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Missing the Point [Nov. 2nd, 2012|11:24 am]
the community for those who smoke and LIKE IT

Earlier this week, my job had me driving into the very rural hinterlands. I mean, it was the middle of nowhere, out past where god lost his sandals. Anyway, after about three hours I reached my destination, conducted my business in about twenty minutes, and was ready to be on my way. Since I was hungry and out of cigarettes, I asked for directions to a store and followed them. Said store was a crossroads family-type joint where I got some chips and a cup of coffee. When I asked for a pack of Marlboro eds, I was informed that all they sold were Marlboro Golds/Lights and a couple of menthol varieties of Camel. "We just stock what people around here smoke."

Well, even though I'm willing to put just about anything in my lungs at least once, I refuse to defile them with menthol, so I took the Marlboro Lights. As the clerk pushed them across the counter she said, "These are better for you anyway."

Say what? Do people still buy the notion that "light" cigarettes are significantly less harmful? As far as I'm concerned, people should smoke whatever they want; but to claim that pumping a bunch of crap in your lungs from one kind of cigarette is less harmful than from another makes no sense whatsoever. Two of the three people I have known who have died from emphysema smoked Carlton for God's sake!

Anyway, I made it to another, better stocked, store about an hour later. On my way to my car a guy on a prison work crew cleaning a ditch asked if I had a spare cigarette. I gave him the remainder of the pack of Marlboro Lights/Gold.
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Little rants of the week [Sep. 23rd, 2012|02:18 am]
the community for those who smoke and LIKE IT

This week I moved to a new building at work, and am under a new boss (though still in essentially the same position.) New boss doesn't know I smoke, because generally I don't smoke during the day at work (but use snus.) I've gotten out of the habit during work since I find it a bother to take the elevator down and stand outside on the street and be under public scrutiny. 
New boss is showing me around and somehow we get on the subject of drinking coffee and tea, and she is talking about coffee being so unhealthy (huh? apparently she is also one of the new Cult of the Body members) She then relates some anecdote about her father, when she was a kid, always having to have his cup of coffee after dinner, "along with a cigarette. GROSS!" I just chuckled in a non-committed manner and said nothing.
Tonight, as I was standing outside after dinner with my boyfriend and a (female) friend of ours, both nonsmokers, I couldn't find my lighter and she says out of nowhere, "Good! Smoking sucks!"
I'm just so over this week. 
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Anti-Smoking Education Editorial [Jun. 5th, 2012|05:54 pm]
the community for those who smoke and LIKE IT

Budget cuts have forced the local school system to have most, if not all, teachers taking on some additional responsibilities. As a result, a friend of my wife's and mine who teaches seventh grade social studies will also be teaching fourth grade phys. ed. next year. part of her PE responsibilities will be teaching a series of anti smoking classes.

My wife and I had her over for dinner last night. She brought her materials with her and we had a good laugh at them and the fact that they will be taught by a thirty five year old woman who has smoked one to two packs a day since her mid-teens. I was struck by a couple of things in particular.

One was that the materials tell the instructor, if a smoker, not to deny it if a student asks if he/she smokes, but to admit it and say that they regret starting and are trying to quit but are finding it difficult. I don't agree with lying to kids. I think it would be better to tell them "Yes, I smoke because I enjoy it, but it is addictive and may well kill me; so think about that before you decide to try it."

The other thing that struck me was that according to the background materials (I paraphrase) "Children, particularly those under age thirteen, who know adults with emphysema are much less likely to start smoking if they know what caused their adult friend's breathing problems." I disagree. By the time I started smoking at the tender age of 11, I had known one adult who had died of lung cancer, and knew two adults with emphysema who, even with supplemental oxygen, had obvious breathing problems. It made absolutely no difference.

Even when I was in my mid-teens and could better understand the connection between pumping massive amounts of crap in your lungs for a lifetime and constantly struggling to breathe, the site of a friend's 55 year-old aunt gasping for air after climbing a flight of stairs didn't make me consider quitting. If anything, it had the opposite effect. I knew that she had lived a very vivacious life and that smoking had been part of what she had enjoyed about it.

It seems to me that, as with most things, giving kids accurate, straight forward information so they can make educated decisions is more effective than over the top scare tactics.

