Smoking

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Abogado del Diablo, Aug 17, 2006.

  1. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    As a child I grew up in a house full of smokers. I was the youngest of six children. My mother smoked Winstons. My father smoked Marlboros. My brother smoked Camels. Two of my sisters smoked. From birth to age 16, I lived in a house with a constant haze of cigarette smoking that I drew in with every breath. And I didn't understand that there was anything offensive or dangerous about it, because it was all I'd ever known.

    My parents both died of smoking related illnesses when I was in my teens. I lived alone for many years while I worked and put myself through seven years of college. During that time I was very infrequently around people who were smoking. After a few years, I noticed that even the slightest scent of cigarette smoke would make me start to feel ill. If I was around it for more than a few moments I'd become nauseated and asthmatic.

    Even today, whenever I smell cigarette smoke, I can't help but start to feel sick, and have to ask the smoker to extinguish it or I have to leave the room. Even if people around me aren't bothered by smell, I can still smell it and I know what it is that I'm breathing. You can even hang an air freshener up and talk about the importance of smokers' rights, but I'll still feel sick.

    If you've never been completely immersed in cigarette smoke and watched it choke the life out of people you love, it may not bother you much at all to stand in a room full of people while they are smoking. But your telling me that it really doesn't bother you isn't going to change the way I feel. Nor will telling me it's all in my head. Because I still know what it is that I'm breathing, and I'll still feel the way I feel.
     
  2. jiii

    jiii ...

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    Is this in regard to laws on cigarette smoking or health (is there a particular issue you aim to address)?

    I, personally, do smoke cigarettes. Frankly, I wouldn't think of telling someone that was bothered by my cigarette smoke that "it was all in their head." I know that it must not be the most delightful thing for non-smokers to smell cigarettes. After all, there are times when not even I can stand the smell...and I smoke a pack a day!

    Actually, my state passed a law banning smoking in all public places not too many years ago. That was a huge change, and I'll admit that I was angry at first, and even though I understand the premise of making such a law, I suppose there is a small part of me that is still resentful. But such is life...there are many laws I don't particularly like, and the best you can really do is learn to live with them.

    Although I'm sure that, courtesy of popular knowledge, I will be lambasted for adding some of my thoughts toward the whole "anti-smoking" movement, I will submit them anyway. Might as well spice things up.

    Firstly, for those advocates of a non-smoking society that are impatient with all smokers "coming to their senses", I must point out that people have smoked tobacco or other similar plants for thousands of years. The relatively recent scare over tobacco and its health risks cannot undue a millenia-old human tradition overnight...or even over a century...or maybe even longer. Cigarettes have become part of culture, like it or not, hate it or love it. Furthermore, the mass movement in the United States to condemn them is really going to succeed with flying colors in securing them an even more pronounced position in our society.

    People do a lot of stupid things that lead them to a premature death. I don't try to deny that smoking is dangerous, but so is driving a car everyday. Skeptics, I know, will comment quite simply that driving a car is necessary while smoking is unnecessary. But, it is only unnecessary to someone that doesn't smoke!

    As far as those people that like to use scare tactics to frighten the impressionable, let me say this. The average smoker is no longer an uninformed fellow that doesn't know why he coughs when he wakes up in the morning after smoking a half pack the night before. Smokers are well-aware of the dangers, these days. In fact, even kids...that is, the kids that have sat through endless health classes at school that went on and on about the dangers of tobacco...are STILL the very kids that take up smoking every day.

    I guess an interesting question to start on this board would be:

    "Why do people continue to take up smoking year after year when popular knowledge makes it very clear that they are terrible for health?"

    The answer is not that they are ignorant of the effects of cigarettes. They know. I have my own ideas as to this, but I'd like to see what others have to say.
     
