It was in the news recently that the federal government plans to place new warnings on cigarette packages to discourage smoking. These warnings are supposed to come in the form of nasty-looking photographs depicting the hazards of smoking.
One of the pictures shows a dead guy on a slab down at the morgue. Presumably, he died of lung cancer or some other horrific disease associated with smoking. Another one shows a guy with rotten teeth while still another shows some old lady lighting up around a newborn baby.
If the federal government really wants to discourage smoking, they should try to catch potential smokers at a much earlier age. I think I may have the solution.
If you were to make every kid under the age of say, 10 to smoke a pack of unfiltered cigarettes as fast as they possibly can — one right after the other — that might very well do the trick.
I’m pretty sure I was around 12 when I was offered my first cigarette.
Believe me, it really felt cool, especially when I drew the smoke as deeply into my lungs as I could to impress the older kids. There was a slight problem, however. After about the third drag off the unfiltered Chesterfield, I became so dizzy that I got sick and threw up. From that day forward, I never smoked another cigarette.
Fast forward to high school — the big thing was smokeless tobacco. An older classmate offered me a big ol’ wad of Wintergreen Copenhagen after a football game.
“Wow! This stuff tastes great,” I thought, as I jammed what felt like about a half pound of the stuff between my cheek and gum. Cool it was — until my stomach started to churn, and my head started spinning.
At that very moment, I made a split-second decision to run away so my friends wouldn’t think I was a weakling. Seconds from throwing up from an extreme case of vertigo, I promptly ran into the rear view mirror on the side of a great big truck, knocking myself out cold. To this day, I get nauseous whenever I smell Wintergreen.
Openly and without shame, I admit that I have puffed on a few cigars when babies were born, elections won, or promotions earned.
Wanting to look like my NBC News hero Chet Huntley, I even tried smoking a pipe. Hanging on the wall of my office, I have a photo of me and Chet sitting on a sofa at B.G. Harmon’s house in Carmi. I’m holding a press camera, and Chet is holding a pipe.
Sadly, my dreams of wanting to look like Chet Huntley were extinguished when he died of lung cancer in 1974.
Riding in my parent’s car as they chain smoked, and working in smoky bars over the years as a bartender, I’ve probably inhaled enough secondhand smoke to be classified as a smoker.
Regardless — I would discourage anyone from lighting up the first time. But if you must, I hope it’s a disgustingly bad experience — just like mine.
Besides, who in the world can afford cigarettes these days?