What's so bad about smoking, anyway?

Ed De La Garza

What's so bad about smoking? I really don't understand the anti-smoking movement and lawsuits brought against tobacco companies.

I'm a smoker. I choose to smoke. I know it's going to kill me, but I still do it. When I get sick (and yes, I know it will happen unless I quit immediately), who will I blame?

Will it be Philip Morris or R.J. Reynolds I blame for forcing a cigarette in my mouth? Do I blame the retailer who sold me the damn things without explaining the dangers of smoking? I certainly can't blame myself. I'm just the addict who keeps Tobacco Road in business.

The warning label only says smoking may result in fetal injury, premature birth, and low birth weight. That's not very definitive, and I'm not a pregnant woman nor will I ever be. If only there were some studies showing the harmful effects of smoking ...

I could understand the anti-smoking hoopla if there were an equal movement against drinking. Where's Mothers Against Smoking Drivers? If you drive when you're soused, you probably wind up killing yourself and others. If you drive after you've smoked (tobacco), you probably end up getting home alive. I've never had, say, five or six cigarettes and felt unable to drive. I've never had a friend take my keys because I'd had one smoke too many.

Sen. Ted Kennedy (speaking of drinking) led the fight to raise the tax on cigarettes to help pay the nation's health bills. It's part of the budget. The government needs smokers to keep killing themselves. Why in the hell do they want us to quit? Where's the money going to come from then? I'm thinking Sen. Kennedy would be heavily taxed if alcohol were the next target.

It's not like I can help myself from smoking. I see the huge, mesmerizing billboards. I want to go to Newport and experience pleasure like the yuppies do. I want to be Kool. I'd like to take a trip down to flavor country and ride with the cancer, uh, Marlboro man. I want to play sax like Joe Camel. I want to visit GiGi's Cabaret. Umm, no ... wait a minute, wrong billboard.

I know smoking's going to kill me, and I don't care. Do I have a death wish? No. Am I stupid? Hell, yeah! For every cigarette I smoke, I take 12 minutes off the end of my life. I've done the math, and, so far, it comes out to around minus two months. Damn.

I was raised by my godmother, who was 41 when I was born. She took care of her parents and a sister 12 years her senior. I know about old age. The older they got, the less their children and grandchildren visited. I helped take care of them, and I know how much her sister suffered after four strokes. She was bedridden for months before she passed away, a year ago this week.

I don't want to die tomorrow, but if all I have left to look forward to is the third of each month and trying to remember when I could do things for myself, I don't want any part of it. I hope I die before I get old.

Don't give me that quality of life crap. Every time I wake up, I could end the day in the morgue. Besides, nobody's making it past the year 2000.

I'd like to leave you with something unrelated. For the thousands of loyal crossword puzzle-solvers out there who were wondering why the Cougar Comics, except the syndicated ick., all had the same characters in them, we three cartoonists had a crossover week. I want to know what you thought of the storyline. Did it work or did it not work? Should we do it again next semester? Do you even care? I'm sure the newsroom will be flooded with responses.

De La Garza is a junior political science major who's losing another 12 minutes right now.

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