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About Your Smoking: A Delicate Issue

I know, a lot of people smoke. Bizarrely, a lot of radicals, who are usually aware of their impact on the planet and each other more than most people, also smoke. (People who would cut off their arm before lifting a coke bottle yet nevertheless think nothing of lifting a Camel.) I also know that nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on the planet, and it makes people nuts to think anyone might interfere with their next fix. (I've seen it happen.) But...do you have a moment?
I've been reluctant to even bring this up, because it's such a touchy issue. I mean, people take their smoking habits seriously. And I never like to tell anyone else what to do if I can avoid it. But, smokers, it's time to talk.

I can't even tell you how many situations I've been in where someone was smoking near me, and I was afraid to say anything because I did not want to offend them. On one occasion, I was with my little boy, and two radical friends came over and sat next to us, and began to smoke. My child doesn't like the smoke any more than I do, and asked them not to. Both looked at him as if he had said something ridiculous, and one blew a great smoke ring in his direction. Neither stopped or made an effort to move where the smoke wasn't blowing at us. I could not believe I was worried about not offending people who would be that unbelievably rude. I know, many people who smoke aren't so rude, and I'm thankful for that. But I never would have imagined such behavior from these people either. It's just, as I said, people act weird when you threaten to interfere with the fix.

So I know a lot of people will flame back at me for saying this. But do you know how much your cigarette habits impact the rest of us? The stink of a cigarette goes a lot farther than you think it does. Many of us get physicially sick when we smell a burning cig, even when it's a block away. Pregnant women are especially effected by second hand smoke -- I used to be constantly ill when people smoked around me when I was pregnant. And even now, it makes me ill. The smell of your cigarette gets in my clothes, in my hair, and in my furniture, and I can't get it out. I no longer allow anyone to smoke in my house, but I still come home with clothes stinking of other people's cigarettes, even when I was nowhere near them. It makes my eyes water. It makes my throat hurt. It makes my stomach upset. More than that, your smoke is actually killing people.

There is no longer even any debate. Study after study has shown that second hand smoke kills people. It's as clear as global warming: The corporations who profit from the poison would like to obscure that fact, but it's still a fact. So I don't want you to smoke around me or my family any more. And I'm going to start getting more assertive about that. Please, if you must light up, look around first. Are you alone, or in the company of only other smokers? If so, do what you wish. But if there are people who are not smoking around, please go somewhere else, far away -- farther than you think necessary. Second hand smoke travels a long way. I know, this sounds really bossy to anyone who smokes, but it's what the rest of us are all thinking: "Please, my lungs are important to me even if yours are not important to you."

Lots of smokers have ready responses to this request, about their "right to smoke." But really, that's bullshit. They have been duped by cigarette companies, who spent millions to churn out inflammatory propaganda aimed at smokers, counseling them to demand their "right to smoke." This way, the pushers can get their junkies to do their dirty work for them. But in fact, you have no right to poison others. You just don't. Might sound harsh, but there it is. Smoking hurts peoples' lungs, their hearts, their skin, raises blood pressure, and causes cancer. You don't have the right to do that to others any more than Union Carbide should have the right to do it.

Then there's the pollution aspect of smoking. Why do people imagine a cigarette butt is somehow not garbage? Why do people think it's anything but outrageously rude to just throw them down and stomp on them, and then leave them there? Walk down any street in Portland, and there they are. Butt after butt after butt. If you don't see any, it's because the clean and safe people just went by and scooped them up for you. But why should they have to? Do you know what those filters do to the environment? They take millennia to break down. In the meantime, they can clog the intestines of creatures who accidentally eat them, and they fill up landfills, and they leak toxins. And they're gross.

Oh, and fire. More fires are caused by cigarettes than any other cause. Forests are burned down due to smoking, and people smoking in beds burn down apartment buildings. It's dangerous and unwise to wander around tossing burning matter here and there without thinking about it.

Finally, it's always worth examining our consumption habits for their wider impact. I know some smokers grow and roll their own cigarettes, and that's very cool. But anyone who is still feeding dollars to multinational corporations that willingly kill people for money should really examine the connection between their habit and the killer capitalists. Are you aware that cigarette corporations knowingly tampered with the nicotine content of their "product" for the sole purpose of addicting people to it? It's a fact. Do you know that they knowingly tampered with laboratory studies to make the results seem equivocal about whether or not smoking was dangerous, even when they knew it was killing people? Another fact. Do you know how much money cigarette corporations have put into lobbying congress to support their agendas and their profits? Do you know they intentionally market their product to children, in order to hook them on cigarettes when they're too young to make good decisions about their health and well being? Or that they are now aggressively pedaling their product in third world nations, still marketing to children, still manipulating nicotine content, still lying about their dangers, because they can get away with it there? How about the history of oppression of poor and working class people, share croppers and slaves, on tobacco plantations? Yes, there is a lot to think about in every cigarette.

Again, I know it seems rude for me to be trying to tell others what to do with their own lives. But this is precisely the point: If it was only impacting you, I would not be saying this. If you want to poison your body, stink like an ashtray, and give your money to assholes, that is your business. But when your actions impact the well being of others, including me, then I do have the right to say something about it, and so I am. Just as you can probably understand why I might ask people not to go fight in Bush's war, not to torture animals, or not to drive SUVs because they're bad for the planet, perhaps you can understand why I am asking that you please think twice about your cigarette habit. Do you really want to support a bloodthirsty multinational corporation? How is Marlboro any better than Coke? And even if you do want to support them, I do not want to smell your habit. I do not want to come home with your habit in my hair. I do not want to have to breathe through a tube for your habit. Many of us are thinking this, have been thinking this for a long time. I'm just saying it. At last.

