Why Do People Still Smoke?

I don't know why, but I just can't get my mind around the fact people still smoke cigarettes. I suppose for people who have been doing it their whole lives it's hard to stop, but how is it, with the information available today (and crammed down your throat from an early age), do people suffer through the pain of that first cigarette and keep smoking?

It's not an education issue. I've been out of college for over 10 years, so I think it's safe for me to say for the duration of my life is at least 30 years where people have been taught in school not to smoke because, well, it will kill you. And it's not like that's open to debate or interpretation - smoking will, eventually, kill you. Lung cancer, emphyzema, something else - you will die from smoking.

Ever since I can remember this was taught to us in school, from the youngest age. I can only figure my class in first or second grade or whenever wasn't the first to be given this knowledge, so there are likely people older me who likewise have gone their entire lives being told smoking will kill you. Granted, I know it's not everyone, but I'm willing to bet half or more of the population was taught that from a young age. The other half of the population? Well, unless they live under a rock they know it too. And, quite possibly, it might have been broadcast under rocks too - the smoking-is-bad groups are very thorough.

Portland State University isn't far from my day job, so on nice days I'll sometimes take a lunchtime stroll through the area of downtown Portland. At any given time hundreds of PSU students will be out on the street, going to and from classes or work or coffeeshops. And you know what kills me? How many of them have smokes in their hands. Are you kidding me? This is the next generation of workers?

As an employer I wouldn't hire someone who smoked, especially someone young (does that qualify as discrimination? not sure). Besides the fact smokers end up with more sick days, it says something about a person's intelligence. Again, I'm older than these adults and I have learned my entire life smoking is bad, so I think it's a safe assumption they have as well. And they do it anyway. Doesn't that say something about a person?

No, it's not anti-establishment or even remotely cool - it's plain stupidity. If a person is going to be that idiotic about their own health, how could I trust them to make the right decisions as an employee?

Do I hate smoking? Personally, yeah. I won't say I don't think cigarettes should be erased from the planet, but at the same time if people want to do it and be idiots, I'm not going to say they can't. Just don't smoke around me. I'll freely agree with any legislation that restricts smoking in public areas because it literally makes me nauseous (this makes international travel problematic - always tradeoffs).

I hate walking down the street behind someone with a smoke in their hand - I'll either speed up and get past as soon as I can or I'll cross the street, find another route. It drives me crazy when I'm driving on a nice spring day, with the windows down and fresh air rolling into the car, and the car in front of me is being driven by a smoker. Great. Thanks.

Smoke all you want on your own time in your own space, but don't impose it on me. I know and understand what smoking (and secondhand smoke) will do to a person - I want nothing to do with it. And don't even get me started on how a lot of smokers (I know not all) seem to think a cigarette butt tossed from a moving vehicle doesn't count as burning material.

Would I be out of line to yell at someone for tossing a butt? Is it really that hard to put it out and find a trash can? I mean, if my dog craps on the sidewalk, I don't leave that.

I just want to ask people, what are you thinking? Why did you start smoking despite the knowledge it will kill you? I mean, none of that is a surprise, right? So why begin in the first place? (I understand it can be difficult to quit, but the easiest way is to not start in the first place.)

Am I off base here? Am I alone in my puzzlement? Do other people think about these things?

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