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View Diary: But You Don't Understand, You Don't Smoke - Update (394 comments)

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  •  I smoked for 22 years. Didn't understand until (27+ / 0-)

    I quit.   Yep, we need to somehow make it acceptable for people to insist on no smoke around them---and none of the "you don't understand."

    I do understand, and I don't care.  Just don't do it in or around me or my house, or around my grandchildren.  My granddaughter comes home from time with her dad and goes straight into the shower--her choice...

    Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by maybeeso in michigan on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 09:28:10 AM PST

    •  For years we've gone straight to the showers (20+ / 0-)

      after visiting any of their homes. We gather the clothes from the visits and banish them to the garage until they are washed in the laundry.

      If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never has and never will be. Thomas Jefferson

      by JDWolverton on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 09:30:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why has anyone even STARTED smoking in the last... (5+ / 0-)

      ... twenty or thirty or forty years?  That's what I don't get.  

      It's not like it hasn't been complete, widely-available, common-sense, public knowledge -- for decades -- that smoking does terrible things to you.  For the last few decades the decision to start smoking has pretty much been equivalent to deciding to eat a bit of toxic waste every day.  Why would anyone do it?

      I can understand older people continuing -- people who started in the 40's and 50's, say, when the dangers weren't fully known, and when the whole culture smoked ... but why would anyone start in the last few decades?

      I've seen year after year of college freshmen start smoking, just because it supposedly seems "cool" and "mature" -- and they even take a kind of pride in how addicted they are, and how they "need" a cigarette.  But while that really makes them seem like idiots, it can at least be chalked up to that immature teenage sense of invulnerability.  ("It won't happen to me!")

      What I really don't get is people who start in their 30's and 40's.  My sister is a doctor and says she regularly gets people of that age in her office, and when she asks how long they've been smoking, they say, "About a year,"  or "A couple years."  

      Why?!!

      •  LOL (4+ / 0-)

        You know, I'm trying not to get angry reading these fucking comments and I give up. YOU don't understand is god damn right. I started smoking at the age of 10. Most people start smoking in adolescence. Try having nicotine addiction wired into your still growing body and then you won't have to ask "Why has anyone even started smoking in the last twenty or thirty or forty years?" or "why would anyone do it?"

        Why the fuck does anyone do anything? Alcohol, smoking, drugs, unsafe sex, bungee jumping. So these people aren't as smart as you, they started smoking. Bully for you! Congratulations on your superiority complex,

        •  How in the heck did you manage (4+ / 0-)

          to find your way to a comment thread about the hazards of smoking if you feel that way?

          If you ever get to the place where injustice doesn't bother you, you're dead. ~~ Molly Ivins

          by zoebear on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 07:07:37 PM PST

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          •  I don't hate people who don't like smoking (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ted Hitler

            I think smoking is bad. I approve of quitting, I even try it myself! What I do hate is holier than thou attitudes about it, depressingly displayed in this comment section.

            •  I think it's less holier-than-thou... (0+ / 0-)

              ...than uninformed. Many people unconsciously ascribe a moral component to quitting, have limited information about addictive behavior, and truly DO think it's entirely a matter resolved by rational decision-making.

              That said, if I am entirely honest with myself, I know that when I was a smoker (and I was a dedicated, multi-pack-a-day smoker for more than two decades), I was perhaps more likely to assume someone was being holier-than-thou or judgmental about my smoking, even if they weren't.  And for a whole lot of reasons (guilt, frustration, self-consciousness, addiction-fueled cognitive dissonance) I was defensive. Criticism or even clueless questions felt like a personal attack. It pressed my buttons, almost without fail.

              Shit, I worked in public health, routinely walked past the smoking area at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, had an office in a building with an entire floor dedicated to smoking cessation and prevention (and a boss who spent ten years doing that for the WHO), and once had to share elevator space with the former Surgeon General while I was on my way to a smoke break. The opportunities for guilt were everywhere; I felt (as did my fellow smokers there) as though we were under siege.

