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What a drag

April 03, 2007|by E.L. SYVERSON

Rant

For years, there have been two ways to describe people. For years, there have been two places to sit in a restaurant, neither of them being a chair or the floor. For years, these two ways of describing a person or place have battled for the position of dominance.

To smoke or not to smoke? That is the question I have for the generation that is supposed to save the world. (That's us, guys!) When we were little kids, in the winter, we would press our fingers to our lips and pull them away as we exhale, our breath carried away on the wind. Smoking has been advertised as something everyone enjoys: being cool.

Despite what the anti-smoking campaign says, smoking does make you look cool. And why wouldn't it? In the movies, who is more enticing: the rebel with a cigarette hanging from his lips, or the kid next to him with a stupid, sans-cigarette smile? In the past 60 years, prominent figures in movies and the media have commonly smoked cigarettes. Humphrey Bogart. James Dean.These men are idols in the eyes of Americans - largely for their reserves of cool.

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They were diamonds in the rough, and they were larger than life.

Fire up a cigarette.

It's easy to overlook the poisonous chemicals you breathe into your lungs and pumped into your bloodstream when you're getting that attention you crave.

Take a drag.

But what about when cigarettes become the thing you crave? And that craving becomes more and more insatiable? And when the attention you get for smoking comes from a doctor with a morose expression on his face and a scan of your lungs in his hand.

Inhale. Hold it in. Savor the taste.

The way you smell and taste has been permanently altered, hasn't it? The smell of burnt tobacco never seems to leave, because that craving always returns and you have to feed it. After a while, there will no longer be a will to control it.

Exhale.

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