Yes, but . . . 27.Jun.2006 15:47

convince me

Of course smoking isn't healthy for individuals or the environment. Yet I have a hard time believing that second-hand smoke IN AN OUTDOOR ENVIRONMENT is a serious problem. So, convince me. This is an issue I am dealing with in a variety of contexts.

Lungs at work 27.Jun.2006 16:09

me too

I actually think I may know who wrote this, because we were just talking about this. Unless it's more than just us? Whatever...I feel exactly the same way. People who smoke just have no idea how far that smoke travels, how irritating it is to many of the rest of us, or how much their own reactions to our polite requests to keep it away from us is impacted by their own addictions. No one freaks out quite like a hooked smoker being asked to please keep their smoke out of other people's lungs.

I am very careful about what I put into my mouth, my lungs, and my body. I choose to eat healthy organic food, and to avoid pesticides and additives, for example. I would never tolerate someone force-feeding that shit to me. I also choose not to put toxic chemicals into my lungs. But smokers often feel that their choice to engage in that disgusting and destructive habit outweighs my choice. I'm not dissing on people who smoke ("some of my best friends are nicotine addicts"). It's the habit that's gross, not necessarily the people who are hooked. But please, do consider others around you before you light up, and please realize that second hand smoke is deadly and far reaching. Don't be rude when someone asks you not to smoke around them. They have the right to protect themselves from your habit.

Smoke. Keep it to yourselves please 27.Jun.2006 17:09


Smoking really sucks. Walk down the sidewalk, and the noxious smoke spills out of open doorways, from the outside tables of cafes, from cars passing by on streets and roads. It ruins the joy of fresh air.

That's just the sad truth of it, but I sort of counter the distress I feel being exposed to it, by imagining what these people who smoke would be doing if they weren't smoking. Without their smoke, they probably be making people's lives more miserable in worse ways. Killing each other, or you.

It's amazing to be walking down a road, whether its one with a lot of traffic with car exhaust, or a quiet one with lots of fresh air. There's even a little fresh air to breath, even amidst the car exhaust until a smoker drives by and blows a hit out the window, or just has their cigarette in hand hanging out to keep from fouling the inside of the car.

Nice outdoor seating areas at cafes and coffeeshops are often left in disgusting condition by smokers who've burned the table surfaces, and allowed their ashes to blow all over the place.

Are the people, mentioned by the writer, who were so rude to her and her child really radicals? Sounds more like they're just hipster jerks. Some really wound up people are radicals who smoke, but most, with any sense of reality whatsoever, would probably thoughtfully put out the cigs.

I've heard the lame argument that people who drive shouldn't complain about those who smoke, but though I've seen people riding to work on many different forms of transportation, I've never seen anybody riding to work on a cigarette.

Smokers have many negative impacts on the world. The above are just examples of
a few.

Smokers could do the world a big favor if they'd just do their smoking in a confined room, where the air leaving the room was filtered or purified, like the air leaving a catalytic conveter attached to an internal combustion engine powered car.

I Need My Lungs 27.Jun.2006 17:11

I like fresh air

I agree that as a non-smoker, I just can't understand the smoker mentality. I just wish they wouldn't stand in doorways and smoke, or sit in the outdoor seating area at a coffee shop or resturaunt and not think about their secondhand smoke.
I hate regulations, but maybe smoking should be limited to a person's home or yard.

Used to be one 27.Jun.2006 18:48

Ms Aligned

I smoked for 26 years, probably became addicted as a kid because of all my parents' secondhand smoke. Have been quit of it for 14 years now. I understand why people smoke-it's terribly physically addictive but it also relieves anxiety, something to do when you get nervous. Truth be told I haven't found anything else that works as well.
Maybe like all other addictions we should find out why something in our lives sucks so bad that we want to alter our reality in some way. Maybe it's the oppressive system we live under.
Most young folks seem to be pretty polite about their smoking but I really wonder about devoted vegetarians/vegans who smoke and also drink that nasty PBR.

US Surgeon General: "No safe level of 2ndhand smoke" 27.Jun.2006 19:04


From CNN:

"The science is clear: Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance but a serious health hazard," said US Surgeon General Richard Carmona.

There is no safe level of secondhand smoke -- even a few minutes inhaling someone else's smoke harms nonsmokers, he found. And separate smoking sections, even the best ventilated ones, don't protect enough. Carmona called for completely smoke-free buildings and public places to lessen what he termed "involuntary smoking."

More than 126 million nonsmoking Americans are regularly exposed to someone else's tobacco smoke, and tens of thousands die each year as a result, concludes the 670-page study. It cites "overwhelming scientific evidence" that secondhand smoke causes heart disease, lung cancer and a list of other illnesses.

Carmona implored parents who can't kick the habit to smoke outdoors, never in a house or a car with a child. Opening a window to let the smoke out won't protect them. Read

"Stay away from smokers," he urged everyone else.