  3. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    Boy Jiii I was right with you on your argument until you pulled out the whole car analogy thing, then your logic started to tank. Smoking is still unnecessary for a smoker, you will not die if you don't smoke. Oh you might take a high powered rifle and begin picking off pedestrians but you should be okay. :D

    Seriously though, the nature of addiction is, as the twelve steppers say, a cunning and baffling thing. And addiction and the lives that addicts live is something I know a little about. I smoked for nearly twenty five years untill I finally got angry enough that a substance was jerking me around and making me do things I didn't want to do. I had to go out of my way to be tobacco, it was expensive, it slowed me down, and I am a fairly athletic person. (For an old guy) I finally found the secret of quitting and it worked for me, but others may need a different path.

    Funny thing, I can smell a cigarette a mile away now, even when I'm out on my motorcycle I can smell the cigarette from the car in front of me even at highway speeds.

    I think you are spot on about the history of addictions, people have been doing all kinds of funny things for thousands of years, and the do-gooders won'tbe able to stop them any time soon. All we can do is make sure that people who choose not to smoke don't have to be exposed to what is surely a dangerous toxin. Bad enough we expose ourselves to the stuff we do like car exhaust, Bill Orielly, you know toxic stuff :)
     
  4. jiii

    jiii ...

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    LOL...I knew the moment I typed it that my whole 'car' analogy was a bit weak. I was trying not to spend too much time composing a post, a did certainly skimp on the example there.

    What I was trying to express, with limited success, was that people that haven't come from homes of smokers or spent much time around them don't seem to understand that to someone that DOES smoke, especially someone that spends a lot of time around other smokers too, smoking is a normal, everyday habit that they enjoy more often than not.

    So no, it is not necessary like driving a car...this is true. I guess that I could adjust my statement like so:

    People don't go out of their way to worry about dying everytime they get in a car. They don't do this because it would simply be a shame to live in such fear. Likewise, smokers don't always get hung up on the health risks. It is a choice they make.

    It is only truly sad and truly a waste when a person genuinely hates cigarettes but smokes them anyway because their addicted.
     
  5. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    Sure, and it is their choice to do as they wish, and I support that part. Someone once told me that I had to honor anothers path even if it brought me sadness. But once the addiction takes hold choice begins to be a shaky argument. Like I said I know addiction and what it can do. I have seen how meth addicts live very close up, and the choices they make every day would seem utterly insane except for those in the same predicament. Legal and corporate sanctioned addictions are okay I guess because we don't have a tax structure and corporate dividends resting on the sale of other drugs.
    When I finally did quit I treated smokes like a recovering alchoholic looks a booze. One is too many and a thousand never enough. It was tough for about a week and then the cravings began to weaken. I thought.. Aha got you now you @#$%$%!! you aren't taking me down with you either you no good &*&%##@!! Actually I went through a lot of cheetohs that first week too. Oh yes and oreos, those little pretzel thingys with cheese inside, you know health food:)
     
  6. jiii

    jiii ...

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    I do see where you're going with the fact that "choice" may not always be a valid indicator in cases of addiction. That is certainly to be considered.

    In fact, I think the crux of the matter, so far as the issue with cigarettes, really rests upon this blurry line. Where is the line between the choice of the person and the choice of the addict? You've certainly hit the nail on the head, there.
     
  7. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    I grew up in the time when it was not unusual for doctors to smoke in their clinics and I recall a Camel ad that said more doctors prefer Camels than any other brand. My father was an athlete and he never smoked... He also had neumonia at an early age and nearly died so I think he put a premium on his lungs being as pure as possible.

    Anyway I smoked a little from early teens and later when around others who smoked i'd smoke too.. When I read the Attorney Generals report on the hazards of smoking it took me about two years to really be free from smoking.

    My Faith doesn't forbid smoking as such but it is considered a disgusting habit nonetheless... An interesting historical aspect to this is that the early Babis (followers of the Bab in Persia of the mid nineteenth century) were forbidden to smoke and this became known among Muslims such that they could tell a Babi if he refused to accept a smoke. Once you were tagged as being a Babi you could be summarily executed as an apostate and your property confiscated, etc. The law against smoking was later repealed by Baha'u'llah. So that's a little background on the history of smoking in my Faith.