But what do I know? I'm a smoker.
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Grand Theft by Ballot Initiative - Vote No on the California Tobacco Tax [May. 30th, 2012|06:04 pm]
the community for those who smoke and LIKE IT
[Current Music |Salt of the Earth - Rolling Stones]

Long time no post. It's the resident machiavellian power grabbing author back at ya' after an extended absence from the keyboard. I've got this crazy notion that we smokers should kind of band together in a mutual self-defense circle by voting for candidates who go easy on us with the taxes and restrictions. We should be courteous and watch the litter and not blow smoke into anyones face (including fellow smokers) but aside from that, I think the world should just leave us the hell alone.

Livejournal is an interesting alternative to Facebook and it seems like there are people from everywhere on these Communities. I'm wondering how many of you emanate from California. Sometimes it seems like everyone is either in California now, or was there, or knows Susie or Ken from Cali. There were 11 million when I was born here, there are 38 million now. I'm not at all sure now that I would go along with The More the Merrier anymore, but what the heck whadya' gonna' do? The weather in the Southern half is simply marvelous. San Diego has nearly perfect weather. It gets a bit chilly in February, but you can always drive about 100 miles south into Baja California (Mexico) and solve that problem.

OK. Here's the deal. A very angry and creepy professor from the University of San Francisco who has a huge, unhealthy lifetime obsession with terminating smoking is working the marionettes from overhead to try an squeeze another dollar a pack out of California smokers. We kicked in $905,000,000 to the state treasury just last year and got a bunch of really stupid and ineffectual television/radio PSA's out of it. Some of the money went to actor Rob Reiners pet project called First 5. He fleeced us with that ballot proposition in 1998.

Nailing us is a political slam dunk. It is 85 against 15 going into the fray to start with. I'm surprised they haven't stuck us with the entire state budget by now. But something amazing happens sometimes. People who don't smoke actually get a twinge of guilt at ganging up on a captive, out-of-favor minority and vote some of these down. It happened in 2006. Rob Reiner barely eked out 50.01% with his heist.

Anyway, mad political scientist/smoker/amateur mathematician that I am, I'm going to bore you with some numerical predictions here and ask to you help vote this Proposition down.

Here's the boring numbers and predictions:

Using past June California primary elections as a guide and applying some of my own homegrown mathematical adjusters, I predict that roughly 5,400,000 will show up on June 5th. The Republican primary has lost its significance now that Romney has prevailed. It would have helped us if the race was still undecided.

There are about 4 million smokers in California.

The magic number is 2,700,001 No votes for the win. If motivated smokers turnout at 50% above the average June primary rate of 30% and a 45% turnout materializes, we’ve got 1,727,550 smoker voters to work with. Let’s say that 80% vote No and, unbelievably, the remainder masochistically vote Yes. That gives us 1,382,100 No votes. We still need 1,318,000 non-smokers for the win.

This represents 36% of the non-smoking electorate or a little over one-in-three. California now has a 60-40 progressive slant. We need to peel off some of their votes along with some stray RINO Republicans to pull this off. It will be close. Every vote counts.

Incidentally, the 1,382,100 smokers voting No would represent about 40% of the overall California tobacco community. Do you think we can get 4 out of 10, in other words a minority within a minority, to step up to the plate? If not, there is no hope for any of us. We are doomed ultimately to outright criminalization for the mere possession of tobacco.

Pass this on to anyone you know who lives in Cali. If you live there personally, by all means set aside some time on Tuesday, June the 5th and go down and vote. Don't sit this one out. And just one more thing. Talk to your friends who don't smoke, particularly if they're of the progressive persuasion (California has been super progressive voting since the 90's) and ask them to vote No on Prop 29.

When you type "No on Prop 29" into a search engine you'll find a lot of editorials and opinions on this. Not one single solitary one I could find was authored by a smoker, except for mine. If you'd like to read how I am reaching out to the progressive, non-smoking California voter click on my avatar and go from there.
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Death by Potpourri [May. 27th, 2012|04:37 pm]
the community for those who smoke and LIKE IT

I seem to be the only person in these parts these days; but since I have some time to kill and in case anyone is still out there, I thought I'd relate a recent experience some might find interesting.

