Smoking is cool. Maybe you don't agree, and that's fine -- but let's just take a look at the matter at hand, here.

1) Smoking gives the smoker additional time to formulate his or her sentences. A smoker, when their mind briefly fails, does not need to hem and haw, or engage in excessive "umm"ing. Instead, they merely have to take a slow drag on their cigarette, exhaling that lovely pale blue smoke before continuing the conversation, their resources replenished by their brief period of contemplation.

2) Smoking also gives any conversationalist the equivalent of a laser pointer. A cigarette can be used to enhance gesticulations, point to examples or direct an orchestra on the fly.

3) Smoking, due to the sheer amount of lobbying against it, is counter-societal. When you're young, is there anything cooler than saying, "Fuck the man!" by slowly killing yourself? Well, maybe there is. Still, we should take a quick look to Hollywood, and one of their more attractive heroes: The guy who may as well already be dead and therefore doesn't care about the consequences of his actions and is able to move with perfect freedom for the remainder of what will likely be a tragically short life. This character is the compelling lead in countless action movies, as well as being used to more dramatic effect on occasion. This guy, or girl, smokes more often than not, or at least has some sort of lethal habit -- drinking and drugs are common. The inclination towards self-destruction is powerful material.

4) Smoking allows even the laziest of people to apply some sort of style to their lives: everybody smokes differently, and the cultivation of personal technique occurs throughout all of the years for which they smoke. Some people have eerily hypnotic ways of both inhaling and exhaling, as well as actually holding the cigarette.

5) Ultimately, smoking sends the message -- whether subliminal or conscious -- that the smoker is aware of and unafraid of mortality, which is a powerful attraction for people in an age in which neuroses ride free upon the shoulders of nearly everybody that you meet, most of which stem from the unavoidability of death. This isn't valid, of course, as most smokers, particularly young ones, aren't truly aware that what they're doing will kill them. This does not stop the image from being projected, however.

6) Forbidden fruit: From the Garden of Eden to the present day, rebels all the way. Most people who pick such fruit are cool. Why? Because it takes a cool person to thwart authority. Take a look at Prometheus.

This is just my theory on why smoking is so widely considered to be cool that organisations spend money in an attempt to de-program this perception. How else to explain all of the PSAs with the same theme: Cool kid talks about how cool he is and is cool while lame kids talk about how cool they are but are lame. The cool kid doesn't smoke and the lame kids do. This is such a basic attempt at propoganda that it doesn't have to be addressed in detail.

Yes, I am a smoker.
All right, I may as well bite. In my defence, I'd like to stress that I'm genuinely somewhat hurt by accusations of trolling on the smoking issue. I've lost several relatives over the years to smoking-related illnesses, and while I think smokers should certainly have their say, I'm dismayed at the unpopularity generated by the opposite view.

My rebuttal:

1) A pause is a pause is a pause. It's just as irritating, if you're interested in what's being said, for the sentence to be interrupted by a drag on a gasper as by 'umm', 'like' or 'well'. More so, if, like me, you're asthmatic, and get a faceful of smoke as a consequence.

2) All right, so this point is valid. I use old ball-point pens for the same purpose. We do find it useful to have something to wave, and if a cigarette is handy, it'll do.

3) I'm not alone in not believing in the lure of self-destructive behaviour. In someone who is for some other reason doomed, the tendency to partake of a fine cigar or whatever is fairly harmless. But to suggest that smoking as a means of self-destruction in and of itself is cool-looking is to my mind too self-justifying to satisfy as an explanation. Not everyone looks up to the artificial heroes of Hollywood.

4) I'd prefer, as most people would, to find a form of self-expression which doesn't rot my lungs. Write poetry. Write software. Do something productive instead of something destructive - even if you restrict it to being self-destructive.

5) I'd say rather that smoking sends the message (in general) that the smoker is arrogant enough to consider themself immune to the things that kill others. A healthy instinct for self-preservation seems far more intelligent. After all, we dream of immortality, but cannot achieve it: why compromise your lifespan even more?

