By Jamie Kanter
Brown lungs are about as cool as brown underwear
There are a couple of commercials that I see every now and again that bring me this message. While I find them somewhat juvenile (after all, they are targeted at youngsters), they present a powerful message about the dangers of smoking. I'm just not sure if we college students are listening.
Smoking seems to be the coolest thing since Spuds McKenzie. Everyone is out there puffing away on their cancer sticks, flaunting the fact that they are privileged enough to belong to the persecuted minority of Smokerland. I prefer the quiet sanctity of Longevityville, but I suppose each of us has to make that choice for ourselves.
What I would like to mention to those of you who do choose to smoke (for whatever reason) is that President Clinton has just put a hold on that huge tobacco deal we've heard so much about. Instead, he has chosen to propose a new law. This one is even worse for those of you with money troubles.
The president wants to raise the price of cigarettes by $1.50 per pack in the next ten years. I think we should go even higher.
Crazy, you say. Kill him, we must. How dare he, you scream. Well, I'll explain.
I have a mother and a stepfather living about 20 minutes away. Actually, I should say that they are dying about 20 minutes away. That's right, both are smokers and they are attached to their habit. They dig the sweet smell of a long drag in that hot Tucson sun. They revel in the taste of that first rush of nicotine after dinner. They just love smokin'. I don't.
I don't appreciate walking into the house and being attacked by the overwhelming stench of stale cigarette smoke. I don't like breathing in the noxious fumes as I try to grab some Fritos from the pantry. And I sure as hell don't need any more black goop entering my otherwise healthy pulmonary system.
You see, I am one those radical types who enjoys being able to breathe. Call me revolutionary if you must, but my body sort of likes to take deep breaths of natural air. I realize that pollution has infected much of the air and I know that our air is not as clean as it could be, but that does not mean that smokers should compound the problem.
Just a damn minute, you're saying to yourself, if I smoke in a properly designated area or outside, I've done nothing wrong. According to the law, I'll give you that one. According to common courtesy, we have a problem.
Smoking is offensive to a lot of people, much like farting. However, there are no laws against farting except those mandated by common courtesy. For instance, it is perfectly legal for an individual to fart in a car with its windows closed. It is also perfectly legal for someone to fart and to waft the odor toward others. These legal defenses hold little weight when we examine how we should treat our fellow human beings, though. Only the most sadistic, Lex Luthor-esque kind of person would invade someone else's space with his offensive scent. But that's what smokers do, inadvertently or not.
So, it's clear that I hate smoking, but now many of you are asking why I would support such a drastic proposal as that made by our commander in chief. My economics professor would probably be the first to tell me that a dramatic price increase might not be economically wise, that the president probably has not carefully examined the ramifications of this policy decision. Many others would tell me that the president's new agenda is a blatant attack on smokers and their individual freedoms. They're probably right, but I still support the deal.
I like the proposal because it's got something we in the business like to call "balls." It does not kowtow to the mighty smoking lobbyists, nor does it worry about offending the delicate sensibilities of the puffing masses. Instead, it demands that smokers pay a higher price for their carcinogenic luxury. It shows them that we non-smokers will not simply stand by while our fresh air is overrun by toxins and chemicals (except those produced by our cars, damn it). This is where it ends.
However much I hate smoking, I would like to wish all you smokers out there good luck in your future endeavors. I hope that this anti-smoking policy doesn't bankrupt you as you pay through the roof for every precious drag. I know that the nicotine has you hooked and I know that your addiction is beyond your control. I just don't need your foulness in my lungs.
You keep your butt out of my face and I will keep mine out of yours.
Jamie Kanter is a senior majoring in Spanish and psychology.