Smoking Rant

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.

38 thoughts on “Smoking Rant

  1. Sarah the Writer

    Ugh! I know EXACTLY how you feel! I've been around cigarette smoke since I was in 6th grade (my best friend's mom and step-dad smoke). A bunch of kids on the bus I rode to high school had to have their morning cigarettes before joining the rest of us at the bus stop – and they just happened to have those cigarettes on the corner that I had to pass to get to the stop! I learned early to hold my breath when passing smokers, which came in handy when I started college: so. many. people. SMOKED! I think the most common was the Asian exchange students (my college has a big program for Asia University students to study there). I passed very few of them who didn't have a cigarette in their hand or mouth. And all smokers constantly disobeyed the rule (which I think is more of a law, but I'm not sure) that they need to stand 25 feet away from entrances. Plus, many smoked in covered areas, so the smoke billowed around. So what if it's raining? It's Washington – it rains a lot here! Besides, if you're gonna smoke and ruin your and others' health, you deserve to get wet!

    Anyway, my whole point is that I know how you feel about smokers and I agree with you, from all the way over in Seattle :)

    Reply
  2. Sarah the Writer

    Ugh! I know EXACTLY how you feel! I've been around cigarette smoke since I was in 6th grade (my best friend's mom and step-dad smoke). A bunch of kids on the bus I rode to high school had to have their morning cigarettes before joining the rest of us at the bus stop – and they just happened to have those cigarettes on the corner that I had to pass to get to the stop! I learned early to hold my breath when passing smokers, which came in handy when I started college: so. many. people. SMOKED! I think the most common was the Asian exchange students (my college has a big program for Asia University students to study there). I passed very few of them who didn't have a cigarette in their hand or mouth. And all smokers constantly disobeyed the rule (which I think is more of a law, but I'm not sure) that they need to stand 25 feet away from entrances. Plus, many smoked in covered areas, so the smoke billowed around. So what if it's raining? It's Washington – it rains a lot here! Besides, if you're gonna smoke and ruin your and others' health, you deserve to get wet!

    Anyway, my whole point is that I know how you feel about smokers and I agree with you, from all the way over in Seattle :)

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    Are you absolutely sure you don't have any habits of your own that somebody else might find disgusting and nauseating? There might be somebody out there right this minute ranting similarly about you…

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Are you absolutely sure you don't have any habits of your own that somebody else might find disgusting and nauseating? There might be somebody out there right this minute ranting similarly about you…

    Reply
  5. Katie

    Matt, she had an estate sale because she needed to clean her grandfather's house out after he died. You want to insult me, fine, but please have a little sensitivity toward people you don't know.

    Reply
  6. Katie

    Matt, she had an estate sale because she needed to clean her grandfather's house out after he died. You want to insult me, fine, but please have a little sensitivity toward people you don't know.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    Smoking is extra sublime after yoga practice. Even better after running a WHOLE marathon. More than you'll ever know I guess…

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    Smoking is extra sublime after yoga practice. Even better after running a WHOLE marathon. More than you'll ever know I guess…

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    “please have a little sensitivity toward people you don't know.”

    Like all those smokers you don't know who you would like have disappear? That's a lot of parents and grandparents.

    (I'm pretty sure Matt would never use the word “kvetch.”)

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    “please have a little sensitivity toward people you don't know.”

    Like all those smokers you don't know who you would like have disappear? That's a lot of parents and grandparents.

    (I'm pretty sure Matt would never use the word “kvetch.”)

    Reply
  11. Rebekah

    hooray awkward internet fights.

    I've been thinking about whether or not to respond… I know you said it was your intent to offend people so maybe this is dumb of me, but since we're friends I felt kind of upset about this. I started smoking recently because I was stressed out about some stuff going on… maybe it's gross/fucked-up/offensive, but I think we all have gross/fucked-up/offend things we do. and I mean, EVERYONE does shit that hurts/offends other people. it's part of being human and being in a relationship with other people (in any capacity). like, I get being angry/upset/bothered by stuff, but why wish people off the face of the earth? especially people you care about?

    Reply
  12. Rebekah

    hooray awkward internet fights.

