The Defense

Look man I don't come down to where you work and slap the dick outta your mouth, so don't tell me what to do either.
Damn you, look at this you've made me resort to childish cut-downs.

I must say that I do not appreciate all this intolerance with smokers, mainly because I am a smoker, and I am not a vicious person, even if I don’t smoke for a day or two. I am not aiming to kill everybody through my smoking. Yet this seems to be the perception of the web-site. I in fact always ask the people I’m out with if it will bother them if I smoke, if they say yes, I will go outside so as not to bother them. Or, heaven forbid, I won't smoke at all.

The Courtesy

My suggestion is that smokers follow some guidelines, mainly to get these non-smoking upstart ass-holes off our backs about it. Now remember this is just a suggestion, I’m not trying to tell you what to do either.

  • Ask before you light up around people who might be non-smokers.
  • Don’t be afraid to go outside if need be. People in Austin, Texas don’t have any choice in this matter, city ordinance forbids smoking inside any place that is not considered to be a bar.
  • Field-dress your cigarette butts, especially in your vehicles. You Military and Police Academy people know what I mean, for the rest of you, this means to roll the tobacco out of the paper (primarily the lit portion), stepping on it and putting the butt in your pocket, or trash recepticle.
  • Don’t blow smoke in people’s faces, that’s just rude as hell.
  • Don’t continually spark your lighter. God that’s annoying.
  • Do anything but throw your butts out the window of your car, those really hurt motorcyclists.
  • Avoid violent arm movements in crowded places, cigarette burns hurt.
  • Don’t smoke while filling up your car with gas, that’s stupid, and it scares the other people at the gas station.

Now once again I remind you that these are just some suggestions, if you choose not to follow them, good for you, if you choose to follow them, don't restrict yourself to these rules, improvise, polite-away you won't hurt anyone's feelings if you're considerate about what your doing.

The Defence:

Smoking is cool.

The harder the establishment tries to tell me it's not, the cooler it becomes.

I like smoking.

Much as with masturbation in days gone by, no amount of preaching is going to make me stop liking it.

The Courtesy:

Please don't assume I'm a rude puffing bitch.

At least wait for me not to have asked whether you mind me smoking (which will happen, but only very rarely) before going off on a diatribe about how inconsiderate all smokers are.

Please don't lecture me about what a disgusting habit smoking is.

It is not considered acceptable for me to remark on your BO, or on the fact that the slurping noises you make with your pint are making me gag. The fact we have a difference of personal habits does not mean you can call me smelly or flegmy.

Please don't elaborate on the health risks smoking is exposing me to.

I'm sure that in the confines of your home you do all sorts of things which are bad for you. I don't stick my nose in your medical history, and you can kindly stay out of mine.

All of the above are plain good manners, which isn't I think too much to ask. One's politeness, personal hygene and state of health are not considered by society at large to be suitable subjects of discussion, except by mutual consent between close friends. It strikes me that smoking and smokers are somehow removed from that simple equation and left to dangle perilously in the wind where anyone can take a potshot at them. I'm not here for your amusement. I smoke with my own lungs in my own time, and save for politely asking me not to do it in your face, you can kindly shut up about it.

Just in case this is worth mentioning, the "you" in the above is strictly hypothetical, is not geared towards any one noder or other person, and is definitely what it claims to be - a list of general guidelines, not an acrimonious whinge.

Normally, I don't give a shit when people smoke. Smokers, on the whole, are more courteous about smoking than non-smokers are about not smoking, and those that aren't are easily avoidable. And if you don't like smoke, do what K9 says... go someplace where it's prohibited. Like Fenway Park. Or an airplane. Or a government building in Massachusetts. I'm sure you can find a place. And smokers, I'm sure you've been antagonized more that you need to be, but please don't talk to me about this, "It's my body" shit.

If it's your body, then I'll make a deal with you. Forty years down the road, you're in the hospital with emphysema, having polyps removed some random part of your body, while you talk to your kids through a voice box, please, please, PLEASE, don't ask for a fucking dime of my money to pay for your medical expenses. It's bad enough that I'm handing over money to Social Security that I'll never see, because the government can't manage a trust fund. I don't need to be giving money to pay for the treatment of other people's preventable smoking-related health problems.

theonomist, I'm picking up your sarcasm, and you should hope so, because you're laying it on pretty thick. What you choose to omit is the fact that some of these things are far more beneficial than harmful. Perhaps I should not feed the well-known troll, but I will. Athletic activity is far more likely to result in a fitter, more healthy person than it is to result in permanent debilitating injury. People who drive too fast and run red lights are supposed to be taken care of by our boys in blue, as are people who jaywalk. There's absolutely nothing wrong with meat, so don't even start with that, and chewing sugarfree gum after a meal actually helps prevent cavities. Smoking, on the other hand, has few positive benefits, other than making dry cleaners and senators from North Carolina happy.

I might also point out that I have no problem with smoking. Perhaps if you'd like to read the above statement again, it would be clear. I have friends that smoke. I have relatives that smoke. I don't give a shit. But when they feel the need to justify themselves, or as DMan would say, force their smoking philosophy on me, and tell me that they're only hurting themselves, they need to be hit with the clue-by-four.

Mordax, which government is that? Canada? How about some relevant statistics worldwide. Damn, E2 is becoming too Canadacentric.