The report won't surprise doctors. It isn't a new study but a compilation of the best research on secondhand smoke done since the last surgeon general's report on the topic in 1986, which declared secondhand smoke a cause of lung cancer that kills 3,000 nonsmokers a year.

Since then, scientists have proved that even more illnesses are triggered or worsened by secondhand smoke. Topping that list: More than 35,000 nonsmokers a year die from heart disease caused by secondhand smoke.

Regular exposure to someone else's smoke increases by up to 30 percent the risk of a nonsmoker getting heart disease or lung cancer, Carmona found.

Join Quitnet.com to quit, or learn about the dangers of smoking! 27.Jun.2006 19:51

Styve - Q Hall of Famer (5 years quit)

Be vigilant and tell smokers to be respectful of the health of others! Glad someone pointed out the recent Surgeon General thing on second-hand smoke dangers.

It's a pitiful addiction, that is all! People will quit when they are ready to quit, and knowledge is your friend at that time!!


just 27.Jun.2006 20:44


how many of you drive cars?partake in habits that cause air pollution?shit in water?you failed to mention the horrendous taxes we as smokers pay that contribute to who knows what?smoking aruond kids is gross, but so is driving a car, which is still the most dangerous activity in this culture oh yeah and clear cutting will assure no one has enough oxygen to breathe.

do you ride in a car? public transpo? 27.Jun.2006 23:22


Everyone contributes to pollution, but is it necessary? Some people have to drive... to work... to pick up runaway kids or visit clients in the course of their social service jobs. The car transports them. Cigarettes just serve the purpose of transporting you to a different mood. As one poster said, you don't ride a cigarette to work... or an action. They're a want, a really addictive want... not a need.

That said, i want people to be able to do as they choose as long as it isn't directly hurting someone else. Cigarettes are not the absolute worst evil in this world, not the biggest source of pollution... though some more thought should be given to casting dollar votes for corporations aggressively marketing a noxious product and, as far as i know, still running tubes down animals' throats to "test" harmfulness or lack thereof of tobacco/nicotine.

But, if you're one of those people who believes you're a radical or otherwise cognizant and trying to forge a better, healthier world, please dispense with the look of indignant disbelief when asked to refrain from smoking, delay your smoke or take it further away.

Smokers aren't so risk averse... 28.Jun.2006 00:15

Zola Budd

There may be far too many smokers in the 'movement', however, this is could be due to those 'stupid enough' to take up smoking also being 'stupid enough' to want social change, maybe by joining a 'movement' of sorts. Smokers are alleged to be great networkers - a ciggy on the doorstep has different conversation with it to what those guys still working in the office are having. Once upon a time, cleaners, managers and all in between broke hierachy cadging a light.
Much is made of smoke-culture in movies etc, but in truth there is none. Where is the newsagents magazine 'Smoker's World' (presumably this would be filled with heroic smokers, lighting up, new tips for smoking 'the best way', tobacco-oriented holidays...)?
Each and every smoker is a non smoker just wanting to get out, and rather than another lecture, change in another direction can be considered, i.e. to make the world so fair, beautiful and truthful that nobody would wish to smoke.

capitalism makes me smoke 28.Jun.2006 00:53

no really it's the addictive insecticide nicotine

> rather than another lecture, change in another direction can be considered, i.e.
> to make the world so fair, beautiful and truthful that nobody would wish to smoke.

STOP DENYING THE FACTS... 28.Jun.2006 01:03


seriously, you can't call out other people because they are asking you not to smoke. maybe the person you are attatcking drives a biodiesel car, has a composting toilet, and eats vegan. dont deny your smoking habbits by attacking someone else. quit smoking!

smoking sux 28.Jun.2006 09:14

clean lungs

My great grandparents were sharecroppers on a tobacco plantation in the South, living in virtual slavery to the mammoth tobacco industry. My grandmother and all her siblings worked their fingers to the bone in the fields from the time they could walk. She was hooked on tobacco by the time she was a teenager. She smoked Virginia Slims most of her life, got emphasema, and died of lung cancer. So I have a particular dislike of the tobacco industry.

And I don't understand the mentality of people who smoke corporate cigs, knowing what they are and what they do. It's true that people who smoke can be very insensitive, and even aggressive toward people who ask them to stop polluting the air. It can be intimidating to ask people not to smoke around you, but do it for yourself and everyone else around you. Because we ALL feel that way. I'm no longer shy about telling smokers to keep their smoke, toxins, and burning matter to themselves. I've had it with subsidizing the cigarette industry by being too "polite" to let smokers know that the spillover onto me of their habit is not acceptable.

Non Smokers Cannot Understand Smokers 28.Jun.2006 09:47


I smoked for ten years and quit seven months ago. Quitting was very difficult and it took several attempts over the previous years before I succeeded.

Did you know that the lion's share of cigarettes are consumed by people suffering from depression, bi-polar disorder, or schizophrenia? Many people self medicate with cigarettes and do not realize that this is why they do it. If you run into someone who is smoking, chances are that cigarettes is in the mouth of someone who is dependent upon it to get through the next hour without exploding or falling into an emotional abyss. To expect such a person not to smoke (OUT DOORS) just because you choose to sit close to them is rediculous. Yes, smokers should quit smoking, but they may need a lot of help to do so. Smoking is not the only thing people do that harm others. Pefume gives me migrane head aches, yet no one is trying to get everyone to stop using perfume. People tapping their feet or making repetitive sounds drives me nuts. Should I ban it?