    I've been thinking about whether or not to respond… I know you said it was your intent to offend people so maybe this is dumb of me, but since we're friends I felt kind of upset about this. I started smoking recently because I was stressed out about some stuff going on… maybe it's gross/fucked-up/offensive, but I think we all have gross/fucked-up/offend things we do. and I mean, EVERYONE does shit that hurts/offends other people. it's part of being human and being in a relationship with other people (in any capacity). like, I get being angry/upset/bothered by stuff, but why wish people off the face of the earth? especially people you care about?

    Reply
  13. Katie

    Okay, apparently this didn't come across to some people, but in the first paragraph I was being facetious- I do not ACTUALLY want every smoker to disappear. And I also do not have a problem with people smoking where it doesn't bother anyone. I do have a HUGE problem with people smoking in places where it not only bothers people but MAKES PEOPLE SICK. Can we all agree that people shouldn't do that? Thanks.

    Reply
  14. Katie

    Okay, apparently this didn't come across to some people, but in the first paragraph I was being facetious- I do not ACTUALLY want every smoker to disappear. And I also do not have a problem with people smoking where it doesn't bother anyone. I do have a HUGE problem with people smoking in places where it not only bothers people but MAKES PEOPLE SICK. Can we all agree that people shouldn't do that? Thanks.

    Reply
  15. Jessica

    I completely understand what you mean. I have a 20-minute walk to and from work every day downtown Chicago, and it's pretty much impossible not to inhale cigarette smoke on that walk. It's frustrating for me because I have made the choice not to smoke, and yet I am still facing potentially negative consequences because of other people's decisions. As you said, I am a proponent of people having the right to do what they want with their bodies as long as it doesn't cause harm to me. But people smoking as they walk down the sidewalk in front of me is physically harmful to me, and it's very difficult to avoid. My only real smoke-free option is to take a bus to work, which costs $2 each way and robs me of my daily exercise.

    I've also found that people don't generally obey the 15-feet-from-the-entrance rule, so I often have to hold my breath when exiting a building to avoid inhaling the smoke.

    If you're going to smoke, that's your decision, but please have common courtesy for those of us who would not like to breathe your smoke.

    Reply
  16. Jessica

    I completely understand what you mean. I have a 20-minute walk to and from work every day downtown Chicago, and it's pretty much impossible not to inhale cigarette smoke on that walk. It's frustrating for me because I have made the choice not to smoke, and yet I am still facing potentially negative consequences because of other people's decisions. As you said, I am a proponent of people having the right to do what they want with their bodies as long as it doesn't cause harm to me. But people smoking as they walk down the sidewalk in front of me is physically harmful to me, and it's very difficult to avoid. My only real smoke-free option is to take a bus to work, which costs $2 each way and robs me of my daily exercise.

    I've also found that people don't generally obey the 15-feet-from-the-entrance rule, so I often have to hold my breath when exiting a building to avoid inhaling the smoke.

    If you're going to smoke, that's your decision, but please have common courtesy for those of us who would not like to breathe your smoke.

    Reply
  17. Jessica

    I completely understand what you mean. I have a 20-minute walk to and from work every day downtown Chicago, and it's pretty much impossible not to inhale cigarette smoke on that walk. It's frustrating for me because I have made the choice not to smoke, and yet I am still facing potentially negative consequences because of other people's decisions. As you said, I am a proponent of people having the right to do what they want with their bodies as long as it doesn't cause harm to me. But people smoking as they walk down the sidewalk in front of me is physically harmful to me, and it's very difficult to avoid. My only real smoke-free option is to take a bus to work, which costs $2 each way and robs me of my daily exercise.

    I've also found that people don't generally obey the 15-feet-from-the-entrance rule, so I often have to hold my breath when exiting a building to avoid inhaling the smoke.

    If you're going to smoke, that's your decision, but please have common courtesy for those of us who would not like to breathe your smoke.

    Reply
  18. euphoria33

    I agree with you 100%. I can smell cigarette smoke half a block away and it totally disgusts me. It stays in my nose and throat for hours. Eww! Yes, I feel physically sick from it, too. My neighbor below smokes and it stinks in my apartment. Stale smoke. Gross. He doesn't realize he's killing me up here. I can't even breathe fresh air in my own home. Believe me, I have asked him nicely to smoke outdoors and I have spoken to my landlord but he continues. I HATE LIVING HERE NOW but so far can't find a cheaper apt in a safe neighborhood.

