The Public Interest

Reasons to smoke

David Skinner

Summer 1998

THE indifference of smokers, though rarely noted these days, can seem infinite. A chain smoker I know once said, “I smoke so I have something to look forward to every fifteen minutes.” Along with suggesting a lot of cigarettes in a life barren of interest, he articulated the intensely blas6 philosophy of many smokers. Such an underwhelmed view can barely sustain acknowledgment of those who compare smoking to the Exxon Valdez spill or the tobacco industry to Nazi Germany.  This disconnect between the fanatical ideology of public health and the feelings of many smokers can be summed up in the cynical words of one old, devout Catholic from the parish I grew up in: “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t smoke.” Not exactly the papal view, but then again, she obviously believed that no one is going to hell for smoking or to heaven for abstaining.

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