At my place of employment – Yes I am an armchair journalist but until it starts to pay big bucks I’m stuck in an office – there is an entrance that is incessantly clogged with individuals with their finely rolled cylinders of tobacco stuck to their faces like straws wedged into soda cups. Their puckered lips suck those cancer sticks with a forlorn enthusiasm as if they are predestined to committing this self-condemning break time habit with no ability to break free.
They punish themselves, but also those who prefer not to breathe in a cumulus cloud of carcinogens. I have tried various things to express my annoyance – the ubiquitous eye-roll, the wave-at-the-air gesture to disperse the smoke puff, the fake cough.
Smokers evidently cannot read
Today though, was the topper. At the entrance to the building, there are no less than five signs that instruct smokers to stay the heck away. Two signs indicate smokers are to remain at least 25 feet away from the doors; two others declare it a “tobacco-free zone” and advise individuals not to smoke (or litter – which seems to be conjointly linked to this diseased habit). Their inability to read the signs coincides nicely with their inability to heed the package warnings.
It’s raining today, and therefore the chain smoker gang is huddled directly under the overhang, bottlenecking the door like club bouncers, but with the look of a Walmart greeter. I can always pick out a smoker – the prematurely aged faces and the Michael Clarke Duncan voice, the younger career gal in the pencil skirt who hurriedly inhales and plumes herself in a foul-smelling medley of black coffee and malodorous perfume, the lone male smoker who stares at the ground while his fingers tremble to hold his blight.
So one woman, standing near the door and directly under the no smoking sign, cigarette in hand, was on the receiving end of my unbridled frustration.
Why should the non-smokers be the ones to silently put up with this societal affliction? “Excuse me,” I said. “Is there a reason why you are smoking directly under the sign that tells you not to?” She evidently misread the signage to read: “Please Smoke Right Here.”
Taken aback at being confronted so directly, she paused, and then gestured to the outside. “It’s raining,” she offered. Yes, it was, but I informed her that “my lungs don’t care that it’s raining.” She begrudgingly moved out into the wetness.
Do stats mean anything to you?
If you are a smoker, perhaps you are trying to quit, or want to quit. Good for you. Perhaps you won’t be among the half of all cigarette smokers who die of a tobacco-related disease. Perhaps you won’t lose an average of a decade and a half off your life after inhaling nearly 4,000 chemical compounds ten times a day..
Maybe you don’t care about yourself, but how about others? According to the American Cancer Society, second-hand smoke is more toxic than mainstream smoke and contains at least 70 cancer causing chemicals. When I see a parent smoking around their tiny kids, I very much want to unfurl a length of 400 psi fire hose, hook it up to the closest hydrant, and unleash a soaking stream at their noggin. And those e-cigs are no better folks.
Maybe you don’t care about yourself, or others, but how about the #Environment? According to no-smoke.org, it’s estimated that 1.7 billion pounds of butts, from 4.5 trillion cigarettes, wind up as toxic trash each year. And contrary to belief, those filters are NOT biodegradable.
Don’t care about yourself, others or the environment? Then come work where I work. You’ll fit right in with the other smokers.