Sometimes I think that if I could press a button that would wipe every smoker off the face of the earth, I’d do it.* Sure, there are a few of them I’d miss, but it would be worth it to be able to walk down the street and not have to smell and/or breathe in other people’s cigarette smoke.
I need to get across here the depth of my hatred of cigarettes. I have ranted here before about texting, obnoxious people on the T, and Arrested Development. But I would willingly travel the length of the T surrounded by obnoxious people, text until my fingers cramped, and watch the entire series of Arrested Development in one sitting if it meant that I’d never have to endure another person smoking ever again.
This is not because I don’t want people who smoke to die. It’s purely for selfish reasons. The smell of cigarettes makes me physically sick. I get headaches and stomachaches from secondhand smoke. If someone who just smoked a cigarette sits next to me, even that smell can make me sick.
But here’s the thing: even though smoking in restaurants, bars, and just about any place of business is illegal in Massachusetts, secondhand smoke is really fucking hard for me to avoid. Since I don’t have a car, I spend a lot of time walking around, and so many people walk down the sidewalks smoking and sending waves of smoke backwards. Or pause on the sidewalk next to a building to smoke. I am training for another half-marathon right now, and I cannot tell you how many times cigarette smoke has interrupted my runs.
Why on Earth is this considered okay? Yes, I know, it’s an addiction, it’s hard to quit, there are worse things that people could be doing, blah blah blah fishcakes. You know what? I DON’T CARE. Cigarette smoking is the only addiction that other people are forced to smell while minding their own business in public places. At least people who do hard drugs have the courtesy to indulge their habits in private.
And that’s not the only way that smokers ruin other people’s lives. I know three separate people, living in three separate houses, who lost their homes due to fires caused by other people’s cigarettes. I’m angry just writing about it.
No matter how hard I try, I cannot have any sympathy at all for anyone who forces other people to breathe in their cigarette smoke. If you smoke, you do it where no one who doesn’t want to smell it has to. Period. I don’t care if those places are hard to find. They should be. The alternative is quitting, not smoking where other people have to smell it.
Also, I just don’t understand it. Aside from the smoke, the physical act of smoking grosses me out, too. You are inhaling smoke into your lungs. I know that once you start you can get addicted, but…why would you ever want to try it to begin with? Just what is the appeal of inhaling smoke?
I’m also kind of amazed at how many people around here smoke. This is Boston, a city full of well-educated people who shop at farmer’s markets and do yoga and are obsessed with awareness of all kinds of issues. How are so many of them dumb enough to smoke?
And the only thing worse than a smoker is a self-righteous smoker. Googling “smokers’ rights” turns up more than 14 million hits. Um, I’m sorry, smokers’ rights? SMOKERS’ RIGHTS? Newsflash, assholes: YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS AND YOU SHOULDN’T. There is nothing written in the Constitution or the law of common sense that says that you should be able to smoke wherever you want. The rest of us, though? We most definitely have the right to be able to breathe the air in our own communities.
Oh, what’s that? Have I pissed some of you smokers off with this post? GOOD. You’ve pissed me off. But until I’ve forced you to breathe in chemicals that make you physically ill, all because you had the audacity to walk down your own street, I can’t say we’re even.
*I thought I’d made this clear, but of course I don’t ACTUALLY want to wipe smokers off the face of the earth. I was being facetious. But I do want smokers to stop making me sick when I walk down the street, and I do genuinely mean every other word of this post.