Puffy Jacket

Oh, how I once longed to smoke.

Truly. When I was in college I tried sober in a coffee shop; I tried drunk in Mexico, I put some serious effort into picking up the habit. There was something alluring about the intense inhale followed by that seductive plume curling from someone’s mouth.

Smokers had an air about them, and I wanted into that air.

I know, that’s funny because there was little actual air in a smoky bar, but I didn’t care. We’re all dying anyway, right?

Smokers defied the basic need for the fresh outdoors, maybe even clean water, at least for barely-twenty-something me.

They were the cool people with tired eyes and worn out jeans. They read bigger books, were better lovers, felt deeper. The definition of tortured artist or elusive poet.

The power of advertising, entertainment, and popular opinion, I suppose.

Never has the phrase, “What comes up, must go down,” been more appropriate. The fall was mighty. Smokers seemed to go from James Dean to a sad sideshow freak sent outside the tent near the elephant poop.

They are under glass at airports and scoffed at for that same cigarette that once dangled so seductively from Marlene Dietrich’s lips.

Smoking is no longer used in commercials, or seen in entertainment, save Quinten Tarantino films and Mad Men. It’s the leper habit now, the dirty little secret.

Don’t get me wrong, the smoke cleared from my eyes eventually and I realized all the coughing and yucky morning afters were a sign I was never going to be badass enough to hold down a serious addiction.

I am grateful these many years later because I have plenty of vices without wearing a patch or chewing gum. My lungs, although we don’t talk, are probably happy too.

I no longer want to be a smoker, but it is bizarre how something so accepted, celebrated even during certain eras, could suddenly become relegated to the lonely street corners in front of corporate buildings.

I suppose we could say part of the turn was due to death and education, but that seems a little flimsy because there are plenty of things we humans still do willingly that lead to illness and death.

No, I think behind all the indignation and fist pumping that smokers are awful, horrible, environment polluters is the simple fact that they fell out of fashion. Society decided smoking was no longer a “thing” and banned it from the land of normal along side driving without a seatbelt, skiing sans the helmet, and SPAM.

Huh, I wonder what will be shunned from the cool kids’ table next?

I recently read that alcohol is responsible for more deaths than prescription opioids, heroin, and cocaine combined. Maybe that’s up for villain, although my fingers are crossed that someone exposes the ugly truth about cardio or kale.

My thoughts from the laundry room. Late Night.

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10 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I liked the post, but I have a different understanding of the backlash against smoking in recent years. Tobacco and industrialized smoking is/was a fairly unique problem to tackle in society because of the way it integrated so well into every facet and level. When you look at alcohol, opiods, etc… their dangers are immediately visable (i.e. overdose). Smoking on the other hand may give you a wicked cough after a couple solid months of chiefing, but it’s danger is nowhere near as obvious as other addictive substances. That helped it to get pulled into society on a level that other drugs have not been able to enjoy. Doctors prescribed it, family friendly programming advertised it, celebrities used it, and society loved the quick buzz and no imminent death involved.

    Fast forward to the first mainstream studies linking cigarrettes to lung cancer, and we are now facing an unprecedented health crisis with a substance that is practically synonymous with culture. The only response possible to defeat the rampant advertisment and addicition wasn’t to ban tobacco, tax it, regulate it or anything of the sort that the government could do. The only real answer was to attack tobacco in the cultural level (the place where corporate sway and money gives way to real people’s thought and perception). Make tobacco uncool was the only practical way. A PA announcement about the long term risk of cancer (that isn’t even garuanteed to afflict smokers) isn’t going to stop a teenager (who thinks themself indestructable), but seeing their favorite celebrity talk shit about smokers just might save that poor adolescent.

    This is just my take. Thanks for the though provoking post!

  2. I loved this! I’ve always grown up HATING smoking, but now I live in a town in Germany where smoking is still so popular…and everyday I’m convinced smoking is still the coolest looking thing!

  3. It’s funny…I grew up in a house where both parents smoked as did most of the neighbors. Now if I watch an old movie with my 18 year old she is flabbergasted by how many characters in them smoke, women, men, old, young. It was just part of the story. You’re right about it no longer being fashionable. That why Hollywood shuns it as well. Weird…

  4. After an exceptionally awful day of work, I decided to take up smoking. I bought a package of cigarettes and eagerly lit one up at home. It was a doomed “project” as I discovered I couldn’t keep the darn thing going and I really didn’t like the taste of tobacco. After several attempts, I gave my almost new pack of cigs away to a serious smoker. . .

  5. I get it. As a teen, when I got really mad at my parents, I would buy a pack of cigarettes and maybe smoke a quarter of one:). Thinking I was all James Dean. In college, I tried brown cigarettes–thinking them sophisticated. But each time, I took only a few puffs–never really inhaling–and realized I did not enjoy tasting like an ashtray. Sigh. Us good girls need to find some vices:).

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