I Just Don't Understand: Why Do People Still Take Up The Smoking Habit?
A few weeks ago I was at the supermarket looking at one of those celebrity tabloids in the checkout line; don't ask me why, I think it was Star or OK! or something like that, when I saw a photo, undoubtedly from the paparazzi, of Britney Spears holding a pack of Marlboro Lights as she was walking down the street.
Later on I spotted a picture of the former Kelly Bundy herself, Christina Applegate, lighting up after having a mastectomy for breast cancer; a cancer survivor continuing to do the very same thing that probably caused her illness in the first place.
Not to mention the fact that Mary Kate Olsen's and Lindsay Lohan's nicotine fixes have been well documented in paparazzi shots, websites like TMZ, and magazine articles.
After thinking about all of the young teens and twenty-somethings who continue to take up this nastiest of habits despite the long-known facts about cigarettes and other forms of tobacco causing lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and countless other ailments, it all leaves me with one question...
Why, in spite of all the proof of smoking killing not only the smoker but the people around said smoker due to the effects of secondhand smoke - which kills over 50,000 people in the United States a year - do people continue to start this habit knowing full well how it will end up for them?
Is the desire to be seen as "cool" and "hip" by the so-called "in-crowd" really that overwhelming in their teens and early twenties that they need to take part in something that produces the foulest of smells and will kill them and others around them when used correctly?
Do they really think that cigarettes will make them seem more mature and adult?
I don't understand it.
Especially when one considers this: The fact that the main component in tobacco, nicotine, is a highly addictive drug, more so than cocaine, crack, heroin, and most certainly marijuana.
We're talking about a narcotic that is so hard to kick, a habit so difficult to break that millions of dollars are spent on nicotine gum, patches, and pills by those who've seen the error of their ways and have realized the mistake they made by lighting up.
Add to that the fact that the average smoker who tries to quit the habit usually fails multiple times before the nicotine urges end for good; the addiction is that strong.
After learning all of this, how can anybody in their right mind possibly subject themselves to that noxious weed?
I think about all the famous people who've tragically died due to their smoking habit, lifelong cigarette users such as John Wayne, Walt Disney, Jacqueline Onassis, George Harrison, and even recent passings such as Patrick Swayze; those were individuals who did not have to die the way that they did.
However, they do get a pass of sorts for one reason: At the time they started smoking, it was not known that tobacco was bad for you - it was considered the thing to do, a right of passage into adulthood. Smoking was so accepted that cigarettes were included in the soldier's ration packets on the battle front during World War II.
The generation commonly known as the Millennials, people in their teens and twenties, has no excuse.
They have learned as children the dangers of nicotine and tobacco smoke, they know all too well the damage it can do, and there's still a percentage of that population that begins what is considered to be one of the worst habits a person can have, if not the worst.
I see them with Newports and Camels on the street and other places, and I just don't get it.
Perhaps they are just ignorant and dumb.
Personally, I have always hated cigarettes, even as a little boy. I remember imploring my older cousins not to smoke when I was around five or six.
And I've made no secret about my feelings toward cigarettes, cigarette smoke and those who produce such filth. Whenever someone lights up near me at the bus stop or in the park, I always use a newspaper or a magazine to fan the dirty fumes away. I have also told people many times, in a forceful way, "I don't smoke!", whenever I'm asked for a cigarette or a light.
I look at someone who's smoking a Kool or an American Spirit - or any other brand - and think, "There's a stupid scumbag."
Pretty obvious, huh? I'm sure people are saying right now, "Tell me how you really feel about this."
The number of American smokers has declined significantly in the past few decades, which is very good to see. Thankfully, more and more people are catching on to how nasty tobacco is and are avoiding it like the plague.
Unfortunately, I know there will continue to be young people who will pay homage to Joe Camel and start smoking in order to be thought of as "cool" and to emulate the celebrities that dirty their lungs because they want to be like them.
Eventually they will reach the point where they'll realize how stupid they were to pick up the habit and will want to - and try to - quit, but will find it extremely difficult to do so.
Unless they rid themselves of those "cancer sticks", those slaves to nicotine will die a needless death.
I guess there's only one more thing to say about all of this, a message to all of the young folks (and others) out there:
Don't ever take that first puff or even think of starting that obnoxious habit.