. Over the years, though, I've become the family outcast. Whenever company comes over I smoke outside or in the garage if it's cold (and Chicago winters can get REALLY cold). I don't smoke in the house when kids are over, and don't smoke in anyone else's house unless by some miracle, they are smokers and give me permission to do so. At family gatherings whether I am hosting or not I head outside to light up and sit by myself for the time it takes to smoke a cigarette. Am I doing anything illegal or immoral? No, not yet. But it seems like the day is coming where I'll be rounded up and sent to the leper colony (I mean, smoker's colony).

Today I was invited to a Labor Day picnic. Everyone was outside in the 90-degree heat and humidity. I chose to come home and be alone because as the only smoker at the party, I was sitting alone anyway. Why? Because every so often I would have a cigarette. This is not to say that I was chain-smoking, one after the other, but if I was going to be sitting by myself why should I sit outside and swelter alone when I could be alone in the comfort of my air-conditioned house? When I observed someone waving away imaginary smoke from 10 feet away I decided to go home. So I came home.

There are places I choose not to go for this very reason, especially if the weather's bad. I love to go out to dinner, but I don't like standing 10 feet away from the entrance if it's raining or below zero. Local and state laws now prohibit smoking everywhere, but so far no one is willing to give up the revenue from cigarette taxes. The message is "quit smoking, but don't take away the ill-gotten gains!"

It's interesting to note that while insurance companies provide coverage to treat alcohol and drug addiction they rarely provide benefits for smoking-cessation programs such as laser therapy, hypnosis, or aids such as nicotine gum/lozenges/medication. My place of employment gives employees a $10/month rebate on their health insurance premiums if the employee signs a "smoke-free" affidavit. They also retain the right to charge smokers higher premiums. On the other hand, those who have potentially severe chronic illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, etc., are not so penalized. Why is that? I wonder that it could be legal, but it seems as though it can be.

If I could turn back the clock would I choose to smoke, knowing what I know now? No, of course not. But making me feel bad isn't going to motivate me to change. It's beginning to make me militant, if you want to know!
Until someone invents a magic bullet I guess I'll be spending more time alone. So far I've tried (and failed) with nicotine gum, lozenges, hypnosis and prescription medication. Clearly, I have an addictive personality and I suppose it's a good thing that I've managed to contain it to one addiction. But there are plenty of people who can tank up in a bar and then drive home, risking the lives of others in the process.

Another one of life's ironies...


Geeky Tai-Tai said...

When I saw the title of this post, my first thought was, "Oh no! Mrs. RW is an intolerant former smoker?!"

I've tried everything to quit myself. I've gone months without smoking, but always rationalize "I'll just have one". I know better.

Michael quit many years ago, well, actually a couple of times. Since he quit, I go outdoors to smoke. Otherwise, what would be the point of him quitting?

I do have problems with being treated as an evil-doer in the U.S.

Even though smoking is restricted in other countries, other people don't look down their noses at me.

I am not a bad person, just flawed like the rest of humanity.

Miss Britt said...

It annoys me to no end that smokers (of which I am one) are treated like second class citizens now. If it's going to be illegal, than make it freaking illegal already.

And, I'm with you. Would we quit if it was easy? Of COURSE we would. We don't do it because we aren't aware of the effects, etc. etc. etc. And being outcast and brow beaten certainly isn't going to help.

Dave2 said...

I never thought about it until just now, but many of the people I know who are smokers have since quit. I can only imagine that the current hostile environment for smoking has finally pushed them over the edge, but I don't know for sure.

All I know is that for the nine-month period that I smoked (this was many years ago), the atmosphere was quite different. There were smoking sections in restaurants, you could smoke in a bar, and finding a hotel room that allowed smoking was easy.

Fast-forward to today, and I can't imagine what it must be like. Everywhere you go, smoking is prohibited, and even if you find an acceptable place to smoke, non-smokers STILL pitch a fit. I may not smoke any longer, but when a restaurant owner can't decide for themselves whether or not to allow smoking in their own place, I have to question how insane its all gotten.

L Spryszak, RN said...

Yeah, it'll be the two of us (Dave, you're not human!) standing at the edge of the world - or maybe even farther while we puff away. At least you two don't hate me...

Mocha said...

You reminded me of a line from Eddie Izzard when the Smoking Ban hit California a few years ago.

"And soon! No drinking and no talking!"

The ridiculousness of it all. Oy.

CapricornCringe said...

Mocha, I kind of like the no talking rule :)

I'm kind of in the middle. I smoked heavily for 25 years and now have emphysema. I quit a year ago and it was the hardest thing I ever did, so I have a lot of sympathy for people trying to quit. I have vowed NOT to be one of those people who whine and complain and wave their hands and do that stupid fake cough thing. On the other hand, when I get in a room where lots of people are smoking (not just one or two), it genuinely bothers me. But it's my choice to be there ... I see no reason to punish those who smoke for MY lung issues.

I live in the 'burbs outside of KC and they banned smoking in bars and restaurants in my town back in March. Already 4 small, local bars have gone under. There's a group of people trying to get an exception for these little places. The smoking Nazis seem to have little understanding of the economics of the situation. After all, it's "for your own good."

Who was it who said, "God save me from those who would save me from myself!" ? Whoever that was nailed it :)

Mrs RW said...

As I was writing this post I thought of how stupid it made me sound and almost didn't publish. I get that it's not considerate to smoke inside with non-smokers, but outside?! I suppose my rationale is that if you've been exposed to it for however many years before, what difference will it make now? But that's an addict's logic.

Of course around kids, that's a different story. Keep their air clean as long as possible. I've seen people standing near a running car with the exhaust fumes blowing in their face but if you stand near them with a cigarette they go crazy. Or people who will stand over a charcoal grill inhaling the smoke like that's not going to fill your lungs with carbon dioxide and God knows what else.

And for sure, if I knew someone around me had breathing issues, then I'd be far away. For some dumb reason when it comes to smoking, we can't learn from other's experience...

DaisyJo said...

That bit about the insurance companies makes me mad; mine is the same way.

I'm outside with you.

CapricornCringe said...

I miss smoking sometimes. I really do.

You're right - being outside with non-smokers is a whole different issue and whoever was waving smoke out of the air from 10 ft away was just being silly. And self-righteous.

I'm all for choice. You can choose to smoke, I can choose not to smoke and we can choose to have an intelligent conversation at the same time, in the same room, at the same table :)