Smoking – A Deadly Habit That Connects

Planet Yabadada Blog Post On Smoking

Smoking seriously harms you and others around you

Smokers die younger

Smoking clogs arteries and causes heart attacks and strokes

Smoking causes fatal lung cancer

Smoking can cause a slow and painful death

Smoking may reduce the blood flow and cause impotence

Smoking causes ageing of your skin

Smoking kills

Smoking is made for the silver screen. It’s also made for profound conversations, for extra breaks at work, for solitary moments outside a non-smoking party, for keeping you busy while waiting for a friend, and, most certainly, for private contemplations.

The threatening notes about smoking above come from the warning labels that every smoker is exposed to each time they pick up their pack of cigarettes or tobacco. The great they force this negative programming on smokers to concentrate on the harmful effects on health and nothing more. Most smokers know pretty well what they’re getting themselves into. But, more importantly, they do also know the positive side of smoking that keeps them doing what they do.

It may certainly sound naïve, but there is a positive side of smoking. And that’s why smoking is deadly – it’s much too hard to give up all it symbolizes and entails on cultural, social, and personal perspectives.

Contrary to what a lot of people may assume, the beginning of my smoking career wasn’t enforced by the almighty peer pressure. I had my first cigarette home alone, borrowing one from my Mum’s pack of Wall Street, always laying around in the kitchen. My Mum started smoking when she was 15. I, on the other hand, was only 12. That game-changing day I put on HIM on my CD player, lied down on the floor in the one and only room of our studio apartment, lit up the cig, inhaled, felt the first tobacco smoke penetrating my lungs and mouth only to dance around in the air above me. I was pleasantly surprised it didn’t make me cough or feel sick or anything of that gruesome sort. It tasted good. It felt right.

I didn’t smoke all that much in my first year. Although my expanding social circle of outcasts and alternative youth did eventually influence the progression of my tobacco intake. It’s truly baffling how easy it used to be to get cigarettes those days – the early 2000s. I did look much older than I was when I was a teenager and checking the ID was not a common thing to do just yet. And even if there was any trouble of acquiring the cigarettes, there were always enough of older friends around to help out with that or, in the most desperate times, especially those of delinquent binge drinking nights at the very city centre, you could always ask bewildered passers-by to lend you one, and another one for your friend. Shame was not a part of my emotional vocabulary just yet. Especially after a few drinks of cheap plastic-bottled beer accompanied by the weirdest combination of white bread and mayo as a snack. I’m surprised I managed to stay relatively fit with this regular weekend diet.

Similarly to prison life, cigarettes proved to be a sort of symbol of a higher status among peers. A full pack would make you more popular in the circle of drinking buddies than that guy with a guitar. The music eventually becomes a background as everyone gets busy chatting and fooling around. The cigarettes, on the other hand, is constantly on the minds of the young nicotine addicts.

Smoking rock stars – Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl (2/3 of Nirvana).
Image source: Rolling Stone

Obviously, my keen interest in starting smoking was not only genetically predisposed, as both of my biological parents were pretty heavy smokers. My new little secret habit was highly inspired by the rock musicians I admired so much and the mysterious visual appeal of watching actors playing around with their smokes on-screen. Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and The City), Jack Dawson (Titanic, 1997), Spike (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) were just the tip of the iceberg. It seemed that any character in any given TV show or film that was presented as cool, independent, rebellious, and/or creative had a smoking habit. And those, curiously enough, were the ones I could relate to the most.

It used to seem, back in the day, that every on-screen writer was always busy with their craft simultaneously sucking on a lit cig. This image engrained a thought in my head that one can only focus and think and create while smoking. But in reality – thank goodness! – having a cigarette smudging from between your teeth while keeping your fingers busy scribbling on your notebook or both hands on the keyboard is highly distracting. Fortunately enough, when you reach the state of a creative flow, you forget about smoking, just like you forget about your lunch, and your dinner, and even breakfast, if you’re lucky. And yes, you have no problems with postponing a visit to the loo until it’s almost too late.

As years went by, this habit became less and less of a solitary experience. I had my little moments with just me and my cigarette, looking serious and important in public, camera-worthy in private. But when there’s another lit cigarette flying around in the air, it’s an event.

Do you remember that silly (aren’t they all) episode on Friends – simply titled “The One Where Rachel Smokes,” where the character started smoking only to not be shut off from the game-changing discussions and decisions made at her Ralph Lauren office on her coworkers’ smoking breaks on the terrace? If you think it’s funny, you haven’t experienced that. Just kidding, the episode is hilarious. But seriously, these things happen.

Being a member of a smokers’ club can be more valuable socially than your cool haircut and more valuable professionally than your actual hard work. Everybody wants to know your personality, if, of course, you have one. And smoking offers that moment of stillness where, if you choose to talk, you talk real, the way you are. Because you’re doing something bad together. You don’t think it’s bad, but they do. Us against them. But no, just good talks, just really good talks.

I’m not preaching smoking. If you haven’t started yet, you shouldn’t. But if you started early in your life, then you know how it goes.

I’ve quit smoking many times. Some breaks lasted for months, some – for years.

I know I will quit again. And then again, and again, and again.

Perhaps there will be a time when for one reason or another I’ll have the strength, the willpower, and true unshakeable motivation to quit for life. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

I’m not that naïve.

But at least I’m honest.

Do I blame any person or any film or any rock star for making me a nicotine addict? No, hell no – it’s my own responsibility. But it is only curious – so damn curious! – how this whole thing works… Don’t you think?

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Featured Image: Audra Bajori (yes, it’s me at 15).
Photo credit: Shizmos

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