If you read much of this site you may pick up on the fact that I am not pro-smoking (he understated). I was born in 1961, and in 1964 my mother quit smoking because I would not sit with her or let her hold me if she had a cigarette going. My father smoked for many more years, and finally quit by going through a program that consisted of making the rounds of a lung cancer hospice with the attending physicians, and attending the autopsies of the folks who died while you were there. He told me about a particular emaciated living skeleton of a man who sucked smoke through his tracheotomy tube. My dad attended his autopsy and said the man’s lungs looked like a couple of deflated black balloons stuffed with marbles. Too late though, as my dad died young from cancer anyway.
All my life, through my late teens, I was surrounded by people who smoked. My entire extended family had about 70% smokers, and family gatherings were a fog-shrouded stank-fest. Slowly but surely my relatives either quit or died, until now there are no smokers left. Also, starting in my teens I started refusing to socialize with people who smoked, due to the combination of the noxious fumes and the gut-wrenching pity I felt when I realized they were powerlessly trapped by their addiction and wished to quit, but could not. When I was a child, television commercials told me to smoke, and touted the various positive benefits of the different brands. Doctors and stars (like John Wayne) shilled for the tobacco companies.
Everything I Needed To Know About Smoking I Learned BEFORE Kindergarten
But even as a three year old I knew that tobacco was a disgusting and unhealthy habit, and must admit that to this day I think that *anybody* who tried to rationalize their smoking by saying they “didn’t know how bad it was” is full of baloney, as the human body tells you everything you need to know from puff one. But through a combination of mercenary marketing and peer pressure, successive generations each had a non-trivial percentage of its members enticed into the darkness of smoking. And, in the interest of full disclosure, if I am brutally honest with myself (and you), I find smoking to be a character flaw, not only then but particularly now.
Fortunately, I think we can all look around and see that it’s all over for smoking in America, except for the shouting. The places where it is acceptable to smoke in public are quickly shrinking, and we are now down to the last stand. Smokers have been forced into a strategic retreat until now the only places they can smoke are outdoors, in bars and clubs, and in the few remaining restaurant smoking sections. But that is not enough. Smoking is a scourge, a plague, and 50 years from now our descendents will scarcely believe our stupidity.
Even the tobacco companies know that it’s over, at least in the US,