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Smoking Kills, But So Does Life

A friend of mine on the Mendocino Coast has tried every recreational drug known to druggies, hippies and doctors, and lots of the prescription meds too. 

Drugs she’s sampled include, but are not limited to: marijuana, hashish, cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, oxycontin, Vicodin, vodka, Valium, psilocybin, LSD, morphine, banana peels, ecstasy, methamphetamine, caffeine, Tramadol, and whatever was in her parents’ medicine cabinet when she was growing up.

And her Number One absolute favorite drug of all, and by a wide margin? 


My sister quit smoking about 20 years ago and once told me if she knew the world was going to end next week the first thing she’d do is go buy a carton of cigarettes.

I’ve never smoked but I’ve long been puzzled at the ferocity of the anti-smoking crowd, a group which has expanded over the years from a small bunch of whiners to a vast mob of torch-carrying, pitchfork-waving maniacs.

Why? Why has American society spent a half-century in a crazed frenzy over cigarettes? Our collective condemnation of people who enjoy inhaling dried leafy fumes completely surpasses reason. 

For as long as people and societies have been aware of tobacco they’ve been using it, enthusiastically. And think of America a hundred or more years ago when anybody who accomplished anything was a smoker. I made that part up but it’s probably true.

Most Americans think a snort of anthrax or a gulp of plutonium is safer than a Marlboro. Most Americans would prefer to discover their 13-year old dabbling in Satanism or wrist-cutting than discover a pack of Camel cigarettes under her pillow. 

Why? Oh I know. Really, I do. It’s about health. We’re driving evil tobacco from every corner of our society so we will all be healthy and fit and not die, ever. More or less. (Except for politicians who love the tax revenue Big Tobacco brings in.)

Yeah, smoking is bad for you, but so is eating Big Macs. No one forces burger-eaters to stand in the rain to gobble their greasy glop, but smokers haven’t been allowed indoors the past dozen years regardless of rain, sleet, snow or earthquakes.

Smoking kills, but so do car wrecks and no one advocates warning labels on the dashboards of Cadillacs. Smoking leaves you short of breath but so does a flight of stairs.

Smoking stains your skin, kinda like tattoos I suppose, and eventually kills you but name something that doesn’t. Smoking makes you and your house smell bad, but so does a cat box, Patchouli oil, fried liver and Meadow Fresh Room Deodorizer. 

So it all comes down to health, which means it all comes down to the fact smoking is bad bad bad for you, your children, the ozone and the planet, and that there’s not a single health benefit to be had.

Well now.

Consider this: most people who smoke don’t get cancer (although most people who get cancer smoked). 

And this: Tobacco is an appetite suppressant. Translation: Smoking helps combat obesity, a far greater threat than starvation in the 21st century. How many of us know some tubby who’s constantly telling everyone how much better he feels since he quit smoking? (The rest of us note the additional 30 lbs.)

Clinical studies out of Harvard University show smokers are less likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease, and they believe the same is probably true for Alzheimer’s. (These health benefits disappear when patients quit smoking.)

Smoking inhibits formulation of clots in coronary arteries, diminishing the likelihood of death following heart attacks. People who smoke are at a reduced risk of ever needing knee surgery, and nicotine has long been recognized as an anti-depressant. 

Smoking reduces hypertension by causing a drop in blood pressure; cigarettes can cause high blood pressure to drop by up to 30%

Smokers know that cigarettes have a mysterious ability to either soothe or stimulate, depending upon the desired effect. 

And although it remains medically unproven, everyone also knows smoking is cool. Smokers are cool. 

Smokers are rebels, the youngsters who listen to your gassy sermons about the evils of cigarettes and your silly tirades about Big Tobacco, coronary this, malignant something else, and what they do is roll their eyes, inhale a cubic yard of tobacco fumes and say:

“Cancer when I’m 60 years old? Thanks Gramps, but if I thought I was going to ever get as old as you I’d kill myself right now. 

“And I’m guessing you never parachuted, rode a motorcycle or played rugby either.”

(Congratulations. You are among a teeny tiny minority of people in America who have ever read anything positive about cigarettes in any newspaper. Tom Hine has lived most of his life surrounded by smokers; TWK is his fictional pal who probably smokes Old Golds.)


  1. Donald Cruser November 29, 2022

    Tobacco: The red man’s revenge.

  2. Eric Sunswheat November 30, 2022

    November 15, 2022
    “The way marijuana is inhaled compared to tobacco with longer breath hold [and] higher puff volume may lead to microtrauma to the airspaces causing little holes (emphysema).”

    Dr. S. Thomas Yadegar, a critical care medicine specialist, pulmonologist, and medical director of the ICU at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center, not involved in the study, told MNT:

    “The findings of the research point towards confirming a trend we have observed with younger patients presenting with more breathing difficulties.

    Any inhalation of particulate matter, whether tobacco smoke or marijuana, causes inflammation within the airways.

    However, both [may contain] additives, including flavors, preservatives, and pesticides, [which] can be highly variable between cannabis and tobacco products.”
    [bracket edits added for clarity]

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