    Reply
  19. euphoria33

    I agree with you 100%. I can smell cigarette smoke half a block away and it totally disgusts me. It stays in my nose and throat for hours. Eww! Yes, I feel physically sick from it, too. My neighbor below smokes and it stinks in my apartment. Stale smoke. Gross. He doesn't realize he's killing me up here. I can't even breathe fresh air in my own home. Believe me, I have asked him nicely to smoke outdoors and I have spoken to my landlord but he continues. I HATE LIVING HERE NOW but so far can't find a cheaper apt in a safe neighborhood.

    Reply
  20. euphoria33

    I agree with you 100%. I can smell cigarette smoke half a block away and it totally disgusts me. It stays in my nose and throat for hours. Eww! Yes, I feel physically sick from it, too. My neighbor below smokes and it stinks in my apartment. Stale smoke. Gross. He doesn't realize he's killing me up here. I can't even breathe fresh air in my own home. Believe me, I have asked him nicely to smoke outdoors and I have spoken to my landlord but he continues. I HATE LIVING HERE NOW but so far can't find a cheaper apt in a safe neighborhood.

    Reply
  21. Melissa

    I know how you feel! This is an especially tough subject for me right now because being pregnant, I especially don't want to be exposed to second hand smoke – I never wanted to in the first place, but I really don't want to be now. Even the smell gets to me and makes me feel sick to my stomach right now. When I have to work with patrons or when somebody is smoking in our apartment building, it's very hard on me

    Reply
  22. Melissa

    I know how you feel! This is an especially tough subject for me right now because being pregnant, I especially don't want to be exposed to second hand smoke – I never wanted to in the first place, but I really don't want to be now. Even the smell gets to me and makes me feel sick to my stomach right now. When I have to work with patrons or when somebody is smoking in our apartment building, it's very hard on me

    Reply
  23. Anonymous

    I know how you feel too. If I am around smokers, it never fails – I get a vicious headache and then comes nausea. It makes me feel like I have the flu. Since when does someone have the right to make me feel so sick I have to go to bed? Not to mention the carcinogens!! If they want to smoke – can't they do it in private?

    Reply
  24. Anonymous

    I know how you feel too. If I am around smokers, it never fails – I get a vicious headache and then comes nausea. It makes me feel like I have the flu. Since when does someone have the right to make me feel so sick I have to go to bed? Not to mention the carcinogens!! If they want to smoke – can't they do it in private?

    Reply
  25. Anonymous

    I know how you feel too. If I am around smokers, it never fails – I get a vicious headache and then comes nausea. It makes me feel like I have the flu. Since when does someone have the right to make me feel so sick I have to go to bed? Not to mention the carcinogens!! If they want to smoke – can't they do it in private?

    Reply
  26. Anonymous

    Just like to say it's especially dangerous to pregnant women. Walking out of the grocery store and then immediately throwing up because of the smoke around me is no fun, nor is it fun to be concerned for my health and my baby's health. Just saying.

    Reply
  27. Anonymous

    Just like to say it's especially dangerous to pregnant women. Walking out of the grocery store and then immediately throwing up because of the smoke around me is no fun, nor is it fun to be concerned for my health and my baby's health. Just saying.

    Reply
  28. Anonymous

    Just like to say it's especially dangerous to pregnant women. Walking out of the grocery store and then immediately throwing up because of the smoke around me is no fun, nor is it fun to be concerned for my health and my baby's health. Just saying.

    Reply
  29. none of your business

    In the first paragraph of your little diatribe, you clearly and definitely advocated mass murder of people who have a habit you find offensive. Well, Sieg Heil, darling!

    When can I expect your storm troopers to break into my house and murder me in my sleep. I’m only asking because I like to have some treats on hand for visitors.

    Reply
  30. Michael

    I decided to give up cigarettes and have a shot at the glory hole whenever I craved one.

    Now I have AIDS

    Reply

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