Yesterday afternoon I learned I'm not invincible.

My wife and I attended a friends wedding, and the hall in which the reception was held was a sort of high-style Victorian ballroom with fancy rugs, antique furniture, and crystal chandeliers. And lots of potpourri. Thick doesn't begin to describe the air. I smelled it as soon as we entered, and by the time we reached the newlyweds fifty feet away I felt like I was suffocating. It was like my esophagus was collapsing on itself. I sounded like someone with advanced COPD when I breathed and got outside as soon as possible. My wife drove us to the hospital where she is a nurse and "borrowed" an albuterol inhaler. After a couple of blasts things opened up and I stopped expecting my life to flash before my eyes. It was another couple of hours without smoking and a few more inhaler blasts before I could fill my lungs easily.

I've often joked that I'm willing to put just about anything but menthol in my lungs. In fact, looking back over the years I'm a little surprised at the variety of stuff I have put in them both recreationaly and otherwise. In addition to more than forty pack years of smoking and countless amounts of pot, a partial list includes aerosol alcohol, helium, nitrous oxide, assorted glue and other fumes (I was an adolescent huffer), benzine, cement dust and assorted chemicals with which I've worked like xylene, toluene, methane, acetylene, chlorine, etc. None of it has ever had any effect on my breathing. My standard explanation/joke is that my lungs have a protective coating of tar.

So, my advice for happy lungs: Stay away from potpourri. Breathing that shit will kill you.
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Interviews [May. 1st, 2012|06:55 pm]
the community for those who smoke and LIKE IT

Around this time every year I have to interview summer internship applicants for my entire office. For being willing to do this task, I am allowed to have my pick of two from the five or six that will be hired, so I’m happy to do it. Several years ago, I decided to conduct the interviews at a table on the outside patio of a local coffee shop. We are less likely to be interrupted, there is a nice constant supply of coffee I don’t have to brew, and I’m allowed to smoke. Being able to smoke is nice, but it isn’t for my enjoyment alone. After unwittingly hiring a rabid anti a few years ago who declared that if he had known he was going to be working for a couple of “Black-lunged freaks” (My assistant is also a smoker) he wouldn’t have taken the job, I decided to let applicants know where things stood in time for them to back out.

Yesterday was interview day. My colleagues and I had culled out the eight leading applicants and my assistant had set up the interviews last week, and at a little before 8:00 a.m. I took up my post on the patio and hoped the first person would be late so I could finish waking up. (She wasn’t)

Keep in mind that at this point in the process the applicants being interviewed are those who have made it through pretty close vetting and review. They not only have impressive resumes and transcripts, but they have also handled themselves well on the telephone and had their references checked.

Out of 15 or 16 applicants, we had reduced the list first to ten, then to eight. I learned today that of those eight, seven were smokers, one was not. The day wore along well enough. A couple of people stick out in my mind for good reasons, most are simply parts of the blur and I’ll have to check my notes. One dud, however, made it through the vetting process. We must have been drunk or stoned, or both when we decided to include her in the group for interviewing. Not only was she late, she was dressed like an adult Kewpie doll, used poor grammar, said “like,” you know,” and “I mean” a lot, had not bothered to familiarize herself with the department’s mission, played with her hair, and had to have questions rephrased repeatedly in order to understand them.

I dismissed her as quickly as I could and still give her a fair chance. It wasn’t until I was walking home this afternoon that I realized that out of the eight candidates, the only one who stunk in the interview was also the only non-smoker in the batch.

I have often said that a person’s attitude goes a lot further with me than their qualifications when I am considering them for an open position. Don’t give me overly-cheerful or optimistic. I’d much rather hear, ‘Yeah, we’ll get it done, but it’ll be a bitch to do it.” Than “Gee! I’m just sure we can do it! I know we can!” It also helps if a candidate is a bit of a smartass as well. I once hired a young lady who was equally qualified to the other finalist but would need to be allowed to work slightly odd hours for no other reason than when I asked her if I could get her something to drink she replied, “Coffee would be great if you don’t have gin.” I digress, sorry.