              In short, I knew better than most, on an intellectual level, why smoking was bad and all the reasons why I shouldn't do it. But nicotine addiction not a rational process. And people who ask questions like "...why would you ever even start?" aren't recognizing that. It's not a superiority complex, it's a case of "unclear on the concept" of addiction in general and nicotine addiction (a "legal" and until recent decades, a socially acceptable one) in particular.

              They don't realize, for example, that most people start in their adolescence (and yes, college counts), when their brains aren't quite wired like an adult's is, and when their ability to extrapolate cause and effect or project consequences down the road is compromised or practically nonexistent. Virtually everyone who starts thinks "I can always just quit," or "I'll just quit when I'm X age" or "I'll quit when I have a kid," or whatever.  By the time you wise up, it's too late.

              "When did it fall apart? Sometime in the '80s / When the great and the good gave way to the greedy and the mean." - Billy Bragg

              by Vacationland on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 12:55:54 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  I'm serious. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JDWolverton, indubitably

          Knock off the attacks and defensiveness.

          I grew up in a house where both my parents smoked.  I grew up breathing in second-hand smoke.

          I watched my father die miserably at age 50 of lung cancer when I was 17, reduced to 98 pounds.  (He started in the late 40's, when he was 17.)

          I've watched my mom try to quit for years, and she has finally mostly done it.

          Try having nicotine addiction wired into your still growing body and then you won't have to ask "Why has anyone even started smoking in the last twenty or thirty or forty years?" or "why would anyone do it?"
          This doesn't even make sense.  Obviously by the time the "addiction has been wired into your body" it is far past the starting point.

          I fully understand it's an addiction that is really, really hard to quit.  Everyone knows that now.  My question wasn't a fatuous, "Duh, why don't people just quit?"

          Again, my question, meant sincerely, is:  Why does anyone start?  And, why, especially, does anyone start in their 30's or 40's?  It's not like anyone can plead ignorance these days.  That is what I really don't get it.  

          •  I started because my mom smoked (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JDWolverton, niemann

            That was in the mid-seventies. They were lying around, and easily stolen. All of my siblings also 'took the bait', and one still is a heavy smoker.
            My wife smokes, and our daughter did exactly what I did in my early teens; stole butts and started smoking. She's also a heavy smoker.
            Not meaning to make a broad brush statement; those are simply the facts of my life. My mom also smoked throughout her pregnancies, as did my wife and now my daughter. I don't know if that predisposes the child toward nicotine, but I do know it carries risks to the baby. My grandson stands little chance of avoiding this addiction, I fear, growing up with two parents who smoke heavily.

            Stand for something, or you'll fall for anything - Malcolm X via Skindred

            by kamarvt on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:39:23 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Were you ever young and stupid? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            niemann

            Maybe you didn't start smoking, but I'll bet there were a few stupid things you did when you were young that you regret now.  Count yourself lucky that your stupid indiscretions did not involve getting hooked on nicotine, or alcohol, or opiates, or meth, or any number of other substances that are addictive.

            I started smoking at 15, partially because my mother did, - I could steal cigarettes easily, and I ran with a crowd that thought it was cool.  It wasn't about health in any sense - who thinks about about being 50 and sick from emyphysema or dying of lung cancer when you are 15?  Always time to quit later, right?  But I watched my mother die a horrible death of metastatic lung cancer less than 10 years later.  And I have not smoked in the 30 years since that.  

            Don't get me wrong - I do not believe that those with addictions should be permitted to impose unlimited consequences on others or should not have boundaries.  Believe me, I have had to draw some very difficult lines with my son to try and help him attain health, success in life, and to contain the effect of his multiple addictions and protect his siblings.  BTW, he is 25 and we have helped him through treatment 5 times now for addiction to alcohol, opiates, and other substances.  Oh, and he is addicted to nicotine too.  Has been since 14 when he took up smoking with his peers.      

