(NOTE: I was originally going to post this on Open Salon. That was before I found out, quite by accident, that Open Salon was solid gone, daddy-o.)
I hate cigarettes. Of all the social drugs, tobacco has the least to offer. Let's review the most popular social drugs. Alcohol gets you drunk. Getting drunk irresponsibly can get you into a lot of trouble, but most of the time the worst thing that happens is that the drinker spends an inordinate amount of time worshiping the porcelain idol. Drugs get you high. (Of course unless you live in one of a very few enlightened localities, they can also get you into legal trouble ranging from whopping fines to serious jail time.)
Let's put it another way. With alcohol, it's “Hey, let's open a 12-pack and watch the game!”. With drugs, it's “Let's smoke a bong and put on some tunes!”. With cigarettes it's usually, “Omigod, I've got to have a cigarette, or I'm gonna die!!!!”
Tobacco is the only social drug which can kill you when used exactly as intended. There was actually a brand of cigarettes sold in England called “Death”.
I hate so-called “secondhand” smoke. Before New York State banned smoking in bars and clubs, going to see live music was an exercise in asphixiation. Now, a little smoke doesn't bother me that much. But it's a whole different situation when it's the middle of winter, you're in an enclosed space, and nearly everyone in the room lights up at once. Two hundred people all lighting up at once in a 30 by 50-foot room isn't a smoke-filled room, it's a gas chamber. After taking in a two-hour show my lungs would feel like they'd been sandpapered. My clothes, from my overcoat to my underwear, reeked of nicotine.
Thanks to bans on smoking in public places, I can now take in a concert without having to worry about my blood oxygen levels. Yes, I know, smokers' rights, blah blah yada yada. Well, what about my rights? In most other cases, your drug use has no effect upon me. Your drinking doesn't affect me unless you throw up on me, or do something really stupid like driving drunk. It makes no difference to me if you indulge in a few pot brownies in private, or take some “ecstasy” at the club. But when you light up in a public place, I'm smoking your smokes along with you whether I like it or not. And I most certainly don't like it.
Let's be real about this habit; it is a habit and not the pursuit of pleasure. I'll never fault anyone for pursuing pleasure in these incredibly repressive times. But cigarette smoking is not pleasure. Smokers are paying dues to the tobacco conglomerates not because they like it, but because they're hooked. Even junkies get a better deal than cigarette smokers. At least they get to nod out. Smokers, on the other hand, get to hack, wheeze, and feel like they're about to die if they can't scrape together the extortionate cost of another pack.
(Creative Commons 2015, The Fuddler. Non-comm, attrib, no derivs)