The last interview of the day was with a young woman in her early to mid-twenties. She was running late, but had called to tell me her bus was held up in traffic. She had literally run the three blocks from her bus stop and was winded when she arrived at my table. After breathlessly introducing herself and taking the seat I offered, she apologized for being late and said, breathlessly, “I guess I shouldn’t have run.” I told her it was not a problem and asked if I could get some coffee for her. She declined and said, “Since we’re out here, and I assume those are yours (Pointing at my cigarettes) it’s okay if I smoke.” I assured her her it was, and reached for my own cigarettes. After lighting up, she handed me her paperwork and said, “Thanks, I wouldn’t want my lungs to get too used to clean air or anything.”

I’m pretty sure she’ll get the job.
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Smoking Ban Collateral Damage [Apr. 22nd, 2012|10:17 pm]
the community for those who smoke and LIKE IT

I don’t know when the university where I work passed its indoor smoking ban. It was already in place when I moved here more than ten years ago. While the indoor part was heeded (Except in some of the MFA studios where smoking continues to this day albeit to a much lesser degree); but the prohibition of smoking within 25 feet of any building entrance was largely ignored. Then, about five or six years ago the anti-smoking folks became more vocal about it, and signs were posted. They had some effect, but not much. Every now and then a bored and/or overzealous campus cop would remind someone smoking too close to an entrance to move away from it, but not often. Life went on. (One can estimate the age of a building based on the style of attached cigarette receptacles and their proximity to doorways. The 70’s had some great designs.)

Then, about a year ago, a campus-wide ban was proposed. In a rare display of intelligence and good sense the university president decided against it and pointed out that it would be virtually impossible to enforce and the security folks have better things to do. Now, an interesting development has come along. Until the last couple of weeks, most buildings still had ash cans at or fairly near their entrances. Many of them have been removed in the last couple of weeks, the idea being that doing so will discourage people from smoking near the entrance. It may have, I don’t know. What I do know, is that there have been six reported trash can fires in the last two weeks as smokers needing a place to dispose of their but before entering a building have thrown them in the trash without extinguishing them completely.

I don’t condone vandalism, but part of me takes pleasure in the high likelihood that at least some of the fires haven’t been completely accidental.
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Pre- and Post-Ban Memories [Apr. 19th, 2012|11:23 pm]
the community for those who smoke and LIKE IT

A discussion on another board I visit prompted a couple of memories I thought some in this community might enjoy.

I live in a small city dominated by a large university. There was a brief period right after the smoking ban was passed five or six years ago while bar owners frantically worked to create outdoor serving areas when there were almost as many people standing outside smoking as there were inside drinking. Groups would have designated drink-sitters who would stay inside and watch people's beverages while the rest went outside.

The first memory is from before the ban. About a year before it was passed, a local and much beloved cheap Mexican restaurant was the lone holdout downtown that had not banned smoking before happy hour. It opened at 11:00, and by 11:30 the air was thick enough to give a pink-lunged anti instant emphysema. Then the owner retired and sold the place. The new owner imposed a new rule: No smoking before 2:00.

Any thoughts he had of increasing his business by catering to the antis were dashed when a quiet boycott by his smoking customers was in full swing two days later. By the end of the week the rule was lifted, the smokers returned, and all was well until the city-wide ban was passed.

After the ban several bars decided to become private clubs since the ban didn't apply to them. They charged a nominal fee (I think it was five bucks) and you got a little card and could smoke to your heart's content. No card, no admission, no smoking. Despite the strong university population, my city also has a strong "Towney" population of people active in the local music and arts scene. Many are folks who moved her for college and never left, whether they got a degree or not. On the whole, a damn fine group of folks. Townies have our places, the twenty-something college students have theirs, and some times we each go 'Slumming" in each others territory. All is good. Well, it would happen that a couple of days after my favorite place became a private club a couple for frat boys and their girlfriends decided to join and see what it was all about. They each paid their five bucks, got their cards, and entered a dark and smokey room. It wasn't long before they started making snyde remarks about the air quality, and one of the guys decided to make an issue of it with the bartender who was also the owner. (Side note: I had to question the caliber of student being admitted to higher education today when I recall that the bartender/owner was over six feet tall, pure muscle, and a former Golden Gloves champion) The twit proclaimed that as a dues paying club member he had a right to breath clean air. The bartender calmly asked to see his card and those of his friends. They handed them over for inspection, whereupon they were torn in half with an explanation that the establishment had oversold new memberships and they could not be admitted. Six five dollar bills were handed over as a refund and they were asked to leave.