    Here is an excerpt from our Writings:

    "The Báb, at the outset of His mission, explicitly prohibited tobacco, and the friends one and all abandoned its use. But since those were times when dissimulation was permitted, and every individual who abstained from smoking was exposed to harassment, abuse and even death --the friends, in order not to advertise their beliefs, would smoke. Later on, the Book of Aqdas was revealed, and since smoking tobacco was not specifically forbidden there, the believers did not give it up. The Blessed Beauty, however, always expressed repugnance for it, and although, in the early days, there were reasons why He would smoke a little tobacco, in time He completely renounced it, and those sanctified souls who followed Him in all things also abandoned its use."


    - Art
     
  8. jiii

    jiii ...

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    ------------------------------
    Let me first restate, for the sake of thoroughness, that I do not contend with the following statements:

    -Cigarettes have a serious potential of promoting disease in users
    -Cigarettes kill MANY, MANY people
    -Cigarettes are addictive

    This is the last time I'll mention this...I just don't want anyone to misinterpret what I say, thinking that I don't acknowledge these basic ideas that science has proven without question.
    ------------------------------

    Perhaps I might say this. I suppose that one thing which lies at the heart of my curiosity on this subject is the direction that mainstream society seems to be moving in trying to say, once and for all, that there really is absolutely nothing about cigarettes that "sane" people ought to like. I mean, is it truly realistic or sound, in the broadest sense of the term, to combat a smoking problem by trying to pound it into people's heads, and commit to law, the idea that cigarettes are, in the view of all views, truly worthless, meaningless, and destructive...and nothing else? Will not this kind of extremism succeed in making it particularly ATTRACTIVE to exactly the type of people that are most at risk for taking up smoking as an almost subconscious, or completely intentional, act of rebellion...teenagers? Perhaps...just maybe...this might underlie the reason that people tend to keep smoking even though knowledge of cigarettes harmful effects have spread far and wide.

    Are we to suggest that all the original habitual tobacco smokers of our species were loonies of antiquity whose maniacal ways have grown to poison the world and its people with practices that are apparently evil and without any redeeming quality in even a metaphysical sense? Is this really a totally realistic viewpoint?

    I just can't get by the notion that popular advice tends to paint cigarettes in the same almost propagandized fashion that America painted communism in the 50's. Is communism a particularly great thing? No, not really. But, it was not really the "evil empire" that the United States insisted. And, in fact, this idea came to harm American society in its own subtle ways...actually giving rise to paranoia politics and nation-wide scare tactics.

    I also consider my views on many United States drug laws, and find the very same argument with some of these. The United States government has, for many decades, been very comfortable with declaring, in the form of law mind you, that drugs are apparently without any redeeming quality whatsoever. They are terrible, they are destructive...they are absolutely horrendous. These laws also tend to suggest that a world without any drugs at all would be a much better world by some kind of universal standard. I do not see the logic in this idea.

    If anything, the fact is that drugs laws in the United States, no matter how stiff, have succeeded best at demonstrating that people will use drugs...all kinds of drugs...whether you tell them to or not. Whether you will send them to prison or not. Hell, if there was a death penalty enacted in the US for the use of drugs, I bet you would STILL see a massive amount of the population using them.

    This relates to cigarettes, too. In so far as I can tell, the general trend occurring in America is to move to ban cigarettes on the same fundamental grounds as other illegal drugs. Whether or not this will actually happen any time soon, or at all, I do not surely know (as cigarette companies wield a massive wallet, and America tends to be sold to the highest bidder most often). However, that is certainly the direction that the country seems to be moving both politically and legally.

    I suppose that to a certain extent, people are just going to have to realize that there is some indefinable part of human nature that will naturally make people gravitate toward the use of drugs, including tobacco...not all people, of course, but not exactly a tiny fraction. Laws cannot kill this, and oftentimes make the problem worse by driving it underground. Similarly, there is the same attitude that is beginning to form towards cigarettes.

    Every year it becomes more and more acceptable in ordinary conduct for a non-smoker to turn their nose up at smokers. More and more often they are made to feel secure in believing that as non-smokers they have the clear moral and ethical high ground, and are "obviously more intelligent than those poor, confused people" that unwittingly choose to smoke. And yet, in the same breath that smokers are needlessly pitied, they are also spitefully attacked as malevolent distributors of grisly diseases that are selfish and cruel for their choice to smoke.

