Don’t make your ‘addiction’ my problem

Most folks who know me will tell you I’m an easygoing dude.

But I also have a pretty rigid sense of fairness and a low tolerance for bullshit, and that occasionally leads to harsh words and hurt feelings. I have complete control over only one of those outcomes, but I sincerely hope the next few paragraphs results in both.

That’s because Time, for whatever reason, found it worthwhile to edit, post and, presumably, pay for an asinine open-letter defense of e-cig smoking in public spaces from someone named Sarah Cannon.

Are vapor smokes really a big deal? Compared to ISIS and Ebola and climate change? Of course not. But if Time — a supposedly reputable publication whose online presence has become increasingly compromised by drivel — is going to clog Twitter feeds with this stuff, I’ll fritter away 10 minutes to fire off a blog about it.

So, Ms. Cannon, allow me to retort:

“After using my vape (e-cigarette) for over a year now, my body feels so much better than when I was smoking cigarettes. I can breathe! I can go up a flight of stairs without huffing for breath halfway. I can go for six months at a time without catching a nasty, lingering cough. My clothing doesn’t reek of smoke all of the time and my car actually smells nice. So, though they are far from perfect, I am enjoying the changes that not smoking cigarettes has brought to my life.”

Good for you, Sarah. Here’s to your health. That said, I don’t know you. The way I see it, whatever you want to do with your internal organs is fine by me. Still, you say you feel like a million bucks after giving up butts? That’s just great. We’re good so far.

“Funny how just about 10 years ago people were still allowed to smoke actual cigarettes in some restaurants and I didn’t see anyone walking out on their meal due to the smell coming from the smoking section. This was, in fact, the norm for decades and we all got along fine. I’m not saying it was a wonderful arrangement, but people dealt with it.”

OK, now you’ve aggravated me. See, I don’t find any humor at all in cigarette smoking in restaurants. Here’s why: I like to taste my food. The only reason I didn’t walk out when the puffing started all those years ago? Because I’d just paid for my meal, or I was really hungry, or maybe because I was freaking 12. And even if I’m a grown man, what then? Where the hell am I gonna go? Every other restaurant promised the same dining experience: trying to choke down my food through a cloud of musty ash that, until seconds ago, had actually been inside your body. Got along fine? Sure, if by “getting along” you mean I nearly dumped an ashtray or two into a complete stranger’s lunch. Yeah, just like old pals.

“I understand that for a few moments during your meal you may have a sniff of my vape that you don’t care for, but I’m sure that it isn’t as horrible as you make it sound in your rant. Life is full of mild unpleasantries that we all must deal with on a daily basis, but we can choose to deal with them or let them torment us.”

Ah, of course. It’s not you, it’s us. We’re just too sensitive, is all. Life really is full of mild unpleasantries, isn’t it? Like when my dog leaves a steaming pile on your front lawn, right Sarah? The social contract contains a few simple unwritten rules that aren’t remotely hard to follow, but why get hung up on something so mundane as common courtesy? For instance, when my sump pump belches liquid filth onto your back patio, you have two choices, Sarah: You can let it torment you or just choose to deal with it. It really is your decision.

“When I smoked cigarettes, I dealt with inconveniences due to my addiction. I would be forced to leave the company of my friends and family to go stand outdoors, like an outcast or lesser human, so that I could prevent myself from having a withdrawal meltdown. I would sit in freezing weather and torrential downpours so that people like you could enjoy your meals without the offensive and unhealthy fumes of my cigarettes. Not to mention all of the health problems that I caused myself. There was no compromise offered, I had to deal with it. And I did.”

Bless your soul, Sarah. How you made it through the hard times I’ll never know. Come rain, sleet or snow, you were always there to deliver a cancer stick to your lips — and you did so despite the crushing solitude of four minutes away from friends and family. With no compromise offered, you bore the cross of your “addiction” alone. That, friends, is what we call nobility.

“Vaping isn’t perfect, but it is a compromise. I’m doing my part by not smoking cigarettes and releasing their known carcinogens to the atmosphere, while still dealing with my addiction. I am trying to improve my health, trying to not smell like cigarette smoke all the time, and get to spend time with my loved ones as well. My intent is not to make you uncomfortable. In fact my actions are not about you at all. So I must ask that you not make them about you and respectfully let me and my vape alone.”

Alright, I can’t even keep up the satire. This bit is patently insulting. If “doing my part” amounts to Ms. Cannon not polluting the environment of a public space with carcinogens and putrid tobacco waste, congratulations: She has literally done the very least she could do for her fellow man. By the way, I just grabbed lunch at Chipotle and managed to avoid dropping a bug bomb on my way out of the place. Just spell the name right on my community service award, Rotary Club. (OK, maybe just a bit more satire.)

Here’s the deal: Growing up, my parents smoked. Most of the family smoked. Almost all of my folks’ friends smoked. The house, the car, most public settings — that nicotine haze was omnipresent. It clung to your clothes. Your hair? Infused with it. At home, the stuff changed the color of the walls.

Things changed over time, mostly because we’re all a little smarter now. Smoking is, as we all know, alarmingly unhealthy for the smoker. And for those around the smoker, it’s equally dangerous and almost universally regarded as repulsive. You want to suck on a menthol until your lungs dry up? That’s your business. Prefer to dial it down to some vapor-blowing contraption in an effort to reverse the effects on your health? Good on you.

But in either case, Ms. Cannon, you and “people like you” need to find somewhere private or in the distant outdoors to handle your business, because it wasn’t any of us who got you tied up in your torrid love affair with Joe Camel. We’re just trying to breathe over here.

It’s your addiction. You deal with it.

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