Tuesday, 09 February, 1999


As a group, cigarette smokers must be the filthiest and most inconsiderate people in today's society. Something about lighting up must turn normally clean and pleasant people into dirty, smelly, obnoxious semi-human trolls.

A tad harsh? Not in my experience. How else would you describe somebody whose clothes stink, whose breath would knock a buzzard off a meat wagon, whose hair smells like burnt vegetation, and who insists that it's his right to foul the air you breathe with his carcinogenic fumes.

Nearly every day on my way to or from work, I see at least one cigarette butt fly out the window of a car in front of me. Lit, no less, as I can plainly determine in the early morning or late evening hours. Last summer we had several fires on the Texas highways that were most likely caused by discarded cigarette butts. What's a few thousand acres of grassland or forest when compared to a drug addiction?

And their cars? Ugh! A smoker's car smells like a bedroom with a wet smoldering mattress. Ashes are everywhere and there are burn holes in the upholstery. If you turn on the air conditioning or vent in the hopes of getting some fresh air, you're instead treated to the malodorous fumes being blasted into your face by the ventilation system. Not to mention the ashes that cover every surface get stirred up and then come to rest on your clothes. Not that your clothes would be good for much other than burning: five minutes in a well-smoked car will render any clothing unfit for habitation.

Of course, if I don't like the stench or filth in a smoker's car, I don't have to enter it. And I don't. But I do have to suffer the low-hanging cloud of cigarette smoke on my way through the smoking area outside my office building. It's bad enough that I have to hold my breath to avoid inhaling the smoke as I go to work each day. The smoke dissipates. But the blanket of discarded cigarette butts that covers the sidewalk and the landscaping around the ash can just grows. It's gotten so bad that management posted a sign requesting that smokers not throw their butts into the grass or onto the sidewalk but instead use the supplied ash can.

Is it coincidence that the gutters at stop lights are literally overflowing with cigarette butts and empty cigarette wrappers, but I couldn't find a gum wrapper to save my life? What is it that makes smokers think it's okay to discard their trash on the street while waiting for the light to change?

And then there's quitting. "Yeah, I should quit." "I'm going to quit Real Soon Now." "I quit last week but then this big project came up at work." "I was doing okay until I got into a fight with my girlfriend." That's crap. If you want to quit, you'll quit. Otherwise stop making your stupid transparent excuses. I've been there. I've made the excuses. I know they're all a bunch of bull 'cause I've used every one of 'em.

And don't tell me that you enjoy smoking. Sure, periodically--especially after a good spicy meal--a puff or two really gets the juices flowing. But those moments are few and far between. In the meantime there's that bottom-of-the-birdcage taste and the 30-second morning hacking fit (you mean you're coughing for longer than that?). Not to mention a cost that's more than what you spend on gas for your car. You don't like to smoke. You're just too damned lazy to put forth the effort required to change your habits and wean yourself from the addiction.

Perhaps "dirty, smelly, obnoxious semi-human trolls" is not too harsh?