Monday, October 01, 2007

Life, Liberty And The Pursuit Of Smoke

Beginning today, a new law takes effect in MN requiring bars and restaurants across the state to ban smoking inside their establishments. Now all Minnesotans are free to destroy their livers without the additional fear of poisoning their lungs as well. As someone who makes the occasional attempt to sing his way through an evening at said smoke-filled bars, I for one, am relieved. Hopefully, I will no longer be forced to spend my post-gig days on a steady diet of lemon tea and cough drops.

Not surprisingly the “smoker’s rights” crowd is heralding this as an affront to the basic civil liberties upon which this country was founded. Never mind that smoking itself has not been outlawed just the privilege (not the right) of doing so inside a building. Nonetheless the Chickens Little’s are predicting dire consequences for the hospitality industry. To hear them tell it, the fate our entire economy hangs in the balance. How New York City managed to survive after similar restrictions were implemented in that city apparently remains a mystery.

However, in the spirit of congeniality I offer this short story written by Steve Martin which first appeared in the book Cruel Shoes. May it soothe the savage lungs.

The Smokers

He lit the cigarette and smoked it down to the filter in one breath. He silently thanked the Winston Company for being thoughtful enough about his health to include a filter to protect him. So he lit up another. This time he didn’t exhale the squeaky-clean filtered smoke, but just let it nestle in his lungs, filling his body with that good menthol flavor. Some more smokers knocked on his door and they came in and all started smoking along with him.

“How wonderful it is that we are all smoking”, he thought.

Everybody smoked and smoked and after they smoked they all talked about smoking and how nice it was that they were all smokers and then they smoked some more.

Smoke, smoke, smoke. They all sang “Smoke That Cigarette” and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.” Then the smokers smoked one more cigarette and left him alone in his easy chair, about to relax and enjoy a nice quiet smoke. And then his lips fell off.

P.S. On Saturday we will bury FrankenKristin’ uncle. He died last week of lung cancer after 60+ years of smoking.


Superstar said...

The ban started in PHX on May 1st. The irony is that that starts our slow season, so owners were all crying boo hoo that the smoking ban was the reason for the Loss in sales.

I can say that I am saving over 80 dollars a month not having to buy the allergies meds. YEAAH
~claps hands~
All in all, everyone has adjusted.

ADW said...

In Ohio, the ban started this past April.....

mabel said...

Ours was about a year and a half ago. Much better!

I quit many years ago as I finally figured out it didn't make me look as cool as my 14 year old self thought it did. Unfortunately, my learning curve is pretty flat so it took about 14 years to figure out the whole coolness thing. Bummer, I know I did LOTS o' damage in 14 years of hip coolness. At least my lips didn't fall off.

So sorry about FrankenKristin’s uncle.

I'm looking for Omanhene. I am always looking for new obsesssions!

OneEar said...

Sorry about your uncle-in-law. However, you must admit that 60 years of smoking adds up to a pretty long life. Assuming he didn't start until he was at least a toddler, he outlived the life-expectancy of the average American born in the 1930s.

Another relevant bit I recall from Steve Martin was the "Mind if I smoke?" "No, mind if I fart? It's a habit of mine. Especially after sex I really get the urge to light one up...etc"

Sven said...

Oneear: True enough. And yet, since I've known him (15 years) its been a never ending struggle with lung related health problems. The last few years were spent alternating between hits of oxygen and Marlboro Reds, he was so addicted. Finally, he could simply no longer breath. All in all a pretty miserable, and preventable, way to go.

Kim Ayres said...

The ban started here in Scotland well over a year ago and it's fantastic. Each Wednesday I go along to a local folk session - take along an instrument and get a free pint. I used to come away stinking like an ashtray, but these days it's great. Wish they'd done it 20 years ago.

Mind you, 20 years ago I was a smoker, so I'd have probably complained bitterly about my freedom to smoke...

heartinsanfrancisco said...

There has been such a ban in California for several years, but interestingly, I notice that more people are smoking again, especially (and most chillingly) young ones.

I'm sorry about FrankenKristin's uncle. I just don't get how people can smoke in this day and age, knowing how dangerous it is to themselves and all around them.

We are about to have a new law prohibiting smoking in cars if a child is present, but it will be hard to enforce. I grew up with second hand smoke, and I really wish people would finally wise up.