Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A to Z: Cigarettes

Cigarettes must be one of the most significant pieces of evidence that our species is stark raving mad.

I did say that the theme for my A-Z might stray from topics with a remote attachment to gaming from time to time, and that the theme, while focused on what influenced or inspired me, might also switch to the other side of my perceptions: that which distress me or make me want to slap the world for the great fool it is.

And this will be one such time.

For those of you who smoke, I do want to assure you that I will not be trying to convince you not to,
nor do I advocate laws and government restrictions to take away your right to do something stupid.
You are perfectly safe from such coddling.  No, it is not my place and I would not presume to do so.
I'm merely indulging my similar right in my own space to partake in one of my own habits: a rant.

Back to cigarettes:
A deadly addiction that infects billions of people, perhaps spawned as karmic retribution on the rest of the world by those native to the American continents for killing their people and stealing their land.

"All those dead and enslaved? Water under the bridge. 
Here's an interesting plant, take it back across the seas with you. Snort and smoke it up. 
No problem at all, you're welcome." 

I am constantly amazed at the number of human beings who chose to do this.  Granted many people do foolish, risky & reckless things, but usually there is a chance of success or reasonable assurance of some gain or benefit.

The chance of robbing a bank and getting away with it might not be the safest bet in the world, but it is hard to argue with the logic that it does contain the possibility of a beneficial outcome: you get wads of cash.  Many people drink alcohol, and while it too contains risks to health and the chance in some to become addicted to it, there is an undeniable result of an enjoyable benefit: being drunk can be quite fun.  The same is true for marijuana. That is something that one can smoke, that arguably has less health hazards, no significant physical addictive qualities, and has an effect on a person which most enjoy.  No moral judgement on these risk/rewards being placed either way, just an abstract look at the logic behind them. There are countless slightly risky things that do have an exchange for pleasure.  But not cigarettes.

Before you bring out the old 'not true, I enjoy smoking' or worse yet, the well written but nonsensical arguments from the likes of Richard Klein, I dismiss those arguments and scowl at the notion.  It is not true. 
Perhaps for those who first begin smoking they have a trade off for a minor pleasure: that bit of dizziness that comes from nicotine. But the tolerance is quickly built up, as fast as the gripping physical addiction and the smoker is no longer in a relationship of exchanging ill for benefit, but one of accepting more ill for trying to bring themselves back to normalcy.  

That dizziness could also be obtained by going out to your backyard, or for those more exhibitionist in nature, their frontyard or local park, hold their arms outstretched and spin around as fast as they can.  Unless you were raised in isolation, locked in a closet by insane parents, chances are you have done this as a child already! It creates dizziness: every person's first drug. The nice thing about spinning to become dizzy is that there is zero tolerance built up. It's true!  Every drag of a spin is like your very first one.
And it's not addictive and contains no hazards to health provided it isn't done in a busy street.  Amazing!
Even a kid knows dizziness is better, cheaper and more fun than cigarettes.

Getting back to risk & reward, in the comparison with robbing banks, it'd be as if once having robbed a bank, you now owe $100,000 a day and must rob a bank each day to pay that debt to remain at a balance point. Hardly a good deal.  The addict of tobacco can not function until this addictive debt is paid and receives no more reward than a simple 'ok, you can calm down now, your torture is over for the moment."  

Yet every day people willingly decide to do this.  Why?  Stupidity.
It's the only thing I can think of that adequately answers it.  It can't be ignorance.  Unlike our ancestors of previous centuries and decades we no longer have doctors recommending it to aid digestion and other quack notions.  No, as a society, we know better, but many do it anyway and with no possible chance for any reward or benefit whatsoever. That does look a bit like stupid to me, sorry to say.

Where does this come from?  I suspect it is because our society knows better.  The human animal has, and even more so at a certain age, a strong desire to rebel and claim individuality.  What better way to stake one's claim as an individual than to do the same stupid thing that billions of others do?  I can't think of any. 

Apparently neither can most.  Parents say it is stupid, governments say its stupid, medical professionals say you're going to kill yourself, and so the logical by human standards thing to do must be to do it anyway.
Perhaps if all these well meaning people just shut up less would do it.

So I won't say don't do it. I don't care if you do it.  What is it to me?  As long as you're not doing it around me, what do I care?  I am 100% behind everyone's right to do anything they wish or want no matter how self destructive, provided it doesn't negatively impact others who are not making that same choice.
If a person wants to gouge their eyes out and replace them with rock salt, it is really none of my affair. 

But I also stand behind the right to point a finger and say "You know you're fraking stupid right?"
Because on the off chance you don't, it's only kind to let you know so you can make an informed decision.
Then go about your business with my full support for you to act upon your rights, just as I support your right to juggle loaded sawed-off shotguns in the privacy of your own home out of range of stray living beings.
Power to the People.

Here's a fun picture I saw in a convenience store in Turkey that made me laugh:

If America wasn't so insufferably puritanical it might make a good public service campaign here too.
But again, with human nature the way it is you'd only get people angrily saying "if I want a limp willy then it's my right and who's the government to say otherwise?"  

And I'd agree with them.  
You shouldn't need the government to tell you that: you should be able to do it your own self.

If you smoke and you're insulted, then I am sorry you feel this way.  Some of my dearest loved ones have smoked cigarettes, so consider yourself in good company. It isn't my intention to insult you, merely to poke fun at your ridiculous habit.
A fine line perhaps, but one I am comfortable with.