6) Defying authority does not thwart it. And in this case, the authorities have your best interests at heart. If they wanted your taxes, they'd promote smoking for all they could, so as to rake in more duty. In fact, people coughing up corroded flesh from their lungs looks bad on a country's health record, so there is an ulterior motive. But don't you wish the state was usually this concerned for your well-being?

And, of course, there is the final, inevitable fact. Smoking kills large numbers of people all the time, mostly slowly and painfully. I know. I've watched it happen. And no matter how often people say 'don't talk to me about the health implications', I want my friends and fellow-humans to live long, happy, fulfilled lives, and dying of lung cancer can very easily preclude that.

People often say 'If God is so good, why doesn't he stop this or that kind of bad thing happening?' Well, I'm not God, and nor are you, but the suffering of lung cancer, heart disease and a range of other conditions can be reduced or avoided by the (relatively) simple expedient of giving up the cancer sticks. You might say I'm interfering: would you rather I encouraged you to harm yourself?

Ahh, smoking arguments They’re as bad as religious arguments. Nothing I say here is going to change anyone’s mind, but here, for the record are my views, posted so that the smokers among you realise how non-smokers perceive you.

And I know all you smokers have heard it all before. Doesn't make it any less true.

Most of this is basic personal hygiene stuff. The fundamental point of this piece is that smokers smell. Their houses smell, their clothes smell, their breath smells. Everything about them smells like an old ashtray. That is not cool.

You may have guessed that I don’t smoke. Outside of E2, I can’t say that any of my friends is a smoker. In social situations--parties, in a restaurant, over dinner-- nobody smokes, at least no-one I regularly associate with. I might go for months without ever smelling cigarette smoke. So when someone does light up, it is very noticeable. Quite simply, it stinks.

Yes, I am older than most members of E2. When I was younger, a trip to the pub involved cigarettes. A lot of them. It was no big deal at the time. I never smoked, but smoking and other peoples’ cigarettes were part of my life. Like a tramp whose nose has become accustomed to the smell of stale urine, I never noticed.

It was when the children came along that things changed. Like alcohol, smoking during the early weeks of pregnancy is a known risk to the unborn child. Even if a woman thinks that the cigarettes she smokes while single are adding to her cool factor, the reality of pregnancy often changes her attitude. More accurately, I should say, it focusses the mind and destroys all the self-delusion that many smokers experience.

Partners want to be supportive, and they, too stop smoking. At least, all the men in my circle did when the women became pregnant. Besides, who wants to force a newborn to ingest nicotine, carcinogens and all the other nasties that come with second-hand cigarette smoke?

The same was true of drink. Many women gave up alcohol during pregnancy; many continue to drink very little alcohol as their children grow up.

But we need to get back to smoking. I see that there is a predilection for food on this site. I see many people here who love their food. Smoking kills all taste--at least for those of us who do not regularly abuse our palates with hot tar and ash. I'm told that smokers can appreciate subtle flavours after a cigarette. I find it hard to believe, but the fact remains that your cigarette smoke kills any such sensitivity in your non-smoking neighours. They cannot taste a fine wine; cannot appreciate the aroma of wild mushrooms when their olfactory organs are assaulted by your wretched smoke.

I was in a restaurant the other day. It was a special treat to mark some important occasion. The chef is renowned in his profession and has earned a number of Michelin stars. The diners at the adjacent table lit their cigarettes and instantly, all the pleasure of my meal changed to distress. I could no longer smell the bouquet of the wine; it was completely masked by the overwhelming odor of the cigarette smoke. I could no longer taste the food: the smell of the smoke overwhelmed the subtle flavours of asparagus and butter. In the end I was denied the pleasure I had long anticipated because some selfish smoker chose to light her cigarette, and blow the smoke away from her colleagues and across my table.

One table among 20 or 30, spoiling everyone's enjoyment.

/rant

Tiefling argues his point well from a health point of view. My own attitude is that smoking seems to dull the senses, both epicurean and social.

Talk to airline hostesses; talk to servers in bars and restaurants; talk to anyone who has to work regularly in a smoke-filled environment. Smokers stink; many appear unaware of how revolting their habit is to non-smokers. They appear unaffected by how their selfish habits make their neighbors’ lives less fulfilling, destroying their health and increasing their dry-cleaning bills.

Smoking is so not cool.

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