Audacity of the Smoker Etiquette Has Little to Like

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And the Teenage Smoking Saga Continues

Just the other day I was enjoying a walk with my wife. As often occurs we will stop at a convenience store to pick up something and carry it back home like a home movie, coffee, bread, or whatever. We also refer to this as a shop and walk day. You know, get your exercise in and pick up some daily conveniences.

On one particular stop my wife went inside the store while I stood outside as she picked up what was needed.

As I was standing there enjoying the sun’s rays on my face and the peaceful surroundings, two youths approached me and rather abruptly asked me for a smoke. First of all, I have to say their approach was not smooth and it ruined my vibe. In other words, this type of experience is always a negative one for me. I find being asked for a cigarette by anyone to be annoying.

You first must understand this has happened to me more than once. Like you, I’m sure you’ve experienced the same thing. I’m also sure you’ve had your own thoughts on this matter and have come to some similar conclusions, or maybe it is of no concern.

However, for each episode like this, it always catches me off guard and it is also an uncomfortable one because of past experiences. I think about my general response while processing the request in the moment. And as always, I tell them “I don’t smoke.” They give me no attitude, a little attitude, or a lot. Some move on while others linger doubting my integrity. What? Really, I look like a smoker? Guess I must.

Although these events occur infrequently, I’m still baffled with all of the thoughts that go through my head when I’m asked this type of question, Can I “bum” a smoke? Or can I borrow a cigarette? Or do you have a cigarette?

And the first thing that always comes to mind is “the audacity of the smoker’s etiquette.” What do I mean by this? Well its coming, hang on for a second.

First I’d like to say; the bad smoker etiquette approach “asking me for a cigarette as if I owe them something” has bothered me for years. And the bad etiquette encounters have mostly to do with our youth’s attitude.

Why don’t I say what’s really on my mind after the request? Probably like you, it’s not worth the rash of crap the youth will give you. It’s probably best to say you don’t smoke and move on [whether you smoke or not].

After all, even if I did smoke, why should I or anyone else give them a cigarette?

Like you we’ve all thought the same thing [Why should I give you a cigarette? I don’t even know you] but rarely speak our thoughts at the time. If you do smoke you may politely hand over a cigarette because you identify with their need for a smoke. Or, they see you smoking, ask for a cigarette and you hand one over because, “who needs the hassle.”

Well I’m here today to speak my mind on the absurd nature of many habitual smokers in our society that have the audacity to “bum” a cigarette as if it is another entitlement program owed to them that others are expected to provide.

What’s really absurd?

If I did smoke, why would I just give away an expensive vice to someone I don’t know? Or for that matter, a youth on the street that is under the age of eighteen? Did you card them before you handed over the cig? Of course you didn’t. Who needs the hassle right.

I didn’t look like a smoker in my outdoor walking attire; I also had at least 30 years in age on both of the teens. I don’t know, maybe it’s a sign of the times. But I’d never asked an older gentleman for a smoke when I was their age during my short smoking stent as a teenager.

“I can’t stand people that can’t afford their own habits,”

And if I did have a cigarette, “I’m thinking, I don’t even know you, why would I give you a cigarette to begin with?” It’s not like your starving, or in need of water. How is it you beg for your fix, but won’t take the necessary steps to assure and provide for your own addictive wants? But you seem to be well feed and dressed?

If you can’t afford your habit, maybe you should look at considering a change of jobs. Or for that matter, quit bumming off of your parents and take some initiative and responsibility for your life… Get a job, join the military, do something, find purpose!

Oh, and how about the health risks!

Ah, forget that one, they don’t care “and I get it.” There young and immortal.

I’ve often thought about saying “I can’t contribute to the nails in your coffin, ‘but who needs the negative vibe that would surely follow.”

Even though I don’t smoke, I think it might be fun to see what type of response I could get from a number of “creative” no statements. Then again I think, “Who needs the hassle.”

"When I reply to the request, as I always do, “I don’t smoke,”

I’m always given an attitude like I’m lying to them. What is that and why is that? Then again, do I look like a smoker? I don’t even carry the swagger of a smoker. I don’t get it. The last time I smoked a cigarette was in my mid-teens. I must resemble the “Marlboro man” or something.

Basically, those that smoke and can’t afford the habit also appear to be young, addicted to nicotine, selfish, lazy, party-hardy indulgent, self-entitled brats. I don’t know, then again, maybe it’s me. Maybe in my older age, it’s bothering me more… No, I don’t think so; it’s always bothered me, even when asked as a teenager. Why? I worked and purchased my own cigs during my youth. I didn’t bum off of others.

I suppose it wouldn’t bother me so much if they’d ask and move on. But the lip service and body language [audacity] exemplifies our youth’s poor smoker etiquette upon encounter that continues to reinforce my disdain for this type of experience.

Maybe this pet peeve of mine has caused too much sensitivity and I should lighten up on the matter. Maybe I should just get over it. Okay, I’m over it already! I’ve said my peace and I feel better. “At least for now or until the next time some young punk asks me for a smoke.” Then these thoughts will start up all over again. “The saga continues.”

It is just a fact, and a part of our culture many young smokers that roam the streets tend to have very poor attitudes, won’t work to fuel their habits and feel entitled to smokes that are freely handed out on the streets by many that identify with their request. And today’s smoker’s attitudes don’t bode well for etiquette that was typically associated with the coolness of smoking when I was a teen. Oh, and when I did smoke the few cigarettes during my smoking days, I had a job, bought my own cigs and would never think about asking an adult stranger for a cigarette. It was not considered cool to be bumming off of anyone other than your peers. And even at that, your peers didn’t have a problem with you bumming a few cigs off of them, but eventually, they’d say, “I can’t stand people that can’t afford their own habit, get a job!”

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Comments 4 comments

Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota

I was laughing at this because I totally get how annoyed you feel about this. I do have quite a comment I tell the punks. I say, "no thank you, I'm a lung cancer survivor." You should see the looks on their faces. They always say, "Really" and I reply, "really, and I never smoked." To that response, they get away from me as fast as they can, due to feeling uncomfortable. I can't feel guilty about it because it's true. I never ever smoked yet ended up with lung cancer. I have always thought it so rude to have young kids coming up to me to bumm a cig. Like you said, I don't even know you and even if I did, why can't you buy your own. The whole thing just totally bums out my vibe. LOL

GREAT HUB!!


woodamarc profile image

woodamarc 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Great come back "I'm a lung cancer survivor." I'm going to use it! Thanks for the positive feed back.


Debra Bee profile image

Debra Bee 5 years ago from Arizona, United States

Great and fun hub and so true! Back in the late 70's those people who bummed smokes were called an OP. There were called this because they smoked Other Peoples cigarettes. I knew a few OP's and they were definitely annoying!


woodamarc profile image

woodamarc 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Great input Debra Bee. I haven't heard of OP's. Now I'm armed with another comeback to use if necessary.

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