Look, it would be better if everyone just stopped smoking, but its not that simple. Most people only choose to smoke when they begin smoking. After they begin, they no longer choose, they are compelled.

Second-hand hysteria 28.Jun.2006 09:50

Dr. Poo

"Study after study has shown that second hand smoke kills people."

Prolonged, chronic exposure to second-hand smoke, yes. People who work in bars, or bingo halls, or whatever, for many many years, where they are around smokers all of the time, in an enclosed area, will get sick. No doubt.

To claim based on this that you are getting sick from walking past someone smoking, or from smoking on a park bench beside you, is really too ridiculous to be taken seriously. Sorry, studies have shown this is certainly not the case. You are not going to suffer any meaningful health consequences from occaisonal, casual exposure to cigarette smoke.

health impacts not the whole picture 28.Jun.2006 13:36

tried it, thought it was disgusting

"To claim based on this that you are getting sick from walking past someone smoking, or from smoking on a park bench beside you, is really too ridiculous to be taken seriously."

Dr. Poo, health impacts are not the only reason a person would not want a smokestack near them. Just because I'm not going to die on the spot from inhaling second-hand smoke, doesn't mean that it's OK to subject me to it. Smokers have a dulled sense of smell to the smoke residue, so probably don't realize that it doesn't take much to stink up one's clothing & hair, and what makes anyone think I want to walk through that disgusting stuff to get into the front door of my favorite cafe? At the Red & Black, there seems to be a smoker or two crowding the front door just about half the time. Also, the damage is cumulative, so a little here and a little there does have an impact. One can inhale quite a bit of smoke if there are a bunch of smokers at the next outdoor table smoking.

I'd like to make a call here for a little more assertiveness on the part of non-smokers. When I'm crowded into a bus shelter, on a rainy day, with a bunch of other people one of whom is smoking, when I ask the smoker to take it outside I get zero support from the other non-smokers though I can see the appreciation in their eyes. It's obvious all are disgusted with the smoker, but too meek to say anything. Tell smokers that they ought to smoke with more consideration tha to hang out in the doorway of a busy cafe. Some smokers will be polite and try to show consideration, others will need help from a water gun or handy bucket of water. Heh. It's obvious from the responses of some smokers here the little regard for others, and the self-centered focus on defending their habit.

smoking is gross 28.Jun.2006 14:02


Dr. Poo claims that someone smoking near me is not enough to make me sick. Really? Because the surgeon general just issued a report stating the opposite. It says that even a small amount of cigarette smoke is harmful, and that there is no safe level of second hand smoke. Does Dr. poo know something that the surgeon general does not? Or is Dr. Poo just trying to defend his own addictions.

On a more subjective level, smoke anywhere near me, even a "little" wafting down the block at me, is sickening. Whether I am allergic to it, more sensitive than other people, or just more honest about it, I do not know. But even a little is enough to make my eyes feel sticky and my skin feel clammy and my throat hurt. If the smell gets in my hair, I go around feeling like that all day. It's not fair that I, a non-smoker, should have to put up with that. The fact is, even if someone is driving past in a car, their smoke drifting out the window at me is enough to make me sick. And it's foisted on me all day long. Though most people are wising up and giving up this habit, there are still people clustered around doorways all over the city, puffing away. Every time I have to walk down the sidewalk behind someone who is smoking, every time I have to walk past a cluster of slacking smokers on a "smoker's break" outside a doorway, every time someone in a public gathering lights up near me, it literally makes me sick. Sounds like I'm not the only one.

This isn't about "just staying out of bars" or about "choosing to sit close" to a smoker. I do not frequent bars, and I never, ever "choose" to sit near a smoker. Instead, I find cigarette smoke foisted upon me almost everywhere I go. At a baseball game, smokers light up in the stands. They don't have lights on their heads warning people "I WILL LIGHT UP SOON," so I don't know whom to avoid. At the park. smokers come along looking like anyone else, and sit somewhere up wind, and light up. In bus shelters, at meetings, and just walking downt he street, I can't avoid second hand smoke. People in crowds, whether political protests or civic gatherings or fun things like parades or christmas tree lightings, they think they can just light their damn cigarettes and damn anyone who cares. Fuck that. I say, enough.

Someone above reminds us that a lot of people who smoke are "self medicating." That's true. In the case of schizophrenia, anyway. One has only to walk past the Cascadia Mental Health clinic downtown to see that in action. Nicotine has been found to quiet some of the symptoms of schizophrenia, and schizophrenics have been notorious chain smokers for years -- they recognized the one and only known medicinal benefit of nicotine before the medical establishment. So if you have schizophrenia, then I do not begrudge your habit, but I still ask that you keep the smoke away from me. And if you are not a schizophrenic, then there is really no excuse.

damn folks just be respectful 28.Jun.2006 14:06


as a smoker, when i smell smoke, it triggers those neurons to make me want one. not very nice to smoke around people who are trying to quit. point being, just be respectful of other people. it's a gross disgusting habit. it's an addiction for some and some realize it, but haven't suceeded it getting the monkey off the back. dumbess mistake every made was to look at the ads and think that it looked cool and tried one as a fifth grader. now it's twenty years later and i'm likely to have a heart attack or end up with lung cancer. so most who don't smoke, say just give it up. wish it was that easy, but it ain't.

