To All the Smokers I Have Known and Lost

I wrote this as letter to the editor for our local newspaper. It was a reply/ rebuttal to another letter which talked on and on about the freedom and rights smokers should have. I know it is a long and tired argument but it isn’t often that smokers talk about anyone but themselves when they argue for smoking. I thought it was time someone pointed that out. Maybe it will make a difference, likely not. But it was said. Time will tell, time is a blabberwort that way.

Regarding Steve West’s defense of smokers and their rights… Why is the smoker’s lament always “my rights”, “my choice”, me me me.

Let’s think about other people first for a moment. The downside of smoking related health problems are pretty well documented. Health and health care for smoking related illnesses and those caused by second hand smoke. Also, smoking puts people at risk for other health problems, other kinds of cancers for one. It even affects those not born yet. If we could eliminate smoking as a health problem our economy would benefit too. There could be more money available for research or cures for other illnesses which are not self-inflicted. Governments and other organizations could put their resources into more essential things like daycare, eldercare, etc. There could even be more resources to really help people stop smoking rather than trying to convince them it would be a good idea to try.

Then there is the environment. Smoking causes a visible pollution in the air, it deposits a film of grime on surfaces like car windows and walls inside homes. Smokers choose to flick their cigarette butts on our sidewalks, in public parks, at bus stops, outside of shopping malls and restaurants. That’s called littering yet it is overlooked. If each cigarette butt were a pop can, coffee cup, plastic bag, water bottle or pet poop would it be overlooked then? Do smokers even notice butts piled up in places where children tend to pick things up?

Now lets talk about you. Have you looked at your teeth lately? Have you smelt your breath? Unless you use a pretty strong whitening toothpaste (which isn’t helping the durability of your tooth enamel) your teeth are grungy looking. Kissing you is like kissing an ashtray. Sitting next to you in public place is stinky business. I can smell it on your clothes, in your hair. When you sit next to me I come away smelling like smoke too and it bothers me all day, until I get home and shower. It’s not doing your clothes any favours either is it? Do you have that hacking cough in the morning? My smoking relatives do. Sounds awful, like they are struggling to cough their lungs out so they can breathe again. How much fun is that?

Now lets get to me. I am a non-smoker. I have asthma. I have a physical reaction to your smoking. It makes it hard for me to breathe. I’m not just asking for you to put out your cancer stick because I don’t like it. I don’t like not being able to breathe the air. It’s a habit I’ve grown into. Much like your own habit except I started a lot younger and really do think I should have the right, the freedom and the choice to continue doing so.

I forgot to add about the extra cleansers needed to clean up smoking grime, how those are all extra detergents and chemicals being added to our water, our ecosystem.

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