Frat boy started to make a scene, but who should walk in but George. George the gigantic cop who patrolled that part of town and was respected for his fairness, size, and limited vision (George was more than happy to not notice a lot. It meant less paperwork. When he retired, three bars gave him a party. He said his head wasn't right for a week. But I digress.) George had been waved over by Frank who was working the door. He politely asked if there was a problem. After letting the frat boy and his friends yell for a couple of seconds, he advised them that they were trespassing in a private club and would be arrested if the owner decided to make a formal complaint. They left and George went on his way reassured that when he retired he would never have to pay for another drink.

About an hour later, one of the young women who had been with frat boy's group reappeared and asked if she could buy a membership. The bartender nodded to Frank who took her five bucks and let her inside. She walked to the bar, sat down, lit a cigarette and said, 'God, that guy was an asshole."

Somehow they couldn't find her tab when she closed out.
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Hi there [Apr. 13th, 2012|02:30 pm]
the community for those who smoke and LIKE IT

I found this community after searching the web for pro-smoking groups. I actually signed up for LiveJournal just to join this group because I feel the need to have some people to relate to and talk to about smoking. I feel really alienated now by how the world around me feels about smoking.

I'm 33, and have been smoking since I was about 15. I lived in Europe up until my late twenties and was always quite comfortable in my smoking habit there. When I moved to the US, though, the anti-smoking sentiment became really hard to ignore and started really depressing me. I've quit a couple times, for a few months each, but found it very difficult, and I always missed smoking and came back to it.

I find that almost no one in my life understands that I enjoy smoking and that it is a meaningful and pleasurable activity to me. I also feel now that other smokers have turned against themselves and eachother and hardly any of them will admit anymore that they enjoy smoking. It seems the only way to get by now as a smoker in certain social situations is to act like you hate smoking and want to quit, and to apologize for your habit. I'm sick of it. Anyway, not sure how active this community is but I wanted to introduce myself. It's been therapeutic for me to read over the archives here!
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(no subject) [Mar. 30th, 2012|11:14 am]
the community for those who smoke and LIKE IT

Yesterday afternoon I had a large sheath of stuff to read and edit, so I headed to my favorite coffee shop with a shaded outdoor smoking area. After I had been there a few minutes, a young woman I've seen there before working at the counter approached me and asked if she could purchase a couple of my cigarettes. I gave her a couple, waved her money away, and offered her a light. After accepting, she thanked me and explained that she had just spent the previous 48 hours with her adamantly anti-smoking parents and hadn't had time to buy a pack of cigarettes on her way to work. It was the longest she had gone without smoking in many years. Watching her smoke while we talked was like watching a stray cat being fed and sent my mind back about ten years to a series of events I don't care to experience again.

A couple of friends and I decided to spend a few days at another friends cabin (shack) in the mountains. We lived in different cities, so we met in between and headed for the hills on one car loaded with food, alcohol, and assorted things to smoke. After three days of revelry, we sobered up to the reality of jobs to which we had to return and prepared to leave. We also sobered up to the fact that we were snowed in. I mean really snowed in. That was on a Sunday. We figured we had enough food for a week. Alcohol would last for a couple of days as long as no one went on a bender. The only problem was that between the three of us, we had maybe a pack and a half of cigarettes. I won't cover the next three and a half days in detail, but we ate a lot and tried to not kill each other. Thursday morning we were able to get the car out and slid down the mountain. We unearthed my car and parted ways. Every store I passed was closed, and when I hit the highway, I faced about 70 miles of nothing but road. That afternoon, when I finally reached civilization, my gastank on empty and nerves on edge, the first thing I did was buy a carton of cigaretttes. I then proceeded to chain-smoke for the next twelve hours. When I mentioned it to a friend a couple of days later, he laughed and observed that I probably took a full year off of my life. He may have been right, but it sure felt good.

( About the coffe shop clerk: I offered to go to the store for her, did so, and got to pretend I was a knight in shining armor.)
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