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Thursday, February 17, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 97

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Good smokers go to heaven faster?

Brandon H. Franks

When I was about 10 or so, my grandfather died because his lungs collapsed. He chewed tobacco. My dad has been smoking since I've been born, which never helped my asthma.

I always said that I'd never be like that because it was just a filthy habit. So what do I do now that I'm 24? You guessed it: I smoke. I've done so since I was 18.

It was that whole peer pressure thing in high school. It was all around me, and finally I gave in. But in truth, that's not what this column is about; it's mainly about denial.

I'm a Christian. I have no problem saying that to anyone, and I will even go one step farther and tell you I'm a Baptist -- and a strong one at that. I used to be Episcopal and didn't care about anything, especially smoking. But ever since I got married and had a kid, I've felt dirty for smoking.

I'm sure many smokers can agree that they feel a certain low point when someone walks by and gives them a fake cough or an evil eye. I know it doesn't make me smell like a forest after a spring rain. I know it's bad for my health, and I know it's bad for those around me.

If I know it's so bad, why do I keep smoking? It certainly isn't because I want to. I just can't quit. I've tried it all -- nicotine gum, the patch, even quitting cold turkey -- but to no avail.

I've tried to hide it from my wife, not to mention my friends. I've also lied to her when she asked about it, even though she has told me she is willing to help.

As outgoing a person as I am, I feel ashamed and embarrassed when I light up, always wondering when I'm going to be caught. Yet I still smoke, even now that packs go for $3 or more.

What's worse is that I smoke menthol cigarettes. I feel like I'm a failure because I can't kick this habit. The place I feel the lowest is church, but recently my preacher said something that helped me cope a little better with my problem.

He said that someone had asked him whether good smokers would go to heaven. He told them yes, but they would get there a lot faster than everyone else.

I don't feel as bad now that I've heard this, but I still feel that Christians and non-Christians alike will judge me and think I'm a hypocrite.

Well, now that I've admitted it, I feel somewhat relieved having gotten that off my chest. All I ask is that if you know me, don't judge me. I'm not a bad parent, I don't smoke around my family or at my house -- and if anyone has any words of advice or encouragement, please let me know.

Franks, a junior communication major, 
can be reached at bhfranks@hotmail.com.

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