    It's not that I think cigarettes are a great thing that ought to be honored for their staying power in human history. However, in a world plagued by political, economic, and ecological problems across the board, I think that cigarettes are becoming a trusty scapegoat for American self-denial...a way that people that wonder what its all coming to can comfortably point at a smoker and say," Look, there's the problem!"
     
  9. leastone

    leastone Well-Known Member

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    Nowadays, when I see a youngster flaunting a cigarette, and I feel it appropriate to caution him in a friendly manner, I would point to a car, and ask, "Do you see that car? If you see smoke coming from the engine, don't you agree that it indicates a problem?" Then I would point to a house, and say, "If we see smoke billowing from that house over there, we sure would know that there is a problem!" "So," I would conclude, "when I see smoke coming from your head, I think there might be a problem here. You go and think about that." :)

    I also smoked for more than two decades, and finally, with great struggle, in Art's quoted words, "completely renounced it, and...abandoned its use."

    I am sure that, if it were not for two realizations I had, I would never been able to let go of it, or rather have it let go of me, for it certainly had a hold on me, and like all addictions, they take over and rule.

    First, I had gained a deep sense of its utter incompatibility with holiness.

    All smokers know this deep down inside, no matter the multiple justifications they come up with, and I am sure I know them all, myself having used them, to lie to myself and put up a smoke screen before others. I have never yet seen a smoker/believer/church-goer light up during a worship service. In fact, they will put out the smoke on the doorstep before going into church, and be desperate to light up one again upon exit to immediately relieve the craving. Why is this so?

    The second great realization I had, that helped me to overcome this habit, was simply this: I could never give it up for myself. I had thrown out all the good reasons why not to smoke twenty years before, and would have a hard time persuading myself that they were still valid for me, even though I understood them all better and completely agreed with them. I had to give it up for a higher cause, for someone and something beyond myself.

    Considering my babies was a good place to start. I noticed that, smoking being that utterly selfish action it is, I could not spontaneously interact face to face with my own children, in expressions of love, affirmation, and endearment. See how many parents turn away a child's attempt for an affectionate hug with, "Wait, baby, I'm smoking," and when agitated, "Not now! Can't you see I'm smoking?" It gives smoking a value that it should never have. Add to that the million reprimands, "Don't touch!" and even more value is given to "the forbidden fruit." Right there babies commit themselves to one day engage in this "important", "adult" thing.

    And, of course, I thank God for Christ! Who can deny Him, if you really hear Him?

    When I grew up, every movie showed in almost every scene the "clean" and "noble" heroes and heroines of those days with a cigarette and a drink in hand. Those were the "cool" props of life, and generations bought into that deception. Add to that the reality of advertising that sold you an image that you chose to identify with, and you were hooked, to be a Camel man, or a Marlboro man, or perhaps something more sophisticated... How foolish is man not?

    So, as a man sows, so shall he reap. I quit smoking eighteen years ago, yet the damage was done---having sown into the flesh, I reaped corruption. Last year I suffered a heart attack and spent ten days in hospital. I noticed that the very first question any nursing sister or doctor would ask any patient coming into the cardiac ward was, "Do you smoke?" Of course, along with everybody else, I thought smoking would only affect one's lungs. Smoking, I learned, narrows the arteries, and that, my friend, will kill you.

    In complete understanding of what smokers go through, and in grateful appreciation of the deliverance Christ Jesus worked in my life, respectfully,

    Learner.
     
  10. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    This is one area in my life where I am the most blunt. I realize fully how addictive the habit is, and how hard it is to break. I've known so many people who have quit for years only to go back. And many more who have tried numerous times and failed.

    So whenever I see a kid with a cigarette I tend to encourage them to quit. And if I happen to have my kids with me I inform them, that they only have ever known one out of four Grandparents, because the other three died before they were born, from cigarettes.

    I think knowing your grandparents and knowing your grandkids is more important than this habit.