The point about smoking and health insurance is a good one, but it addresses only a small corner of a larger problem. People do lots of unhealthy things. I'm damned if I'll pay for any of it. Therefore, the following people should be denied the health care their insurance company is contractually obligated to provide by virtue of the premiums paid:

  • Athletes of any kind, amateur or professional. There are dozens of common sports-related injuries, and worst of all, people who "stay fit" tend to have a somewhat prolonged retirement and old age, during which they collect far more than their share of social security and require increasingly expensive care.

  • People who eat meat, or fast food of any description. Hydrogenated oils, cholesterol, preservatives etc.: The list goes on. It's all purely voluntary, and it all causes health problems. It's insane to demand that vegetarians pay for the bad dietary decisions of others.

  • Indolent, lazy people who never exercise. Let's face it, that kind of worthless, couch potato lifestyle is well-known to be harmful to your health. Hypertension and outright heart disease (not to mention piles) are no more than what you deserve, and it's grossly unfair to ask me to foot the bill.

  • Sky divers, hang gliders, bungee jumpers, those who ski, and the like. HELLO?!

  • People who drive too fast, people who run red lights, and so on.

  • People who don't look both ways before crossing the street.

  • People who drink soda, eat candy, or chew gum. They're your teeth, you pay for the dental work. Did you ever see what Pepsi does to the paint on a car?

  • People who use medication of any description, and also those who don't. Either way, something bad might happen.

There, I think that's everybody.

The defence

Bear with me on this one…

The most important overarching avant-garde artistic movements of the last 150 years have set out to subvert, unsettle and challenge prevailing notions of creative acceptability, in order to break down barriers to the fulfilment of creative and expressive freedom. The aesthetic world has been forced, piece-by-piece, to hold an unblinking mirror to its carbuncular visage, to comprehend its vapid nature. A prime responsibility of art must be this process of intellectual and visceral disquieting, the middle finger held up to the heavens, the challenge to the rules of its form, to the rules of the state.

Artistic subversion has worn many mantles, shattered many forms. Anthony Julius asserts in “The Offence of Art” (Thames & Hudson), that, “Taboo-breaking art, in our times, has had three distinct moments. There is the originating moment in 1860’s Paris, with the exhibiting of Olympia and those other works of Manet’s. There is then the moment of maturity, which is Surrealism. Here, the transgressive aesthetic is realised in a series of remarkable, uncompromising artworks. At last, there is the moment of closure, which begins in the 1960s, and is itself just ending… In the first of these moments, transgressive artworks had a complexly antagonistic relationship with the academy (representatively, the Paris Salon); in the second, it was outside, and indifferent to the academy (all academies); in the third, it tended to be inside, and complicit with, the academy (representatively, the Royal Academy in London)”

Julius asserts that, “the third version of transgressive art is the weakest”. On the surface he appears to be correct, the subversive, shocking nature of art has seemed to slide away from underneath its feet in recent years. Much avant-garde has moved through postmodern pastiche and evolved into increasingly predictable cliché of itself. Baudrillard’s prophesies born out by increasingly uninspired art-stars. The problem, I would suggest, is not in the weakness of the third version of transgressive art, but rather in that we are sat witnessing the petering of the embers of the stage. Contemporary attempts from within the ranks of self styled avant-gardists at subverting the form may never again attain the inflammatory, society wide impact affected by punk, or surrealism. The establishment has claimed as its own, its bedfellow, those would-be mavericks of our age. Nothing shocking remains in the palate of Damian Hirst, of Tracy Emin, nothing that is that can compare to the subversive, and growing significance of the cigarette.

That’s right, the cigarette.

Clearly, the construct of the artist is no longer equipped with transgressive power. His postmodern rhetoric has robbed him of that. It therefore falls to those remaining dissidents, the unannounced, the devotees to dissidence, the smokers. Clearly there is no functional logic to defend the loyalty of smokers to their drug of choice. As vices go, nicotine must be the worst value for money that I have yet encountered. Cocaine, ecstacy etc. may do you a whole load of harm, but boyohboy do you have a good time on the high road to hell. Nicotine enjoyment merely constitutes the satiation of an addiction. But then, that’s part of the appeal. The most attractive stars were always those with a smattering of the self-destructive. Every establishment source that you choose to engage with will tell you that your vice is wrong. Every day, the offensive power of being a smoker grows. The Royal Academy seems unlikely to come out in public as defending the moral rectitude of smoking. As modern art’s teeth fall out, day after day, and Gap retails its very own punk range, you, the proud smoker stand proud on the smouldering embers of dissent.

The Courtesy

When some well meaning, self-righteous git comes up and engages you in some polemic about your evil status as a smoker, calmly extend that middle finger to heaven, and reply, “Fuck off, I’m an artist.”

"In 1991, smokers spent $10.45 billion on tobacco products,of which about 75% went to governments in the form of taxes. Excluding lost income (which costs individuals and not governments) and disability (which incurs costs for the employer), the cost of smoking for governments was about $2.3 billion in health care costs (including residential care) and an additional $96 million in lost income taxes from smokers who died in 1991. The latter number is estimated by assuming that, on average, those smokers who died in 1991 earned one half of their income at a tax rate of 19.8%. Even with this latter amount included, the result is that smokers paid in more than they took out by about $5.4 billion. "
(Source: Health Canada - CDIC Vol. 18 No.1, 1997)

You don't want to be giving money to pay for smokers' treatment? I'd say it looks to me like you owe the smokers some gratitude. I'm sure the government didn't mind the $5.4 billion dollar lump in it's wallet.

I'll make you a better deal : Tomorrow morning, I'll get all smokers to quit smoking. It would give you a great deal of new material to use in your next rant about your increased income tax and sales tax as the government attemps to recover the billions of dollars it just lost from it's revenue stream.

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