Let me preface this by saying that I may be a little bias on this issue. I have been a smoker for roughly seven years now. I've tried to quit somewhere between eight and ten times, but it never works. Menthols are just too damn tasty, and my willpower is a bit weak sometimes. But, I have also been known to partake in a bit of booze from time to time. So this isn't a post about how I hate alcohol and people that drink it, or anything like that. Also, I did next to no research for this, so don't expect to see stats and "facts." So, why is smoking demonized in our society, while alcohol is glamorized?
Ok, so pretty much everyone knows that smoking is horrible for you. Lung cancer, throat cancer, probably ulcers, I'm sure you can get tumors and AIDS from smoking. Second hand smoke can, apparently, kill your babies, neighbors, co-workers, and friends. If you decide to smoke, you're pretty much saying you hate civilization and God. There is probably a good reason why we don't see tobacco ads in papers or on TV anymore. Probably because of all the people that "die" due to smoking. Well, not necessarily. My mother works at the local county health center, and she deals with death certificates. Apparently, when a person dies, if they have any history at all of smoking, then that is to be the cause of death. If a 97 year old woman dies, and she also happened to smoke, then smoking killed her. It surely wasn't the fact that she was 97 years old. Nope. Smoking clearly killed her. If someone dies, weighed 520 pounds, and smoked? Cigarettes, not the morbid obesity. A 33 year old man walking across the street, smoking a cigarette, hit by a semi? Smoking distracted him, and killed him with a semi. What I'm saying is that maybe, just maybe, those tobacco death stats are bullshit. Sure, smoking kills lots of people, but most likely not as many as we've been lead to believe.
I also don't really believe that second hand smoke is as murderous as they say. When I was a little dude, I had some horrible asthma. Regular breathing treatments at home and the hospital kind of bad. My mother smoked around me. You would think that if my lungs were already messed up with asthma, the second hand smoke would have surely killed me. Well, 20+ years later, I have become a smoker with very little problems with my lungs, besides whatever damage smoking has done to them, but that's neither here nor there. So, if you ask me, I think second hand smoke might have...improved my lungs? Maybe I had little sissy girl lungs at first, and once they got a shot of smokey-poison, they grew a pair of hairy nuts, and kicked asthma the hell out. I'm sure I'm wrong, but I do not care. Hell, my girlfriend hates smoke. When she goes over to my moms with me, where there is smoke flying around all over the place, she only really complains about the smell that latches on to her clothes, and that it bugs her eyes. She isn't bent over in pain, her lungs on fire due to the hellish second hand smoke. Nope, she's just irritated that she has to wear different clothes when she goes there. However, I'm sure second hand smoke is bad for sissy non-smokers. Just like dairy is bad for my sissy lactose-intolerant stomach. I don't demand that people make their food a certain way so I don't poop my brains out later. I eat/drink it, read a magazine in the bathroom, and go about my day.
Ok, now to booze. It has been declared by the medical community that drinking a glass of red wine every day is good for you. I can believe that. Quick question: How many people know someone, anyone at all, that drinks just one glass of red wine a day? Or have heard of someone that does? Even in the movies? I know all kinds of people that drink a few beers a day/night, or like to just booze it up until they can't remember anything anymore. I know someone that had to go to AA when he was in high school. I have an uncle who has somehow not died from years and years and years of rampant beer drinking every day. But anyone that just drinks one glass of wine? Nope. It is possible that I just don't know any "classy" people. With that I say "Fuck you, we have class falling out of our ass." And as far as the advertisements go, we are told to drink responsibly. Thinking about all the alcohol related traffic accidents, it doesn't really appear as though that message sinks in sometimes. You could always assign a designated driver, but that's just no fun. Being the DD for a group of friends sucks because, dammit, I want to drink, too.
I have heard some people say that they prefer the company of someone who is drinking rather than a smoker. Ok, let me toss a situation at you. You're sitting at home by yourself. It's nice and peaceful, you just cleaned everything up, it's the best your place has looked in years. You settle in to watch some high-quality sci-fi, when there's a knock at your door. You answer it, and there before you is someone who is so very clearly drunk (slurred speech, stumbling around, open liter of Jager in hand, loves everything) and someone who smells like they've been smoking the nastiest cigarettes all nightr, and even currently has a lit cigarette. If you had to pick only one of them to let inside your sparkling apartment, which would you pick? The very clearly drunk person, or the stinky smoker? If I were a betting man, I'd wager you would take the smoker. Why, you ask? It is very easy to deal with someone who smokes. Any smoker worth anything knows that sometimes you can't smoke inside, and when going over to someone's house, will ask permission before doing so. We all know how much it sucks to smoke out in the cold, but that's why we have heavy coats and hats (not gloves, they get in the way of smoking). And if you don't like the smell, well, give us some sort of spray, and we'll make ourselves stink good. It's also very easy to talk to a smoker, since we're calming down while we smoke, and it helps us think more clearly.
Someone hopped up on the booze, however, is a completely different story. First off, you have to be aware of what kind of person they are when they drink. Some are happy, some are sad, some are angry, some are stupid, etc. Unless you have prior experience with the person, it can be a rather unpleasant surprise when their drunk alter ego shows up. Ok, so you let the drunk guy in, and he's a happy drunk, so you lucked out. He stumbles in, knocks over some stuff of a table, spills his booze on your freshly cleaned carpet, admires your boobs if you happen to be a chick, calls you a gay if you happen to be a guy, throws up on your TV, and passes out. If he was a sad drunk, you'd have to deal with him crying and wanting all sorts of hugs. If he was an angry drunk then you probably got assaulted, and if he was a stupid drunk then he probably showed up at your door naked with an empty beer case on his head flirting with your bushes. Why are smokers the outcasts again?
Here's another scenario: What do you think when you're driving along in town, and you see someone smoking while they drive? Probably something like "Oh, he's smoking. I wonder what we're having for dinner tonight. I sure hope it's Hot Pockets!" When you see someone smoking while driving, I'm going to wager that most people don't give it any sort of second thought. Maybe if they had their windows rolled up, and had a kid in the car with them. Otherwise, it is of no real concern. Now let's say you're driving down the road, and see someone downing a fifth of Jack while driving. You would probably think something along the lines of "Oooohhhhhh fuck this!" and get the hell away from them as fast as possible, because you know there's going to be a wreck, and don't want to be involved with it. I don't think I've ever heard of any traffic accident cause by a smoker. I'm sure it's happened, but not with anywhere near the frequency of alcohol related accidents. But as long as they are drinking and driving responsibly, it's ok, right?
One final thing. The price of cigarettes is, indeed, ridiculous. A buddy of mine has said that where he lives, cartons are going for around $100 a shot. They raised the taxes on cigarettes a few years ago to help people decide to quit. However, the money that is gained from the cigarette tax hike goes towards health care for low-income families. So, they want you to quit so they raise the taxes, but they need that tax money to help poor families...? It's stupid shit like this that make me smoke.