fuck you cig industry for fixing the nicotine levels so that my body craves these stupid things. and fuck you attorney generals for not subsidizing the smoking cessations materials. ever notice, pack of smokes, five bucks roughly. last two days, depending on habit. nicotine gum, weeks worth, 45 bucks. with that logic, it's cheaper to smoke to sustain the addiction. when the attorney generals collected billions for exposing that lies of the tobacco industry, they gave some of the fines and created toll free smoker hotlines. there's a productive use of the fine monies. AG's haven't made gum, or other nicotine substitution products cheaper, they just paid off state debts. politics of smoking is fucked up, regardless, to the smokers, be respectful of the non smokers, you might just be a non smoker someday and realize how much it sucks to smell the smoke.

Like a breath of fresh air. 28.Jun.2006 14:16

Not a fan of tobacco...or general silliness


First, a disclaimer: I did not write the original post. Some of my friends would probably assume that I wrote it. I certainly agree with the general sentiments, but I did not write it.

On to the general silliness of comments such as Dr.Poo and others.

1. "To claim based on this that you are getting sick from walking past someone smoking, or from smoking on a park bench beside you, is really too ridiculous to be taken seriously. Sorry, studies have shown this is certainly not the case."
Ah Dr. Poo, cite me those studies. There are none.
As any of us who actually work with people suffering from lung cancer or asthma know, a single good puff of tobacco smoke can trigger a coughing episode or asthma attack. That's why smoking is not allowed inside of any hospital in the United States (as well as to avoid the risk of fires).
Of course, long-term exposure is what kills people, since the probability of someone getting lung cancer and emphysema rises with every pack of cigarettes. But people die from asthma attacks as well. And, if you'd like to replicate the effects of one of these to see if it falls under the category of 'getting sick', just strangle yourself for five minutes. That was what one patient of mine likened an attack to.

2."Did you know that the lion's share of cigarettes are consumed by people suffering from depression, bi-polar disorder, or schizophrenia? Many people self medicate with cigarettes and do not realize that this is why they do it. If you run into someone who is smoking, chances are that cigarettes is in the mouth of someone who is dependent upon it to get through the next hour without exploding or falling into an emotional abyss. To expect such a person not to smoke (OUT DOORS) just because you choose to sit close to them is rediculous. Yes, smokers should quit smoking, but they may need a lot of help to do so. Smoking is not the only thing people do that harm others. Pefume gives me migrane head aches, yet no one is trying to get everyone to stop using perfume. People tapping their feet or making repetitive sounds drives me nuts. Should I ban it?"

The use of perfume is being banned in hospitals. Again, this is for simple reasons: perfume triggers coughing spasms and asthma attacks.
I think that anyone would have a hard time showing that the majority of cigarettes are being consumed by people suffering from psychiatric disorders. Unless you're going to argue that everyone who is a smoker is addicted, therefore they have a psychiatric disorder.
Certainly nicotine is an addictive stimulant (as well as short-term anti-anxiety med) and certainly the majority of people in the U.S. suffering from schizophrenia are smokers. These are facts that have been established. But tobacco companies don't target based on this. They target certain groups, such as African American teenagers, by promoting certain brands among rappers. And they target hipsters by promoting American Spirit (owned by RJ Reynolds, makers of Camel, etc.).
People who smoke are addicted. Those of us who get them to stop smoking, successfully, understand this. Unfortunately, like alcoholism, it is an addiction that has a ton of social support.

3. "Much is made of smoke-culture in movies etc, but in truth there is none. Where is the newsagents magazine 'Smoker's World' (presumably this would be filled with heroic smokers, lighting up, new tips for smoking 'the best way', tobacco-oriented holidays...)?"

Surely you jest. "Cigar Aficionado" is filled with 'heroic smokers', ranging from the governor of California to General Tommy Franks to John Travolta. Speaking of which, again, there is an entire subsection of the advertising industry devoted to placement of cigarettes in movies. And music videos, dude.

Thanks for the original post. I wish that many of those who are otherwise won over by logic could just read it and stop smoking. Logic alone doesn't cure addictions, unfortunately. I hope they at least stop smoking around children

Let's Get Specific 28.Jun.2006 20:44


O.k., then maybe someone can give me an idea of what is respectful. I understand that I shouldn't smoke in doorways. But if I can't smoke inside and I can't smoke outside, what's the deal? At demonstrations, I move to the back. So I'm at an outside cafe--what should I do? Is there anywhere on the street or sidewalk where I can smoke? I'd be happy to have a well ventilated room indoors, but those are now illegal. If you give me a clear picture of what I should do when in town, how I should be polite, I will attempt to implement it.

