Skip to main content

See also:

Why I Choose to Smoke

People look astonished when I tell them I've tried for years to start smoking
People look astonished when I tell them I've tried for years to start smoking
Photo and photoediting by Cynthia Norris-Brooks

Why do I smoke? Because I choose to, is the simple answer. Why do I choose to smoke? That is a much more interesting question. In truth, I have tried to start smoking for almost thirty years, but sometimes its really hard to remember to do it, so mostly I smoke socially. When friends smoke, I join in, so that I can experience the camaraderie. During parties, going outside for a smoke break can be a polite way to have a private conversation. At work, chatting in the "smoke shack," is often a way to meet people I wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet any other way. Occasionally it's a great excuse to go outside and escape from discussions that have taken a downward turn, or to escape from political diatribes before I say something that will only dig me in deeper. And many parents enjoy five minutes alone without the kids.

When I'm alone, I almost always forget to smoke, unless I happen to see a pack of cigarettes. Then, unless its too cold, rainy, or icy outside, I like to sit out on the deck and enjoy a good smoke. Sometimes I read, sometimes I play on my phone, and sometimes I just sit and think about the tobacco leaves on old government buildings, Thomas Jefferson, or J.R.R. Tolkien and Gandalf, and how awesome it would be to cultivate a wise, professor-like, wizardly image- except that women just can't pull that off. It just comes across as weird. Which is too bad, because pipe tobacco smells heavenly delicious. Clove cigarettes are nice, too, but a bit rough, and although they taste great, make me cough. I've also always enjoyed the smell of secondhand cigarette smoke. I know I'm alone on that one, but as a kid I really loved the smell of gasoline, too. Conversely, I detest the smell and taste of cigars. Many people enjoy cigars, but I find the smell horrific. There are many other things to smoke, too. Marijuana is now a legal option, and I smoke it occasionally just to exercise my rights as a Washington State resident, if for no other reason. There are other reasons, though; like social bonding, and spiritual expansion. Hops are an interesting choice, as smoking them produces the same sedative effect as drinking beer without the alcohol. Mint is brisk and refreshing, and adding various dried flowers and vanilla leaf to ordinary tobacco can make some unique flavors, sort of like smoking your herbal tea. Doing so makes me feel connected to my ancestors, and I enjoy thinking about all the people of the past and what they liked to smoke.

People often tell me, during one of those smoke breaks, about how much they would love to quit. I'm not sure why. Usually they say it with a whine in their voices; I think it's just common ordinary complaining with a politically correct bent. In reality, they don't want to give up the taste, the social aspect, or the five minutes alone on the porch without the kids. When people try to tell me I should quit smoking, I find it almost rather funny. They clearly don't know me very well if they think that! More often, it is just an opener for their self-righteous speeches on how great they are, how bad smoking is, how they quit smoking, or some similar diatribe of a related nature. I pride myself on never having lit into one of them about the many vices they could abstain from, although I have indulged in some historical enlightening about Colonial America and tobacco. If they continue lecturing me, especially about the medical effects (of one or two cigarettes a day? Opening the woodstove door puts more smoke in my face) I occasionally enlighten them about how tobacco is the second T in the BRAT diet. If I'm away from home with diarrhea and don't have Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, or Tea around, Tobacco can dry up a wicked problem long enough to function or at least go home. Let them put that in their pipes and smoke it! Ha ha ha...