    But that is my opinion....
     
  11. cavalier

    cavalier Well-Known Member

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    Now I'm no smoker but I don't think I can buy into this.

    Churches aren't the only places where things like this happen.
    Isn't it possible that people put out their cigarettes out of consideration for the probable majority of non-smokers in the congregation? Churches aren't exactly set out with designated smoking and non-smoking sections.

    You only mention churches, what of other religions? In Taiwan people smoke in temples all the time. I have even visited one small shrine where, instead of lighting incense, people light and smoke cigarettes.

    Maybe someone can help me out here but aren't there other religions where smoking plays an important part?
     
  12. Dondi

    Dondi Well-Known Member

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    I smoked for seven years during my late teens/early twenties back in the early 80s (Gee, I feel old). Not a terribly heavy smoker, maybe half a pack to a pack a day, back when cigarettes were under a dollar. But even back then I knew damn well what smoking was doing to my lungs. But bluntly, I just didn't give sh!t. It wasn't a concern for me. I guess when you are young, you are invincible in your own eyes. Really, what it was is that it was something that I thought I wouldn't have to deal with until I hit 50.

    I had a spiritual experience with God (long story in itself, I'll not bore you here). Suffice to say, I believe I felt the Presence of God and my life went through some changes. And I developed the conviction that I was doing to my body was harming the temple of the Spirit of God.

    Trouble is, smoking is an extremely addictive habit. It was hard to quit, but I relied on God to help me. Everytime I felt like lighting up, I just prayed for His Presence to be upon me. A dose of the holy Spirit's power, instead of that death stick. And for the longest time, I was down to one cigarette a day, usually in the mornings when I first got up. That was the hardest place to be. But I finally just quit, thanks to God.

    The trade off was that I gained weight. It's amazing how much better food tastes after you quit smoking. I didn't want to glutton myself fat, but unlike cigarettes, you can't just quit food.

    In regards to cigarette smoke, I now feel sick at the slightest wiff. It's like, how did I ever like that stuff? And like Paladin, I can smell it a mile away. I guess the sense of smell, as well as the sense of taste is enhanced when one quits.
     
  13. jiii

    jiii ...

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    Perhaps somewhat indirectly, Dondi's post reminds me of something that I have been curious about for a while.

    When I was a child right up through being a teenager, I was told by my parents that they only smoked because they didn't know how bad it was for them.

    But, to be honest, I have started to feel more and more like that way of validating their use of cigarettes is pretty bogus in a certain light. I have smoked for about 6 or 7 years. I have found the following:

    -People die in fires oftentimes because they breath in too much smoke. Any adult that couldn't make that connection on a certain level with cigarettes was just plain intentionally ignoring the similarity.

    -I KNOW BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT, that only two or three years into smoking, I would've been able to determine quite easily for myself that cigarettes are VERY destructive to the body. It has to do with how you feel, how you hack and cough junk out of you lungs when you wake up in the morning, and it has to do with the vast increase in throat and sinus colds that occur amongst smokers.

    The fact that science has directly associated cigarettes to many fatal diseases is really only an extension of the simple facts of experience which any smoker that is not brain-dead should quite easily be able to determine for themselves.

    What my sentiment boils down to is this:

    Shouldn't adults be a little more insightful into their own experiences with smoking, rather than passing it off as a mistake based upon ignorance of their effects?

    It sounds to me like baby-boomers that wave this excuse around are just trying to validate their usage (quite weakly, I must say), while making the use of cigarettes today totally invalid.

    It's as if they have people believe that they smoked cigarettes EXPRESSLY BECAUSE they thought it wouldn't kill them. As if, in the "olden days" people wandered around the world looking for things to light and put in their mouths that wouldn't kill them.

    Seriously, I don't think anyone takes up smoking BECAUSE they think it won't kill them. That may be a comforting belief that reinforces their continued usage, but that's not why people start smoking.

    Any thoughts?
     