I think it's important not to villanize people. I can't help but feel that this is another way to get us to turn against each other. And I can't help but think this is in part a "smoke screen" for air pollution. I mean, think about what you're exposed to everyday, and ask yourself if that is reason enough to despise that cigarette smoker standing on the corner.

how to be considerate 28.Jun.2006 21:43

it's not that difficult

How to smoke considerately? OK, this is not that complicated. Note which way the wind is going. Smoke downwind from others who are not smoking. Are you in a crowd? Move away from the crowd. Are you in a busy path? Get away from it. I don't know why anyone would need their hand held through this process. It seems common sense to judge where the smoke is going, and make sure you are smoking where it won't go towards non-smokers, given that many are allergic / sensitive / any detection of smoke for those who have quit may trigger intense cravings. Yes, it may be inconvenient at times. You are the one with the disgusting habit, it is for you to be inconvenienced and not those around you. Smoking is an adult thing, so be an adult and show responsibility for how you do it. I won't piss in your face, and you don't get your cig smoke all over me, OK?

facism 29.Jun.2006 01:41


as long as there a smokers then nonsmokers will not be happy.

its all about lines, divide and conquer, bicker back and forth.

no one "has" to drive a car, there are always alternatives, be it a bike or public transport, and if you work too far from work, then you should move closer.

no one is innocent of pollution, but to throw stones aint gonna solve the problem.

i guess when people feel powerless to make real change that matters then they attack those that they think they can change.

but to be honest, for all your complaints, the methods you nonsmokers use to try and get smokers to quit usually make them want to smoke more. what ever happend to compassion.

those damn alcoholics, drinking and making messes, i wishthey would stop drinking. it is an evil industry and it makes me sick to see drunks.

those damn herion adicts , why dont they jsut quit,. they support terrorism with their habit and when i see them they make me sick.

those damn coffee drinkers. the smell of brewing coffee makes me sick, and it is so unhealthy to consume, and when i have to deal with some jerk all jacked up on coffe it makes me mad.

those damn meat eaters. smokers, addicts, junkies, homeless, minorities, etcetcetc ad infinitum....

where does it stop...really.

what ever happened to compassion.

to attack all smokers for the actions of a couple of jerks is lame and perpetuates the problems in the norte americano lack of culture.

how to be considerate 29.Jun.2006 01:43


you know "its not that difficult" it is difficult

i have been in many situations where i try to be considerate of my smoke, and well when you are outside, in the wind, the wind tends to shift. especially in a city where the wind whips around buildings in swirls.

no matter what a smoker does to be considerate there are still going to be those who are not satisfied. i know this from many experiances...many

Me too 29.Jun.2006 09:37

Fresh Air

The smell of cigarettes makes me sick. Literally. It's hard not to be encircled in it in a day. Walking down the sidewalk to work in the mornings, I have to pass by all the people who can't smoke in their buildings, so they crowd around outside the doorways, smoking away right along the sidewalk, and I have to walk past them. And the bus shelter thing! Yes! And the smoking in a crowd! Shit, I'll be in a crowd somewhere, and out of nowhere, suddenly the stink of someone's cigarette comes wafting over. I often can't even see who is smoking, but there it is. BLECCCH.

This isn't about "divide and conquer," it's about my lungs. It's about the right to breathe fresh air.

I am happy to see at least one smoker in this conversation who is trying to be respectful, trying to understand how to feed the habit without hurting other people. Thanks, I appreciate that. If you really are trying to keep downwind and away from people with your cigarettes, then thanks. Because a lot of smokers don't do that. A lot of them go off like some of the reactionaries above, acting like we're being "fascists" (to quote one of them), for daring to speak up about our desire to breathe fresh air. Here's news to those people: It's more fascist to force your toxins down other people's throats, than for them to ask you not to.

This is a touchy subject, only because people who smoke are so completely addicted to nicotine (by design of the manufacturers) that they flip out when you tell them not to do it around you, or even when you so much as imply that there is something wrong with it. It's like they can feel how annoying people find their habit, but they can't stop doing it, so they get all defensive and nasty about it.

I just want to comment about one other thing that's going on in this thread. And it's not just here, I see it all too often in any discussion about making any kind of positive changes. It has to do with setting up a distracting irrelevancy, and making any change at all too paralyzing to attempt. In this case, it's the defensive smokers pointing out that people drive cars, or that there is other pollution in the world. Yes, of course. But the corrollary to that is not, "Therefore, blowing smoke in your face is acceptable," nor is it, "Therefore, I need change nothing because you haven't changed absolutely everything."

These are the same people who shlump past anti-fur demonstrators at Schumacher's and say stupid things like, "Why aren't you at a leather shop? They kill animals too," or, "How come you're not at Fred Meyers picketing the meat aisle" or shit like that. Their comments are not about wanting to change everything. Rather they are about trying to deflate any effort to change anything at all. They may or may not even realize that people who care about fur also care about leather and meat, but can only be in one place at once. Similarly, they may know very well that people who care about their lungs also care about pollution from cars, but that does not make second hand smoke a non-issue. This discussion is about second hand smoke. Stop trying to derail it. I mean, if you want to offer a plan to address both second hand smoke and petrol pollution, be my guest. But if you're just offering up defensive distractions with no intention of contributing anything but obstacles, it's not going to work. Your smoke still makes me sick, no matter how many other things in the world may also be yucky. And you still don't have the right to blow smoke in my face, no matter how much you would like to think that you do.

So what's your thesis? 29.Jun.2006 10:36

Dr. Know

So is there a point here? Are you advocating smoking laws for all public places, businesses, etc? Are you suggesting prohibition? Are you just ranting and raving because you went out last night and now have to take your wool suit to the dry cleaners?