            The point is - people don't generally begin smoking, or drinking to excess, or taking heroin, or free-basing meth at 30.  They usually begin it much earlier, at least in part because of the inherent emotional immaturity of youth.  Will you really condemn someone for a mistake they made at 10 or 12 or 15 or even 18, and now have huge physical and psychological barrier to get past?

            If you will, where is your compassion?

            "[L]et us judge not that we be not judged." Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1865

            by ByTor on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 11:16:12 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I started smoking at 10 (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              niemann

              Or was it 9?

              I quit a couple of years ago. I just kept quitting til I quit.

              Quitting doesn't require compassion from others. It requires determination and compassion for others for the way that smoking pollutes the environment and harms the health of not just the smoker, but innocent bystanders.

              Maturity is not the issue, except insofar as the smoker is mature enough to forego satisfaction for the sake of the health and wellbeing of others.

              •  Congratulations and best wishes. (0+ / 0-)

                I would generally agree that maturity is not the issue.  But I do believe that people feel the impulses of addiction differently, and certainly to different degrees.

                It was not hard at all for me to quit, even though I smoked very heavily for a few years in my youth.  But I recognize that my experience is something of an anomaly.

                Yes, compassion from others is not a requirement for someone to decide to quit.  But, it never hurts, and may help a person with a larger struggle with addiction than our own.  So, why not give it if we can?

                "[L]et us judge not that we be not judged." Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1865

                by ByTor on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 09:55:59 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  I appreciate your comment. (0+ / 0-)

              I understand the emotional immaturity part.  That's why I wrote this qualification:

              But while that really makes them seem like idiots, it can at least be chalked up to that immature teenage sense of invulnerability.  ("It won't happen to me!")
              And I definitely understand the influence that comes with a family background where people smoked -- although that was more an influence on my brother, sister and I deciding definitely NOT to.  We hated being around it and having to breath it in.

              That makes me wonder why some young people are influenced in a negative way by it, and some to do it themselves.  What are the factors there?

              I still don't understand why it's even now remotely considered "cool" by young people (meaning the early college age people I've seen year after year).  They are usually from a more fortunate and privileged background and can't plead ignorance.   They even joke in a "cool" way about how bad it is for them, and how they'll get cancer.  They know.  

              (Now that I think of it, the ones I'm thinking of do tend to be in the arts programs, from what I've seen ... so maybe they think there's something "romantic" and "artistic" in that kind of self-destructive behavior.)

              I really don't get the adults who start.  I was shocked to hear my sister say that there are many of them, let alone any at all.

              I never said I condemn anyone.  I've worked with addicts as a counselor.  I know what they go through.  What I've said all along is that I simply don't understand it.

              •  Well taken. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                niemann

                I don't understand it either, really.  I smoked a lot when I started - like two and three packs a day.  And I stupidly thought of it (at all of 20 years old) as some sort of fearless, and fatalistic defiance of mortality.

                Now, it was not that I was from a privileged background.  Solidly, lower middle class, but not rich or well-to-do.  And my undergraduate degree is in mechanical engineering, and I also have a law degree (how is that for mixing stereotypes).

                Anyway, once I saw my mother, over a 9 month period of time, die a very, very, painful death almost certainly caused by her lifelong smoking habit, I quit.  And it wasn't really hard for me.  I had no cravings, or urges to substitute something else.  Two months before her death, I just quit.

                I think that is extremely unusual, however, and likely due to a lucky (for me) accident of my physical and psychological makeup that made that possible.  And that was not any of my doing at all - I have fairly good will power and was strongly motivated by my mother's death, but I am simply not burdened as many other people are by the impulses of addiction.  At least to nicotine.  For those who are, I cannot and will not venture to judge.

                "[L]et us judge not that we be not judged." Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1865

                by ByTor on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 08:28:50 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

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