And still, I wonder.  If all the cultivated land that is put to producing this pointless product was instead used to grow food, how many starving people would be fed?  If all the medical treatment spent on patching up the problems caused by this was freed up, what benefit could be done for people who didn't self-inflict their medical problem?  But I don't think our species is collectively smart enough for this. 

I may take some heat for this, though I'm confident it's not really merited. The only good argument for someone smoking is that they have the right to do it if they want to, which I agree with.
And I have the right to say their choice is stupid.
You can't argue with that logic.

So smart, even cavemen do it. Wait, that doesn't sound right... well, Enjoy!

This has been an A-Z Challenge post. 
For the month of April there will be an update for each letter within the theme of: Things that influence and inspire me, or the converse: things which I find distressing or make me want to rail at the world.
Some of these will pertain to the miniatures hobby, but many will venture off to atypical territory for the duration of the challenge, then it will be back to normal with mostly minis and an occasional blithering.
You can find out more about the A-Z challenge my clicking the logo at the top left of the page. 


Mr. Lee said...

Great argument, great article, and love the picture from Turkey.. have seen many like it, but not as intelligently put as that one.. Am taking notes on how you do this A-Z thing, as I followed it last year, and would like to do it myself next. Keep them coming :)

Anne said...

Those pictures are great. Just based on the one picture you have up there I might guess that Viagra and the tobacco companies have a shared interest. Conspiracy Theory (it starts with the letter C).

I do like that Flintstones ad for Winston, Fred and Barney look much sexier while they're smoking. Facetious (Starts with the letter F, I'm getting ahead of you!!).

Laffe said...

One more sad thing is that at the beginning of the 20th century women didn't smoke. It was seen as un-womanly. Smoking then became a symbol of feminism, of the liberation of women, claiming a habit that was strictly for men.

However, the photographs that launched the notion of smoking being a symbol of feminism, were paid for by the tobacco lobby.

We truly are too stupid for our own good.

Tael said...

Great piece. I don't smoke myself, not a great fan of those who do either. Largely because the etiquette of smoking in company has been completely ignore by a majority of modern smokers.

That said, the smell of fresh tobacco and properly rolled cigarettes or pipes always takes me back to South Africa and chats with my Grandfather on the patio at the farm holding.

I wrote a brief memoir on it a few months back
Short Non-Ficiton

styx said...

Great stuff. I smoked when I was young (under age) when i thought it was cool. By college I was a cig snob and only smoking clove cigs, later I ditched the habbit as got too expensive.

I would rather drink good quality beer and wine...at least there is some rumored health benefits there in moderation.

Love the pics!

Paul of the Man Cave said...

Nice one Centurion - Like it!

Bill said...

Good argument. Well written. Thank You.

Alfrik said...

But how will the millions of suffering CA patients get their medicianal MJ into their systems if they can't smoke it!!!!!!! Oh, right pill form,..... But they can't have an average blend, they need 30 or 40 varieties to choose from ! uh huh....

On a different topic, lost both my parents to the effects of smoking. An avoidable death sentence if ever there was one. Lungs have a hard enough time with dust in the air let alone any other particulate matter people force down them.....


Laughing Ferret said...

Mr.Lee: That sign was in Kusadasi, we stopped there for a couple days as we made a big circle through 2/3 of Turkey. The A-Z is a fun challenge, I recommend giving it a go.

Anne: don't get me started on pharmaceutical conspiracy ;) Yes, great commercial.. can see the ad team discussing it now "...plus, it's funny because it's demeaning to women: it's win-win"

Leffe: Yes, welcome to equality women, you're now equal to be targeted for planned addiction so we can harvest your money. And in a capitalist model that believes that a company must *grow* or it is failing, once that market of women is tapped you need new markets, so on to children!

Laughing Ferret said...

Tael: My dad used to smoke a pipe and I liked the smell, it made me think of him in the garage with his woodworking tools. But he wised up and quit. Cigarettes aren't something I ever thought smelled good though. Thanks for the link, I'll check that out. As for etiquette, long ago I lived with a girlfriend who's mother smoked, and when she'd come over to visit she thought she could smoke in the apartment (which I didn't allow her to, earning me a spot on her shitlist), since she helped her daughter with money. She would also smoke in her daughter's car, even though she didn't want her to. From that era of "smokers' rights trump non-smokers" rights... just stupid.

Styx: thanks! I had fun finding the pictures :) Expense wasn't something I dealt with here, but could have- just was getting of epic length already. What a colossal waste of money it is. And when paying for no benefit and only harm, it really is mind-numbing.

Laughing Ferret said...

Paul: thanks mate :)

Bill: Glad you liked it. Reminds me, while I would never presume to think someone has the right to tell someone they must quit, or to pass laws making it illegal (not to mention do we really want another unenforceable law to give power to the criminal supply this would create?) I am very in favor of helping people quit with support and encouragement. Very impressed with people who struggle with overcoming one of the worst addictions known to man! They deserve the support and understanding of those of us who never got tricked into becoming addicted.

Alfrik: Can sympathize: my grandmother died because of smoking, and she was my mother in fact until age 7, and so emotionally from then on too. I guess people have the right to smoke if they want to, but that doesn't change the fact that the companies and the people within them that make it all possible are straight up evil.

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