Is nicotine one of the most addictive drugs? Absolutely. However, you need to distinguish between addictive properties (pharmaco-kinetics and dynamics) and a drug's behavioral toxicity. Nicotine has a very low behavioral toxicity, whereas alcohol, another legal substance, has an extremely high behavioral toxicity. Hence, alcohol has more laws surrounding its consumption in public places, use while driving a vehicle, etc.

The other point that needs to be suggested (and I'm not making any moral or economic valuations here, just stating the purely financial), is that (at least in terms of how the industry is reflected in govt data) the tobacco industry generates more income than the overall cost to society each year. Now again, I'm not going into the argument about human suffering and the value of a human life, which is a perfectly valid, but much more loaded argument to be taken up. I'm just pointing out that this fact alone has more to do with why the industry has so much lobbying clout in Congress. Unfortunately, the financial benefits are enjoyed by a few states where tobacco is a big agricultural product, and the costs are unfairly shoved on other states (we'll leave exports out of the argument, though another valuable point). Hence the intractable political clout the industry has in tobacco states like North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, etc.

The key to wrenching away that political power is to get enough people to quit that the industry as a whole, at least in the US, operates at a net loss to the economy.

Trying to Quit Anyway, but Going for One Now 29.Jun.2006 12:28


This discussion has turned interesting (as opposed to just flaying each other). I agree that being respectful is not as easy as it seems. Let's just hope that if people see a smoker trying to be respectful, they will try to be respectful in return.

After everything I've heard and read, I have to think that the "law" made a mistake in getting rid of indoor smokers' lounges. You wouldn't have this problem if they still existed. You wouldn't have smokers looking at the outdoors as the place of smoking liberation, lighting up as soon as they step out of a building or hovering at the doors in bad weather.

I'm wondering if tobacco is about to be outlawed anyway. Where I work is about to become an entirely tobacco-free area. It's pretty weird watching it happen. I remember when college professors would start class by lighting a cigarette. Then it was outside the classroom only. Next thing, it's outdoors. Yet we still have problems. People shouldn't smoke indoors with children or animals, yet in close living quarters, like apartments, people have come into conflict about outside smoke coming in through the vents or windows. I'm glad I own my own property. Good luck to the rest of you.

And please, nonsmokers, remember that someone could decide your habit is the next one that is bringing down civilization.

responses to some recent posts 29.Jun.2006 15:22


Has anyone else noticed this typical response to any opposition to a behavior that is obnoxious and inconsiderate, whether it is rude smokers or the extreme minority of Critical Mass riders who show up to harass motorists? They call "fascist" (notice the correct spelling, derp), make claims that people are control freaks or power tripping, they say that nobody should "police" their behavior. Always the message is "I should be able to do whatever I want, regardless of how it affects anyone, and nobody should give me any flak about it."

"as long as there a smokers then nonsmokers will not be happy."
How about "as long as there are smokers blowing smoke in my face...", and again I'll just say since I don't piss in your face why don't you avoid blowing smoke in mine. Sound reasonable?

I don't think any anti-smoke poster here has excused automobile pollution. Are you saying that because there is pollution of any type, all types should be tolerated? That seems preposterous. Anyway, I'd challenge you to compare the pollution from cigs and automobiles. Cigs are more polluting in most ways, and automobile exhaust doesn't stink up my clothes or irritate my lungs as much.

To "blech", it is not difficult to be considerate! If you are far enough away from non-smokers, it does not matter much about the wind conditions, just move away! Sheesh.

"Dr. Know" asks "is there a point here?", revealing an extreme deficit of reading comprehension. The original poster, and many since, have articulated themselves plenty clearly: smokers should exercise more consideration for others who don't want to breathe smoke, some of whom are made ill by even small amounts of inhaled smoke. It would be in smokers' interests anyway to be more considerate: laws forbidding smoking in public places / workplaces (even on the property outside) are becoming nearer to reality as the non-smokers rebel against the inconsiderate behavior, similar to the increased support many motorists give to the idea of required licensing for cyclists as they have more interactions with rude cyclists. In the same way that I take aside cyclists who are unnecessarily hostile to motorists and explain to them that they're definitely hurting all cyclists, I would hope that the more reasonable smokers would similarly caution the rude smokers.

"And please, nonsmokers, remember that someone could decide your habit is the next one that is bringing down civilization." PUH-LEEEEEZZE!! I don't have ANY habits that negatively impact the health of somebody else. Not a single one. If I did, how could I begrudge it being legislated, since I agree with the concept that people should have total freedom as long as they don't do harm to another? I'm not against people having freedom to smoke if they want to kill themselves, but I am opposed to people inflicting their habits upon me.

As I write this, the thread is already at 29 responses and a lot of it is repetitive... hopefully readers will go over the original post and responses a little more thoroughly and with more thought before adding any more or at least post something unique to the discussion.

Two things 29.Jun.2006 16:35

Don't blow smoke

Dr. Know (I'm tempted to add "it all," but I won't) says:

"However, you need to distinguish between addictive properties (pharmaco-kinetics and dynamics) and a drug's behavioral toxicity. Nicotine has a very low behavioral toxicity, whereas alcohol, another legal substance, has an extremely high behavioral toxicity. Hence, alcohol has more laws surrounding its consumption in public places, use while driving a vehicle, etc."

