It's funny how a major vice can be looked at/viewed/considered with such diverse opinions, yet for the most part, has been portrayed in a (mostly) positive-to-neutral light, with shades of hypocriscy thrown in for good measure.
Now I'm sure you're asking this blogger, "How in the world can smoking be portrayed in positive light? Are you mad?"
Frankly, no. But before I answer part one of the question, let me give you a very brief background dump.
I am a non-smoker, although I did try it when I was a teenager (really smart since I have asthma). Never got addicted, which made it a helluva lot easier to quit. I've had friends who were smokers, and for the most part we got along fine. I've had a few late family members who were smokers, of at least one who passed away from cancer that was related to smoking. I do not push my views on others and although I am somewhat hypersensitive to smoke, that's more due to working in smoke free buildings for the better part of 20 years than anything else.
Now, to elaborate, I am not mad when it comes to tobacco. While I don't smoke, I do have some fond memories of tobacco in my lifetime. For example, my next door neighbor was a hardcore pipe smoker, so I got to know almost instantly whenever he was outdoors. When I used to deliver the morning newspaper, there was an older gentleman who drove down my street smoking a big cigar. He would drive down my street at the exact same time every day, so it was easy to tell whether or not I was running behind with my deliveries.
And like a certain segment of the population, I do enjoy the aroma of a good quality cigar, as well as good quality pipe tobacco. I also feel that when a person smokes a good quality cigar, they give off an aura of self-confidence that can drift into arrogance. Which is why I will sometimes write a scene or two that features my characters smoking quality cigars (usually with Connecticut tobacco, which is a cut above most domestic tobaccos).
I do differentiate between cigars and cigarettes, because for the most part (in my opinion), cigarettes fill a necessary junkie-style fix. Feel the same way about chew as well, And above all, cigars give you better bang for your buck, because you get quality over quantity all the time.
However, there lies the hypocrisy.
One of the ways that all 50 states set their budgets is an over-reliance of the so-called "sin tax", which in this particular case, is heavy taxation on tobacco. In Connecticut, the state minimum for a pack of non-generic/non-Indian cigarettes, after you factor in the various taxes, is roughly $8.75, not including sales tax. So if you're a cigarette smoker in Connecticut, to buy a carton of cigs will cost you roughly a week's salary, which is roughly $100.
To put that in proper perspective, when I started working grunt retail in 1986, the price of a pack of cigarettes was $1.25+tax. When I left grunt retail in 2001, the price per pack was about $2.75+tax and a carton of smokes would run you about $25+tax.
Now, most states have anti-smoking programs, and some, like New York, feature some seriously depressing PSA's to nudge you in the direction of quitting. Problem is, they and everyone else, doesn't really want you to quit. The more smokers that quit, the more the budgetary bottom line gets destroyed. Less smokers equals less taxes collected which equals less revenue. And since most states are purely incapable of performing fiscal restraint (mine is notorious for that), you know that having lots of ex-smokers is a very bad thing. Ex-smokers means raising taxes yet again.
Bottom line: smoking, while not good for your health one bit, is good for your economic well being. And because it's good for your economic well being, you know damn well that states are going to find ways to recruit the younger generation to smoke, thus filling up those financial coffers yet again.
So this realist says, if you're gonna smoke, spend your money on good quality cigars. Less habit forming and it makes you like you got some brain cells in that noggin of yours. Because as you know, quality trumps quantity, and in today's world, quality is the name of the game.
(c) 2015 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved.