Monday, June 06, 2005

Open Letter to Quitters, Inc., Whoever They Are

This is a Monday rant. You have been warned.

I have a confession to make. I’ve been smoking since I was 19, although not heavily. In my wildest days, it took me three days to go through a pack. It takes me anywhere from one to six months now. I also had to switch brands and start buying those sissy “light” cigarettes, because, all of a sudden, the regulars started tasting like crap to me.

So, Goldie, if it takes you several months to smoke one pack, why don’t you just quit? – you ask. Here’s why.

Because, each time I see one of those annoying anti-smoking commercials, it makes me want to light up.

Yep, that’s my rant. I have had it with the anti-smoking campaign, people! I think the whole thing is blown way out of proportion, which makes it sound like a load of bull, and leads the young, impressionable children to lose their trust in the anti-nicotine propaganda altogether. Case in point: I12.

When I12 was in second grade, he was in a DARE program at school and got the usual lecture (cigarettes are a gateway drug, smoking will cause you to die a painful death, etc etc.) He was very impressed, and made a poster that he had me scotch-tape to the passenger side of my car. It said: “DO NOT SMOKE, FROM: (I12’s name)”. I honestly tried to obey the poster, but I couldn’t back then. I would’ve probably done it easily now, but, four years ago, I12 was just too early with his request.

Then one day, in fourth grade, I12 took the poster down. Why are you doing it, I asked.

“First of all, it doesn’t work. You’re doing it anyway. But mainly, it’s because they lied to us about the smoking. Look at you. You smoke. They said you would die from it. But you’re alive and in good health. When I am 18, I’m gonna smoke too”.

He still intends to do it. No matter how many times I told him that the stuff is addictive, that it tastes bad, that I am cutting down drastically and about to quit any minute now, his decision still stands. He thinks that the school has lied to him; and, therefore, he will take up smoking. Luckily, he still has six years to change his mind.

Like I12, I also am confused. Why do we need to lie to people when the truth is actually bad enough? Why can’t we tell them that smoking is dangerous for your health – as is drinking, eating junk food, leading a sedentary lifestyle, or driving 25 miles over the speed limit? Maybe we should add that, while all these things are likely to cause you mild damage if you do them in moderation, they are indeed likely to kill you if you overindulge in any given one. Add to this that smoking makes your breath stink and your teeth turn yellow, and, bingo! You got yourself a completely honest anti-smoking campaign. See, you got your message across without telling your audience that one drag will make them die a horrible death of lung cancer. It can be done! And, now that you have it all set… can you maybe ease up on it a little? You know, not beat people over their heads with it? Like, go easy on the “Heaven is a non-smoking area” bumper stickers and the annoying TV ads? Because, in a lot of people, like myself and my son, they produce the opposite effect, and you don’t want that, do you?

I’m not alone in thinking this way. I’ve got Matt and Trey on my side, and those two guys, as you know, are my heroes, so they’ve got to have a valid point.

And now, time to give credits for my rant. This rant was inspired by Sarah’s comment on

My parent's generation spearheaded the civil rights movement. My generation is very serious about quitting smoking, and we'll tell you so in obnoxious commercial spots. I think there's a difference in ego; ours being the lesser, for better and for worse.

Disclaimer: I have nothing personal against Sarah. I just couldn’t walk past that without commenting.

To me, if a generation is serious about quitting smoking, they just, you know, quit. Quietly, one person at a time. The “obnoxious commercial spots”, to me, signify that this generation is serious about making other people quit. To me, this is in no way similar to the civil rights movement… more like the opposite, since it involves telling people what they are and are not allowed to do on their property during their spare time, even if it’s perfectly legal.

I mean, wow. Way to get me scared of the Millennium generation. Now, each time I see a 20-something, I’m going to duck for cover. What if he’s with the Anti-Smoking police, and is coming to get me?

This is my message for the day. Enjoy your week. I’m off to… no, you guessed it wrong, not a smoking break. I’m off to a brown-bag lunch meeting, which in all actuality is a lot more hazardous to your health than smoking is. Seriously.

The Goldie has spoken at 12:00 PM

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