New Pilgrim ChroniclesClick banner to order, click here
for book review

New Pilgrim ChroniclesClick banner to order, click here
for book review

A Word about Smoking
Some related thoughts on the demon weed
by Gerhard Fuerst

... possibly related, as a balance, to my Free State panegyric column on fighting the smoking ban back in the days of my initial migration there. I do also recall that the majority of those of us opposing the ban sported buttons stating "Another nonsmoker for freedom". No question the habit is dirty and deadly, at least in extremis, ranking up there with obesity and dropping 2,000 tons of depleted uranium dust on civilian populations... in gifts that keep on giving... much suffering. [On the other hand, there's something about inhaling an American Spirit nonfilter, with three or four Maker's Marks on the rocks, in a (well-ventilated) bar that I'd hate to deny people the absolute voluntary experience of.] — Ed.

I used to smoke, before I thought the wiser of it.  I suppose I thought it was the manly thing to do.  After all, I was surrounded by smokers. My paternal grandfather was fond of cigars.  He even had a so-called "Rauchzimmer," a room set aside for smoking.  I recall that it was crowded with puffing friends and relatives on many a social occasion, particularly after Sunday meals, or after the regular "Kaffeeklatsches," for which my grandparents were well known in my Franconian home town Feuchtwangen.

My father favored cigarettes and cigarillos.  An uncle liked cigars. He got great enjoyment out of entertaining us with his unquestioned skill of blowing smoke rings, one right through the middle of a previous one, etc. We were mesmerized.  At the time I did not, however, associate his severe coughing with his regular and intense smoking, at least not until much later, but I did not particularly care for the smelly spittoons, kept both by my grandfather and my uncle. I thought them to be disgusting devices.

Of course, as children we were regularly and routinely told that you really had to be adult enough, man enough, mature enough, grown up enough to be able to smoke.  Just to prove this very point, my father told me at one point, and I recall that I was just about eight at the time: "Well son, I think you are old enough to smoke!"  Of course I was very excited and thrilled at the prospect.  He showed me very carefully and patiently, how to prepare a cigar for lighting. It was a regular ritual: to first savor the fine smell of the fresh tobacco, by passing the cigar under your nose and inhaling with obvious delight, to clip both ends with care, and then to light the front end, while at the same time trying very intensely to draw the air and with it, of course, also the smoke into your mouth and nostrils. 

Well, that first smoking experience turned into an immediate disaster. I choked, coughed, turned green, and lost whatever we just had for dinner in a convulsive upheaval, that was sudden and very wrenching. After picking myself up from the floor and trying to deal with a severe case of dizziness and nausea, my father concluded:

"Well, son, I think you need to wait a while longer. I don't think you are grown up enough to smoke!"

My own conclusion: how could anyone find this nasty stuff so appealing!?  I considered all smokers to be absolutely crazy, almost insane! Unfortunately,  being exposed to so much smoke in my childhood, I ended up with severe respiratory ailments which followed me into adulthood.  Until fairly recently I continued to have perennial bouts with bronchitis, which became more severe with each passing year,  and equally severe problems with asthma.  Nevertheless, and probably not being very bright about the matter, I became a smoker myself, at least for a while. I even prided myself with my very fancy pipe collection, many of which I had inherited from my grandfather.

As a teenagers, of course, thinking ourselves to be invincible, we tried to "prove" our manhood and that we now could actually handle smoking, and all sorts of other things, which were actually still illegal until the official age of majority, which was traditionally and perhaps arbitrarily kept at 21. I smoked for many years off and on with some degree of regularity, but I eventually phased it out when I noticed that members of my family were suffering the ill effect of it.  My own health problems, I found out later were the results of secondary smoke caused by others, and then also the smoke which I produced myself.

I know of many who had contracted the sever condition of emphysema, a respiratory condition which is essentially irreversible. I know of several who had died a gruesome death as a consequence of it. To have to witness someone dying from this disease it is a horrifying experience. It leaves you feeling helpless, to say the least.  My father most likely had to attribute some of his ill health in later years to his smoking habit. My younger sister died of cancer.  Her husband was a heavy smoker as well. Smokers cause not only problems for themselves, but for all who are in their immediate proximity. Secondary smoke is as harmful as the primary stuff inhaled directly. 

The manufacturers of tobacco had actually kept research secret that tobacco products are harmful and deadly.  At the very least, the use of tobacco products has a proven addictive consequence.  The marketing of such products always stressed alleged pleasure and enjoyment derived from smoking. The fact that it could be fatal, that truth was not revealed and made public in the long run, until smokers themselves initiated law suits against tobacco companies. More could, should and needs to be said.  Having experienced the ill effects of smoking on my own person, I cannot recommend it. Having witnessed the grave illnesses caused by smoking for members of my family, and for many friends, I am actually quite grateful that smoking had come under restrictions and outright legal bans.

Of course, all of these restrictions have caused controversy. There are other things which are deadly as well, and they have not been declared illegal or banned. Prohibition of alcohol consumption and production proved impossible, and the ban was eventually repealed and reversed. Drinking can also cause death, especially as a result of drunk driving. 

Laws concerning the sale of alcohol have been modified, and drinking times in taverns and bars have actually  been extended rather than being curtailed. Driving itself is in many ways dangerous and deadly, if not practiced with care and reasonably.  Driving has not been banned, nor will it ever be. We can appeal to reason and a sense of responsibility and respect for others.

Smoking is considered a right by some. Personally, I consider it a nuisance, and it smells bad.  My saying so will most likely annoy many longtime smokers.  I just hope that none of them will ever contract emphysema. It is a horrible way to die! So, quit smoking. Just for the health of it!

Gerhard A. Fuerst

When you've decided to quit whatever substance addiction you're suffering from, you are going to need any addiction treatment information you can get as you enter rehab. — ed.

Here is what others are saying about smoking:

1. How many people die because of smoking each year?  Over 443000 Americans (over 18 percent of all deaths) die because of smoking each year. Secondhand smoke kills about 50000 of them. ...

2. Deaths from Smoking -  Note: this automatic extrapolation calculation uses the deaths statistic: 440000 annual deaths each year are smoking-associated (CDC) ... SYMPTOMS - DISEASES & CONDITIONS - DIAGNOSIS - VIDEOS

3. Statistics about Smoking -  Deaths from Smoking: 440000 annual deaths each year are smoking-associated (CDC). Death rate extrapolations for USA for Smoking: 440000 per year, ...

4. Annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life ...  Sex- and age-specific smoking-attributable deaths were calculated by multiplying the ... each year as a result of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. ...

5. Smoking Causes 400000 Premature Deaths Per Year, Study Finds  Jul 6, 2005 ... Cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke caused 438000 premature deaths in the United States each year from 1997 through 2001, ...

6. Cigarette Smoking and Cardiovascular Diseases  Cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the ... is a chief contributor to the high number of deaths from smoking. ... heart and blood vessel disease are caused by other people's smoke each year. ...

7. Smoking Deaths Cost U.S. $92 Billion a Year  The report also finds that during 1997-2001 an estimated 438000 premature deaths occur each year as a result of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. ... › Healthcare › Healthcare News 


MX Fast Money Success System :: Banner 06


Web Hosting from $7.95 a month! Widgets

Coffee Coaster Blog
Your Ad Here
Main | Columns | Movie Reviews | Book Reviews | Articles | Guest