The False Equivalency of Smoking

The False Equivalency of SmokingRecently I posted something on Facebook, a mini-rant about the time it takes to smoke a cigarette. As a non-smoker, I find it a mite annoying, and the post was meant to raise a ruckus about it as well as share some humor (I’m usually trying to be funny and whether people think so is totally up to them).

We non-smokers don’t factor a few drags into every minor errand. When we need milk, we go to the store, buy it, get in the car and leave. It’s frustrating to get in the car, be just about to turn the key, and look up to see the other door still open while my spouse lights up. It’s even more frustrating to buckle two cute but impatient pre-schoolers into their seats, then force them to wait as well while mom gets in a few puffs.

Yes, we non-smokers have kicked smokers out of the stores and restaurants, and yes, there’s no frigging way I will allow smoking in the car. So is it fair to wait while a smoker lights up before we leave? Make a little compromise?

I’m still gonna have to say “No.”

My mini-rant launched an argument about all the time-wasting, annoying things people do, like running, hiking, avoiding housework, picking their nose, nagging, farting constantly, exercising, nailbiting, playing Farmville, watching tennis, blogging, arguing on Facebook, the list goes on…

One part of the discussion surprised me: The number of people who think that smoking is the equivalent of any other hobby, just a coping mechanism for dealing with stress and life, is not ZERO. I was taken aback by this. The argument was along the lines of “Yes, people smoke, but some people collect stamps, which is exactly the same.”


My wife smartly kept the argument focused on the time-wasting aspect of smoking vs. other habits. But for everything else in the short list above, the disadvantages end there, while the disadvantages to smoking have barely begun.

On the list of “Things You’d Be Better Off Doing Than What You’re Doing Now”, running, hiking, and exercise are pretty darn close to the top (You could ask, “What about…?” Yes, some other things are pretty close to the top as well, and running, hiking and exercise help improve performance in those hobbies too. ‘Nuff said.).

Smoking is fairly close to the bottom of this list, in fact, it probably shouldn’t be on it.

Just like stamp collecting? Sure, if I collected stamps, left open bottles of bleach around the house, pumped car exhaust into the windows, and played chicken with semis while driving with the kids, it would be just like smoking. If my running included randomly darting out into traffic, it would be even with smoking. If I took the kids bear-hunting with pellet guns, it would be even with smoking.

A coping mechanism my flatulent ass.

“Did I leave my colony of Africanized bees in the bathtub AGAIN? Sorry.”“Sorry, I really need to pour this antifreeze into the lemonade. It’s how I cope.”

“Oh, sorry about the ball bearings all over the stairs. I’m just a little stressed out this morning.”

“Did I leave my colony of Africanized bees in the bathtub AGAIN? Sorry.”

You see, stamp collecting won’t kill you, unless you bring your collection to a biker bar. There’s almost no way to use stamps to kill other people (but Stephen King could probably think of something).

Smoking is annoying to others. Sure, that puts it on par with tapping your feet constantly. It wastes time, which makes it just like watching any reality show. But it’s also filthy, like tracking mud into the house. It’s smelly, like belching garlic all day. It’s unhealthy, kind of like drinking trace amounts of mercury on a regular basis, and it’s dangerous to others, the way never fully cooking the chicken when making family dinners would be.

Put all of that together and you have something that is totally unfair to equate with nosepicking. Non-smokers should be sick of walking on eggshells and worrying whether they’re being too impatient or “PC”. Screw that. At some point it has to be okay to stop beating around the bush and just try to help someone quit.

It’s not a hobby.

And now to get back to the item at the very top of anyone’s list; working.


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