Thursday, October 13, 2011

Boise is for smokers.

I recently became infatuated with the public debate here in Boise, Idaho over a proposed smoking ban that would effect businesses and some of our larger parks. According to the CDC, Idaho is ranked 15th in percentage of smokers with 16.9%; not as good as our obesity statistics, but you take what you can get.

Here's the thing, I've been on both sides of the issue. I used to smoke. A lot.

It's amazing how many friends you don't make singing karaoke on a weekday all alone

As a matter of fact, 85% of the pictures taken of me in my twenties have me smoking at a bar, either singing karaoke or at a comedy show.

I can really be self-obsessed sometimes.

I was infatuated with smoking. Two packs a day was normal and if I was working the door at a club, I could smoke twenty cigarettes in less than three hours. It didn't matter what I was doing, I wanted a cigarette.

Even when I'm sick on NYE and I've lost my voice and still have to perform.

We all know that smoking is more addictive than heroin, meth, and even bacon flavored meth, and you don't have to watch too many episodes of Intervention or attend more than a handful of AA meetings to see the lengths that your average addict will go to feed that addiction. I didn't quit smoking myself until I developed severe asthma, and I still steal cigarettes after six or seven beers despite the fact that it would be equally as healthy for me to enter a needle sharing competition in Garden City. Almost every smoker hates the fact that they smoke, and how many empty promises have you heard your smoking friends and family make to themselves about quitting but to no avail?

The simple fact is that your average smoker is completely screwed. Every single day that they keep inhaling poison into their lungs increases the odds that they will suffer before they die, and that day will come too early for everyone that knows them. For years we have been watching our fellow human beings getting addicted to a product that will almost certainly hasten their demise and it wasn't until fairly recently that the companies selling this product were forced to admit that they were killing us.

20,679 Physicians acquired a lot of negative karma

But we have science now, and a Surgeon General who wants us to quit that shit, surely logic, common sense, and a healthy sense of self-preservation would dictate that our society would rise up and destroy one of the most damaging things that even exists? Governments and activists have done what they can, we've suffered through ad-campaigns, warning labels, and countless hours of nagging from our loved ones, but it will never be enough. Never.

The current crop of smokers are already infected. Science tells us that humans have a really crappy ability to predict statistics as it applies to them, we all think that it's everyone else who gets laid-off or gets an STD, which is why it's so shocking when it happens to us. And brains inflicted with addiction will use every single trick at their disposal to continue feeding the monster that is controlling their actions. Smokers, and the businesses who profit off of their addiction, have resisted every single effort to restrict public exposure. It doesn't matter what statistics we show people or how many of them rot from the inside, these forces will not be convinced with logic or reason, because addiction doesn't operate that way.

And that is where the smoking ban comes in.

Smoking was once allowed in Airplanes and Restaurants, even in Hospitals. Slowly, and with much resistance, things have changed. Now some states don't allow you to smoke within 10 or 25 feet of a public building, some cities don't allow you to smoke in any public space at all. Smokers have hated it, mumbling to themselves about their "rights" while simultaneously showing off their inability to make healthy decisions for themselves. Even some non-smokers, afraid of the boogie man coming after their bottled water or something next, argue that businesses get to make up their own rules. Well they don't, businesses don't get to dump sludge into the river or pollute the airways with smog without regulation just because they want to, this ban is simply regulating pollution on a small scale for the greater good, one of the reasons government exists in the first place. Smokers also like to speak of their right to smoke, like it was god-given or something, but killing yourself is technically against the law (and religion) almost everywhere, just because the two haven't been connected yet doesn't put them in the right.

This is my final point: Boise is a small city, but it is a proud city. We are constantly on top ten lists of places to live, retire, or raise a family. The weather is nice, the people are friendly, and we even have a nice walkway called the Greenbelt that stretches alongside the Boise River for 22 miles because we are health conscious and like to ride our bicycles. A lot of people move here because of all the wonderful and healthy things that are accessible a short distance from town, these facts not only attract people but factor into the decisions of businesses to move here, something that has worked in our favor historically and has positively impacted our local economy. In 50 years smoking will not be a part of this city. Anywhere.

So will our city council decide to step up and make the healthy and inevitable decision to make this a better place to work and live, or will a future city council have to do it for them?

Let's just stare at each other quietly.

No comments:

Post a Comment