  14. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    To understand addictive behavior it is necessary to understand what addiction really is. there is a book by Dr. Gerald May entitled : "Addiction and Grace" Which explains to us laypersons how the brain begins to build neural pathways around a substance. What Dr. May found out is that these pathways can begin even with non-addictive substances, for he relates how one patient developed an addicted response to a nasal spray! Yes, it is anecdotal to a degree but I have seen it literally hundreds of times when a person will use all kinds of strategies to justify the use of the particular substance whether it is coffee, cigarettes, Meth, Marijuana or whatever. Dr. May called this "Addicted behaior" (as opposed to addictive behavior more comonly used) these behaviors could include denial, manipulation, lying, stealing, withholding, and sometimes bullying (usually to shift the focus away from their addiction)
     
  15. jiii

    jiii ...

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    In light of my posts perhaps being too long, I just want to give some of my questions toward this discussion in a more abbreviated format. I'm very interested to hear peoples opinions on these aspects, since the over-zealous, anti-smoking craze tends to bury them without a single glance...a tactic which I believe actually weakens their justifications by demonstrating that they are employing a kind of hack fix:

    =====
    1) Won't the extremist attitude developing against cigarettes (at least in America, as I can't speak for places I'm not familiar with) work to make them even MORE attractive to those who would use them out of rebellious spirit in the beginning?

    2) Shouldn't baby-boomers be a bit more realistic and lot less evasive in admitting that it was ALWAYS quite obvious that cigarettes were terrible for you? Aren't they evading the real reason(s) that they smoked? The same reasons which continue, apparently, to produce smokers just the same despite the prescence of scientific insight that the baby boomers swear they would have heeded obediently if it had been presented to them, and despite the fact that cigarette commercials have long been removed from television?

    3)
    Is this kind of movement in society really acceptable? Are we actually justified in invalidating someone's character, in general, over their choice to smoke cigarettes? I, for one, have had the pleasure of being around quite a few people that honestly saw me as almost sub-human due to the fact that I smoked...as if I was a less evolved animal.
    =====

    If you don't really see where I'm coming from here, you can refer to two of my previous postings which present these essential questions in an expanded form. I know that I'm playing the "Devil's Advocate" here, but these really are valid questions that we will eventually have to address as a society.
     
  16. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    For those that aren't aware cigarette ads in the 40's and 50's actually touted the benefits of smoking. Doctors representing that this cig or that was the most healthful...somehow they were sold the bill of goods that smoking provided healthy lungs...go figure.

    It wasn't until the 70's it seems that cigarette ads were removed from television...and warnings were put on packs of cigarettes...

    Kids today think it cool to smoke, in the 40's and 50's it was downright normal.

    Tis a trap I don't wish on anyone.
     
  17. 17th Angel

    17th Angel לבעוט את התחת ולקחת שמות

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    What doesn't bother (me, us, smokers.. whoever.) ?

    The things that can lead from smoking... No they do not bother me... Even if I were to die a smoking related death and I could still move and so on... My death bed wish? A last cigarette... Indeed it's bad for you... Fudge it... I like it. It's a choice that everyone else has got no power over on anyone but themsleves... If you don't like people smoking, avoid them... Simple.

    Not all people die young because of smoking... My gran only passed two years ago..... 102 years old. Smoked over 20 a day.... So could I say... Smoking helps you live longer? No.... Because who really knows? Smoking effects everyone differently as we are all built differently... I could die tomorrow when I am 40, 60, 70... 80...(hope I don't live that long lol...) But I don't care... I would rather live a life of doing what -I- wanted to do.. A life free... A life not restricted by what the majority think, I couldn't give a fudge what the majority think about smoking... I like it... So I will continue till the grave. :)
     
  18. cavalier

    cavalier Well-Known Member

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    Seems fair enough, I'm curious about your views on public bans. Isn't England planning to ban **** in all public buildings?
     
  19. Dondi

    Dondi Well-Known Member

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    And cigarettes as well?

    But I thought England was equal opportunity.
     
  20. cavalier

    cavalier Well-Known Member

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    oops, using the vernacular on an international forum isn't the best idea.
    The simple request, "can I bum a ***?" takes on all new proportions.
     

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