Lighten up and light up, cigs are still cool

Nick Hurm and Nick Hurm

Bear with me, this is going somewhere. In the last 50 years or so, cigarettes have gotten a pretty bad rap. Before then, no one outside of the tobacco industry really understood the negative health effects of smoking. I guess no one noticed that they were dying of lung cancer at age 70 because they had already died of tuberculosis when they were 35. It was a different time, and all the cool kids and their 10-year-old sisters were lighting up outside the log cabin, guilt-free.

Smoking was an assertion of our willful manipulation of the forces of nature and a metaphor for the very process of thought. Indeed, many great thinkers were also smokers, from Jean-Paul Sartre to James Dean. Even J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved Harry Potter books, was a smoker until she quit and became a Nicorette chewing gum addict (that is actually true).

Despite this, much of society has turned against tobacco products. Smoking has been tied to cardiovascular disease, stroke, birth defects, bronchitis, cataracts, basically every form of cancer and, most frighteningly, impotence. I’m not going to argue that smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer (that will be my next column), but I still think that despite these minor drawbacks, smoking is good for humanity.

Cigarettes undeniably bring people together. Think of freshman year. You are walking around alone like a schmuck, looking for the Sharpe Refectory, pretending like you know what you’re doing. Some self-assured looking New Yorker in vintage converse, dark blue jeans and a black T-shirt comes up to you asking for a light. Suddenly you have a new friend, and he might even be rich. Meanwhile, the non-smoker is doomed to an awkward conversation with some kid from the Perkins sub-free hall about the Brown Christian Fellowship.

Or, you’re standing outside of a frat party, trying to escape the smell of beer, sweat and chauvinism, and a pretty girl next to you lights up. If you didn’t smoke before, you better start now. Attractive women are hard to come by on campus, and it would be ridiculous to let a lifetime of addiction and an early death come between you and a chance at a night of uncomfortable sex (and months and months of bragging to your roommate).

Smoking isn’t just good for smokers, it is also great for non-smokers. If you are reading this article on an elliptical in the Bear’s Lair, scoffing at my ignorance, know two things: 1) Cigarettes have benefited you far more than anyone who actually smokes them. 2) I can see you from my room in Grad Center (also actually true). There is no greater feeling of moral superiority than that felt by a non-smoker.