Saturday, June 25, 2005

Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette

There was no one on earth who, back in the '40's and '50's, looked cooler smoking a cigarette than Humphrey Bogart. No one. If we were to ask every American who started smoking during that twenty-year period, to list three or four of the influences that made tham start, Humphrey Bogart would be on most of the lists--even though it was probably smoking that killed him.

I started smoking in 1959. I knew then that smoking was an unhealthy habit. So did everyone else. I quit in 1969. I started again in 1971. I quit again in 1980. I started for the last time in 1987, and quit again in 1991. Occasionally, I think about starting again, but I won't. I'm getting too old to abuse the body like I used to.

I liked smoking. I still like watching someone enjoying a cigarette. When I was in the Navy, aboard an aircraft carrier, some of my most enjoyable moments were a few minutes out on the gun deck, breathing the salt air, smoking a cigarette and watching the ship cut through the water. If it was dark, I'd go out on the fantail and watch the moon reflect off the waves or the phosphorescent glow in the screw wash.

I've always loved to drive. Between motorcycles and cars, I always manage to find a high degree of satisfaction cruising along a desert highway, alone at night. Smoking was part of it. I even installed a can holder on my bike to have a place to put the butts.

So. Here I am, possibly the only man in America who doesn't smoke, who doesn't mind if others do. Oh, I might get annoyed if there's poor ventilation and there's too much cigarette smoke, and pipe and cigar smoke can get really heavy, but I figure that's my problem (unless it's my property).

I opposed the laws against smoking in restaurants and pubs from the start. If the proprietor wants to let his patrons smoke, that's his business. If he can't ventilate the place well enough to suit me, I'll find another establishment.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

A few years ago, well after I quit for the final time, I was sent by my employer to Fort Worth for a training session. It was in the winter and, though there was no snow, but it was cold! A few of us were headed for a downtown restaurant for lunch when I noted the little group of really cold-looking people huddled in front of an office building. They were smoking.

The anti-smoking nazis are really out to punish those who still smoke.

What really gets me is those anti-smoking radio and TV spots. Now, it's commendable that those who'd like to see youngsters not get into the cigarette habit employ persuasion--telling them the reasons why smoking isn't good for you. I'm all for that.

What I don't like, is when they lie. Like when they say that second-hand smoke is even more dangerous than actually smoking. A lie. Maybe if you're in a closed room with a bunch of smokers, but no, they'd still be smoking and inhaling the second hand smoke. It's just a lie to make non-smokers hate smokers.

What's just as annoying, are those TV grossout spots showing the nastiest aspects of smoking. Hey, you don't have to tell me, I've already quit. A long time ago. I don't need to have my viewing of an LA Kings game interupted by images of filled ashtrays and people with various gross-looking illnesses that may or may not have been caused by cigarettes (remember, they lie).

My solution is thus: If the money spent on antismoking propaganda were spent on research to cure the cancers related to smoking, then we could all smoke and be happy about it. Or not.

Your choice.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California


The Wine Commonsewer said...

According to Benchley's bio of Bogie the cancer was wrapped around his spine like a snake. Doesn't sound like smoking did that.

Col. Hogan said...

Bogie's Imdb bio (very brief) just gave his cause of death as throat cancer. I thought that it _might_ mean that smoking caused his death.

The anti-smoking nazis'll tell you that if a smoker dies in a plane crash, his death was smoking-related.

TWC said...

Apparently the spinal cancer surgery was brutal and he never really regained his strength after that. I suppose that in his weakened condition the other cancer(s) thrived. He may have succumbed to throat cancer but the main cancer that debilitated him a couple of years before his death wasn't anything necessarily associated with smoking.

TWC said...

Do you think I can find that bio? Heck no, this place is a disaster. Maybe the cancer was wrapped around his esophagus (sp) like a snake (and not his spine). Ah, hell. :-)