When I get out of work on Saturday night I kick back a few beers at the pizza place next door. I have friends there, and once they close we decide to head out to some bars and have a good time. At the bar I meet a girl who is cute enough for all intents and purposes, and who seems more and more interesting with every Stella Artois. She seems to find me funny. I find her tolerable. It is probably going to be a good evening.
I finish up my beer and ask her if she wold like to step outside with me for a cigarette. She pulls back and says, “You know cigarettes cause cancer, right?”
Yes, I know cigarettes cause cancer!
No, I don’t care!
Did this girl really think she was blowing my mind? Did she imagine she was going to tell me that, and I was going to swear off the devil’s sticks forever? Of course not. Its 2009 and everyone knows that cigarettes cause cancer.
But why is it permissible to vilify my vice? I didn’t tell her that her tan was giving her cancer, that her vodka was destroying her liver, or that her make up probably got a baby seal killed. I bit my tongue, because that’s what people do with other people’s bad habits–unless its smoking.
For some reason it is socially acceptable to berate someone for smoking, but not for any other bad habit. If someone tells me that my cigarette causes cancer they are not seen as a jerk, but if I were to tell them that their Burger King quadstack was going to make their heart explode that would be wrong. It’s really not fair.
So, if you are a non-smoker, please hold your tongue. There is nothing you can say to a smoker that they don’t know. I know that they are killing me. I know that I smell like an ashtray. I know that its bad for the skin and teeth. I also know that they are enjoyable, they are relaxing, and I am not quitting.