I see an older man many mornings on my trip to work. He is usually coming out of a store, very slowly. He does not appear to be very steady on his feet.
But as soon as he can, he grabs a cigarette and lights up. That, ladies and gentlemen, is addiction.
And I certainly understand it. I smoked myself for a few years. I then quit for nearly 15 years, and then started again and quit a few times before it stuck for good.
Cigarettes are very difficult to give up.
But, let’s face it, in 2019 it just makes no sense to smoke. Not that it ever did, but we have known about how deadly cigarettes are for decades now. And in 2019, it is not nearly as socially acceptable as it once was to smoke. In fact, smoking can make you a bit of a pariah.
To be honest, it really should. Smoking is deadly. According to the World Health Organization, tobacco kills up to half of its users, and kills more than 8 million people each year. More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use, while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
So, smoking is certainly not cool. It is trying to kill you.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved smoking. Smoking after a good meal was great and I will probably always miss that. Smoking while having a beer? Also excellent. Smoking was a very social thing to do.
But the coughing? Not cool. The wheezing walking up steps? Not healthy. The stink of smelling like cigarettes? Not attractive at all.
Thankfully, fewer people are smoking these days. I am sure much of that has to do with the fact that people now clearly understand the dire health risks of smoking. Also, adding taxes to cigarettes to drive up the price has the effect of making people quit.
Illinois recently increased the age to buy tobacco products to 21, and I say that is a good thing. Of course, people who are younger than that who want to smoke will find a way. And we see more and more young people vaping these days, even though the science on vaping is not looking good – for vaping, that is.
When I was a teen, there was still some something cool about smoking. It had the rebel image. And everyone smoked back then. My parents would have dinner parties and the smoke would be so thick we almost had to crawl on the floor to make our way through the house.
But that was long, long ago. Now, almost none of the people I know smoke regularly.
Look, people who choose to smoke are not bad people. I understand that. But society is clearly saying, “please, don’t smoke.” You can’t smoke in bars or restaurants anymore. Or planes. Or trains. Or in a car with your kid. Some states have very strict smoking laws even outside in public.
It is about the public health, which I fully support.
The good news is there are more things available now to help you quit than ever. Gum, medications, support groups – they can all help.
It might be too late for that older man I see nearly every day, but it isn’t too late for everyone. Maybe even you.