This is one of those topics on which I harp on from time to time. And by “harp” I pretty much mean the instrument my family members must be playing up in Heaven. Right after they accidentally burned down the family tree with a carelessly discarded lit cigarette.
Apparently I’m the proverbial apple that fell far from the tree. Or, in Taker family terms, I’m a mutant. Ironically, at least in this context, I’m a dying breed. You see, I don’t smoke and I never have.
I grew up in the “typical” American family. Our core family unit consisted of mom, dad, a sister, myself and 2.3 cats. Assuming the smoking rate back then, the math is already amazing. For simplicity’s sake we’ll say the odds of an adult smoking were one-in-three back when I was a youngling. Based on that, the odds of me being the only non-smoker in a family of four was about 1 in 27.
But wait, the fun doesn’t stop there. My sister had some children. 4 out of 4 of them are smokers. I had a son. He’s a smoker. My wife had a son. He’s a smoker. My son just announced his pending nuptials on Facebook. Nearby was a picture of the lucky couple. Both were proudly holding cigarettes.
From this data I draw a few conclusions. First, I find it hard to believe the national smoking rate for adults is currently about 18 percent. No way! Secondly, I may have been adopted. Or perhaps mom had a thing with the milkman.
Now I’ll try to tie all this narcissism in with the concept of “freedom” as promised in the subject line of this post. Let’s start with a tweet I just wrote.
The concept seemingly espoused in this famous quote that I mutilated is that freedom, at least in theory, extends only as far as harming someone else. Assuming that secondhand smoke is injurious (I prefer the term deadly) why isn’t it at least as controlled as punching me in the face?
- My wife and I drove a famous surface street here in Portland, Oregon. Our car was continually hit with cigarette smoke the length of the drive. Come to Oregon for the fresh air! (If you can find it.)
- I went to the library. To get there, I had to dash through multiple noxious clouds. One from the bar next door, the other from hipsters sitting outside the coffee shop.
- We went on the Parkways bike ride. Streets were closed to cars. Sections were packed with people where food carts, information booths, etc. had been located to entice people off their bikes. People were walking through and smoking despite the crowds.
- During summer months my wife likes to enjoy dinner on the veranda. Secondhand smoke from the neighbors located upwind interferes with the meal.
- When working in my home office the smoke literally floats in through the open window.
There you have it. Our society’s concept of private ownership entitles me to do what I want on my land (within reason) and my neighbor to do the same. Except that his freedom interferes with mine. So he wins by fault.
Can anyone find fault with this analysis?
As a citizen of this great country who wishes to avoid toxic and disgusting clouds, I seemingly have few options. I can’t drive down the streets, visit many businesses, walk through the park, eat outdoors or even exist where I live. It’s a great time to be me! (I was told I need to be more positive.)
Meanwhile, for those of you who smoke today rather than fifty years ago, the news is that cigarettes have been been deliberately made “more deadly” while being made more addictive than before. During that period of time the odds of getting cancer from smoking have actually increased.
- Chemicals added to cigarettes to ensure addiction, make smoke easier to inhale, reduce harshness and increase the speed nicotine hits the brain
- Today’s smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than in 1964 despite smoking fewer cigarettes
Source: Mail Online
So there’s that, too.
If you happen to see someone wearing a SCUBA* mask while driving down the street, walking on the public sidewalk, or sitting on his lawn, it just might be me.
*Self-Contained Urban Breathing Apparatus