Commentary: Health risks outweigh nicotine nostalgia

Ball & Chain

Jacob Parker

[email protected]

Smoking isn’t just an addiction, habit or lifestyle. It’s a hefty ball and chain that’s always attached to your fingers and lungs. 

I smoked from the age of 15 to a few months after I turned 21. At roughly a pack a day, at 20 cigarettes per pack, I inhaled somewhere around 43,800 cigarettes—not including leap years or the nights I was too drunk to care or remember how much I smoked. At roughly $5 a pack, since I rarely smoked cheap tobacco, I spent an estimated $10,950—also not including leap years, drunk nights or the cost of innumerable lost lighters. 

Seeing that typed out in front of my computer screen feels incredibly shitty—the things I could’ve done with that money! Sure, I couldn’t vacation in Rome and have Italian men feed me grapes or anything. But $10,000 could buy me a pretty slick outfit from Bergdorf Goodman and an expensive spa day. I have to take a moment. 

Whew—okay! The purpose of this isn’t meant to sound preachy. Or at least, only a little preachy. With the smoking task force, we all need to get used to the new adjustments on campus for better or worse. 

Personally, it’s easily the most regrettable decision I have ever made. Don’t get me wrong though— I LOVED cigarettes. Even still, after 121 days having not bought a pack, I have an intense passion and desire for a long and harsh drag of a Marlboro Red 100. 

It’s ridiculous how delicious cigarettes are. The “morning” cigarette. The “after food” cigarette. The “I’m driving” cigarette. The “I’m so pissed off I just need to smoke” cigarette. The “social” cigarette. The list goes on and on. 

It’s also ridiculous how many poisons are in them, and how tired it makes you. Personally, I was most disgusted by the dark mucus and occasional blood that was speckled in my sink after morning hacking fits. As a smoker though, I had the “hand me a cancer stick” mind-set. I knew how vile they were, but the nostalgia and the addiction kept me from giving it up.

I think my body just got to a point where it couldn’t take anymore. This behemoth of a hill we’ve built the university on was nothing but a kick in the  lung every day. Then again, so was walking up a flight of stairs. I felt like shit all of the time, even when I was fine. 

Finally, I just quit and tried another alternative. I’m still hooked on my vaporizer, or “e-cig”— whatever you want to call it, it’s not the same. But it works. 

I’ll take a puff of a cigarette every once in awhile and it’s a quick reminder of why I gave it up. Now that I’m so far out, the toxins and poisons send me into an instant sickness. 

If you want to smoke cigarettes, by all means, do your thing honey-boo. This is a merely a call to awareness. Awareness concerning your own health, the health of the community and the other known potential impacts of smoking on both. 

The stench really is bad though, you can’t argue that. I never noticed how bad my closet smelled until I quit, and it’s like Febreeze only makes the scent more stale. I can only imagine what my breath must have been like.