Why smoke? Smokers explain their choice

Emeline Root

A West Ottawa senior gets in his car after school to head home. As he turns onto Riley, he fulfills his daily routine, pulling out a cigarette from the glove box and lighting it.

Ultimately, smoking kills. In the meantime, it eats away at smokers’ wallets, and makes their clothes reek. All smokers know this. When confronted with these facts, West Ottawa smokers provided reasons why they continue smoking.

One student revealed that he just doesn’t care about the consequences of smoking. He and his friends frequently smoke to pass the time. “Okay, first of all I don’t give a [explicit] about when I die. I could die because of something other than smoking. It doesn’t matter if I die at 47 or 85… it’ll happen regardless of if I smoke or not.” But the student’s body language showed differently. He never made eye contact for long, he glanced around the room continuously, and fidgeted with his hands. Clearly, he was not comfortable saying he doesn’t care about when he dies.

Even the cost of smoking don’t matter to this individual. If he smokes at least a pack per week for the whole year, that’s roughly $416. He explained why the cost isn’t important to him, saying,  “Some people spend their money on nice clothes and fancy dinners. I spend mine on drugs and Taco Bell. It’s just about how you prioritize your money.” He gave a simple solution to his clothes and breath smelling: if someone doesn’t like how he smells, they can stay away.

But, this individual represents only some smokers. Not every smoker is as careless about smoking. In fact, there are some smokers who are ashamed of it. “For all of those reasons, I wish I didn’t smoke, but it’s a lot more complicated than that,” a WO junior said. Like the other student, this individual started smoking because his friends smoked. It was a social thing, something to do to pass the time. “I was never pressured to do it. I chose to, but now I’m dependent on it. Smoking helps calm me down when I’m anxious.”

Unlike the careless smoker, the stigma against smoking hit home hard; he even wants to quit. “Just walking around downtown smoking, I get so many dirty looks. People just assume the worst of you. I hate it so much,” the individual said. But he doesn’t let the negativity get the best of him. “I used to smoke at least half a pack a day, but now I’m down to about four [cigarettes a day]. Hopefully soon I’ll be down to two or less, and then I’ll quit completely,” the individual said.

Whatever the smoker’s reason for grabbing that pack of Marlboros, it doesn’t change the reality. Cigarettes are deadly, they’re expensive, and they stink.