S/he seems to be implying that laws regulating the use of tobacco are unnecessary because the drug has little or no "behavioral toxicity." Hmmm. In the first place, jargonics aside, I'm not sure I agree with you. Nor do most of the people who posted here. Blowing smoke in the face of someone who is adversely effected by it is, in fact, behaviorally toxic. But on another note, the regulation of drugs -- including alcohol -- seems to have little to do with "behavioral toxicity" and everything to do with politics. Your example proves the point: Alcohol. Few substances are more behaviorally toxic than that, yet alcohol is legal and acceptable in many public places. Marijuana, on the other hand, does not seem to be toxic, behaviorally or otherwise, yet it is illegal. Go figure. Seriously, when is the last time someone climbed in a car and wiped out after smoking a joint? When is the last time someone got violent and beat someone up after eating a magic brownie? No, our laws generally have much more to do with politics than with common sense, so that's why cigarettes are still legal and for no other reason.

One more thing. The people who keep making irrelevant comments about driving cars might want to re-read the original article. Nowhere does it state that pollution from cars is good. To the contrary, it explicitly mentions that driving SUVs is bad for the environment.

PUH-LEEEEZE!! Take a look at yourself 29.Jun.2006 17:35


I think the point about the cars is that we all do things that pollute and are bad for the health of others. Driving a car is just one of those. Because there is no "purity" in this society, we need to be a little tolerant of individual choices. Otherwise, we could peck each other to death.

To quote Dr. Know:
PUH-LEEEEEZZE!! I don't have ANY habits that negatively impact the health of somebody else. Not a single one. If I did, how could I begrudge it being legislated, since I agree with the concept that people should have total freedom as long as they don't do harm to another?

It's all a matter of how you look at it. Eating meat is a serious problem. First, it seriously injures the animal. In my value system, that is much more inconsiderate that burning a cigarette outdoors. However, even if you don't care about the animal, participating in factory farming wreaks horrors on the planet. This is just one example. And I'll bet you have a lot of other habits that are harmful to others.

I don't mean for these examples to be red herrings. In part, I think smoking is a red herring for the other issues. However, because no one can afford to be too righteous, I suggest that we try to hang together. If you don't like smoking, support your friends' attempts to quit, and I'll support your attempt to clean up your act.

more trying to justify rudeness 30.Jun.2006 01:13


The person who posted above is so confused, they used the wrong username in their response (I wrote as "explainifier" not "Dr. Know" with the "PUH-LEEEEZE!!" comment).

Hello? I don't drive a car! You also presume that I eat meat, and if I did I certainly would not use factory farmed meat. Apparently, you'll just reach for anything that lets you justify your own behavior.

The only thing you need to realize is that if you keep blowing smoke in my face, I'm gonna pluck that cancer-stick outta your mouth and put it out in your eye.

ex;plainer 30.Jun.2006 08:04


you're the kind of person who makes me want to keep smoking. In fact, I started again when tbe anti-smoking rhetoric became so ridiculously oppressive.

Quit Now! 30.Jun.2006 10:45


So, "anti-smoking rhetoric" is oppressive, but the far-reaching influence of tobacco corporations is not? Come on, people, NOT smoking is REVOLUTIONARY.
Cigarette smoke is a massive contributer to global warming.
Tobacco contains chemicals designed specifically to kill things (yes, even those American Spirits).
Tobacco and smoke contain radioactive elements!<a href=" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_tobacco_smoking">Wikipedia article</a>
WHY would any thinking person willingly contribute money to evil--yes, evil!--tobacco corporations? I just don't get it. Here ya go---take my hard-earned money, give me these poison-laden things that will make me and everyone around me sick, rape the land, influence congress, oppress the poor...I just don't get it! There is NO excuse for smoking! I don't care how stressed out you are, or how eco-friendly you are the rest of the time!
P.S. I don't drive or eat meat or shop indiscriminately. Just so you know.

Behavioral Toxicity 01.Jul.2006 21:38

Dr. Know, Psychologist

The point about "behavioral toxicity" is one that the science of psychology has debated and accepted into academia over decades. Behavioral toxicity, in its most black and white exemplification, says that a significant number of case studies or statistical data suggest that somebody who takes PCP may jump off the Fremont Bridge thinking they can fly. Alcohol is high in behavioral toxicity, because alcohol consumption is one of the most studied drugs (due to lack of prohibition and special requirements for administration in controlled studies), and alcohol is highly correlated with violent crime, aggressive criminal behavior, etc. In this respect, there is no shortage of data to quantify the behavioral toxicity of ETOH (drinking alcohol).

By contrast, nicotine consumption does not make people think they can fly off bridges, have hallucinations of demonic possession, and other forms of (and I use this term colloquially, because it is antiquated as a scientific psychological terminology) psycopathy. The chronic nicotine user can still operate a truck, perform his job, etc, without risk of becoming violent or having seriously maladapted judgement. Hence the distinction of behavioral toxicity.

I came from San Francisco and do support, in general, prohibition of nicotine consumption in public places. However, somebody blowing smoke in your face is much less likely an example of somebody suffering from the behavioral toxicity of nicotine as it is a social gesture for wanting to fuck you. If progressives who eschew the attacks on science and evolutionary theory that the Right constantly funds as part of its propaganda schemes want to cling to scientific evidence to support public policy, they should do the same with the field of psychology dedicated to psychoactive substances, rather than reject a large body of scientific evidence just because it doesn't agree with their personal agendae.