Behest of the West: We don’t look cool anymore

From tough guys to romantics to greasers to hipsters to jocks, there is no demographic that hasn’t seen a movie idol look cool smoking.

If you’re a smoker you’ve heard this before but it can’t be heard enough times; smoking will very likely kill you and I.

Cigarettes are lethal. We know that’s true yet we do it anyway. We do it largely because Dirty Harry did it, Holly Golightly did it, Danny Zuko did it, Tyler Durden did it and Rocky Balboa did it.

From tough guys to romantics to greasers to hipsters to jocks, there is no demographic that hasn’t seen a movie idol look cool smoking.

And smoking absolutely did look cool. That’s a fact. Anyone who denies that fact is pandering but we need to face the reality that that fact is dead. Smoking hasn’t looked cool since the late-1990’s.

It just looks stupid now. We look stupid. We look stupid because we’re publicly consuming a product that tells us it’s going to kill us and shows us photos of exactly how it’s going to do it.

We all have different reasons for needing to quit, which is to say we all have different reasons for wanting our lives to continue a while longer.

We have kids, we have parents, we have friends, we have pets we have jobs, duties and responsibilities that will be kiboshed if we fulfill our smoking prophecy and kill ourselves.

It’s going to be extremely hard to do but somehow you and I need to stop.

Here’s my plan.

I have managed to cut myself down to one pack per day, that’s 20 cigarettes, so if you’re following me you’ll need to adjust your algorithm accordingly based on your own consumption.

I’m going to pick a day where I don’t smoke. Pick a day, any day. I’m going with Wednesday because that tends to be the least stressful day of my workweek.

That might mean I need to lock myself away like Dr. Jekyll to decrease the damage done by Mr. Hyde because who knows what kind of Hulk I turn into without nicotine, but I’m going to do it.

Every Wednesday, I’m going to take the roughly $14.25 I save from not buying a pack of smokes and donate $10 to Cops for Cancer and give the rest to my son who loves collecting change in his piggy bank.

I will do this because it is an investment in my future. Jr. will soon be old enough to understand that blowing his money on Nerf gear is awesome and not only will I have given him the financial means to get an impressive collection going by then, but I’ll still be alive to Nerf out with him. Nerf, unlike smoking, remains very cool.

Eventually I’ll cut another day out of the week and by that time my daughters will have piggy banks and they too will discover Nerf and I will be alive when that happens.

I’ll keep knocking off days until my life becomes a smoke-free Nerf paradise.

What you do with the money you save is your business; the point is we’re going to save it and we’re going to save ourselves.

We can’t make cigarettes illegal because that would have a prohibition-like effect and birth an unnecessary black market that would accomplish nothing. What we can do is realize we’re killing ourselves and hurting those around us. We need to stop it.

The non-smokers have clearly waged war against us. Ucluelet recently passed a bylaw that is a clear condemnation of smokers. Parks, beaches, trails, sidewalks, you name it; all off limits to us.

They have good reason for this quarantine.

Cigarette butts topped the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup’s 2015 Dirty Dozen list for litter with a disgustingly whopping 409,417 butts picked up by volunteers. Food wrappers came second with 93,129. Not exactly a close race.

We, the smokers, can’t be trusted to find a trash can and that’s a good enough reason alone to not invite us to their parties but that’s not the most important reason, this is: according to America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, second-hand smoke has killed roughly 2.5 million non-smokers since 1964.

We’re murdering them.

They are right to wage war and I say we fire up the white flag.

Dirty Harry, Holly Golightly, Danny Zuko, Tyler Durden and Rocky Balboa were fictional characters. We aren’t. Our lives extend past their movie credits. Let’s stop killing ourselves.

We don’t look cool anymore.


Andrew Bailey is the editor of the Westerly News. You can find his weekly column ‘Behest of the West’ on page 4 of our print edition every Wednesday.

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