Smoking has pros and cons, the habit is not all bad

“Write about what you know” is advice that I have heard quite often as a journalism major and a creative writing minor. So, I thought for a while and decided to write on something that plagues me everyday and has for the past four and and a half years: smoking. Smoking is a topic that almost everyone has an opinion about. Being a smoker myself, I am going to try to offer some pros and cons to the nasty habit. There are several pros to smoking that people often ignore because of the health risks associated with the so-called cancer sticks.

I will start off by letting people know the benefits that come along with the habit.

1. First off, I lived in the same residence hall for two and a half years, Kohl Hall, where I met many of my friends and late night buddies down by the smoker’s benches. Although they have made changes to the building (bad ones in my opinion) they managed to keep the original smoker’s benches that hold many memories for the people who used to live in Kohl. I can remember many late nights out by those benches staying up with my friends, doing last- minute papers and other assignments that would end up being all-nighters. Whatever we were up for, though, it never failed; there were always people out at the Kohl Hall smoking benches — even at 2 a.m.

In addition to the late nights, I can remember back to my first week at college. Being a senior, it was a few years ago. The smoker’s benches became my hangout spot, even on the first day on my own. Like most students who do not let their parents know they smoke their freshman year, I waited until my parents left the parking lot to go light up a cigarette. That is when I met some of the people who are, still some of my best friends.

2. Smoking has made an impact in my college career in choosing a roommate. Although most of the time I would check the box that said “I am a non-smoker and would like to be placed with a non-smoker” on the housing forms (due to my parents looking them over), I was lucky enough to get placed with a another smoker during my sophomore year. It is much easier to have a roommate who smokes if you are a smoker.

First of all, whenever you want to go out for a “square” you almost always have someone who is willing to go out with you. If you are both smokers, you do not have to worry about your roommate complaining their clothes stink because of your habit or that you are making the room smell. Smoking can be a form of common interest.

3. In my opinion, smokers tend to be more generous. I am not saying that other people are not generous, but hear me out. Among people who are in the “smokers alliance” or in the “smoker crowd” there tends to be a circle of giving and receiving. When someone is out of smokes, other smokers know what it is like and are more than willing, most of the time, to give a stranger a cigarette. I have even run into some people who were willing to give me their last smoke. I know this sounds minor, but for a smoker to be willing to give someone their last cigarette is a very big deal (fellow smokers know what I’m talking about). Also, there have been many times when my friends (smokers and non-smokers) have lent me money to buy a pack of smokes when I was out.

4. The last pro I will mention is the idea that smoking can keep you thin. It is a proven fact that smoking speeds up the body’s metabolism making it easier for people to maintain their weight. I’m not saying that people who smoke two to three packs a day will lose weight. It does help to maintain your current body weight. Now that I have mentioned some of the benefits of the habit, I will try to go into some of its negative aspects. You may have already heard some things I will mention but it is necessary to correct some of the myths that people believe are true.

1. Many people believe that smoking is purely a mental addiction. However, I can verify that this is not true. For smokers that have smoked for a while (almost four years ago) trying to quit is not simply a mind game. Physical withdraws happen many times when individuals try to “kick the habit.” People often experience headaches, stomach pains, dizziness, fatigue and other symptoms. If it was simply a mind game it would not be as hard to quit. Some people also think that it is the idea that smokers need something in their hand or in their mouths. This is also not the case. If this was the case smokers would simply eat more. Granted, chewing gum or sucking on a sucker does help in the quitting process (so I’ve heard).

2. As mentioned previously, smoking does increase the metabolism, making it easier to maintain your body weight. But, at the same time, it makes it harder for people who are smokers to do any sort of strenuous exercise. People who smoke a lot often get out of breath or cough after doing any form of physical activity. 3. One of the big factors that weighs into smoking is the financial aspect. One day I actually sat down and figured it out. I smoke about a pack to a pack and a half a day. I spend somewhere around $220 on smoking in one month. This is for the people who buy the name brands such as Camels or Marlboros. The habit can get expensive and will put people in debt, not only to themselves, but also to their friends if they constantly ask to bum money to buy cigarettes. However, it is like any other habit, if you really want to smoke you will find a way to get some money, which is not always good. I admit that one day that I was out of smokes I actually thought about selling some of my possessions on eBay. Just like any habit, people can get carried away.

4. One of the most obvious downfalls to smoking is the health risk. However, I have to say that I really get tired of people saying “you know that’s bad for you?”

I just want to go up and smack those people. I always think to myself “Really? I just though the surgeon general was kidding when he put those labels on there.” You have to love it when people tell you things you already know.

At least if you are going to tell someone that something is bad for them, do it in a creative way. Like go up to a smoker and pull out a lung full of tar (like in “Clerks”). Well, that might be stretching it, but don’t tell me what I already know. My brain is full enough with useless stupidity. The way I look at it is the time I am taking off my life by smoking is the time that I would be in the hospital hooked up to machines. If I am in that condition, pull the plug anyhow. I understand that smoking will get me to that point quicker. However, I don’t stop fat people from eating or alcoholics from drinking.

Do people understand that caffeine is a drug too? What about all those coffee drinkers who line up at the Carnation Cafe in the morning?

They are feeding speed to their body. So what is the difference? Granted, coffee is not as bad as cigarettes. But caffeine can have long term effects as well. So, if I quit cigarettes, maybe other people can quit their “joe.”

There you have it. I presented my case, both good and bad. My advice is to let people do as the wish. If smoking makes people happy, don’t get after them. Everyone has their habits, some worse than others, but let the smokers be.

The way I look at it, the Bible says not to judge. So lay off.