This week, I had a brief but intense Facebook skirmish involving a person with whom I usually have perfectly amiable relations. While having his customary AM cigarette, my friend was offended by a passerby when she replied to his “good morning” with an unheralded diatribe against public smoking.
In typical modern fashion, he worked out his rage with a Facebook status forcefully suggesting that non-smokers should just hold their breath when they pass a smoker.
He had had a difficult day, but mine was no less trying. My bedroom window is not far from the side entrance of the apartment building immediately next door. Having no air conditioner in the bedroom, I often open the window in the summer. Someone has recently moved in who now uses the side entrance to smoke at roughly hourly intervals all day, every day. Sniff my apartment when he’s out there, and you would never know that I am a non-smoker.
So I replied to my friend’s advice for non-smokers with some fire, pointing out that if one were to hold one’s breath while passing every smoker one encounters downtown, one would suffocate. I alluded to the pervasive odor possessed by habitual smokers and the unhealthy fumes they force on the rest of us.
My friend asked how I could even smell the smoke from so high up on my horse.
My friend seemed mad. He also declared that instead of lecturing him I should bestir myself in the legislative world and get a law passed against smoking in public, and until then IT IS A FREE COUNTRY.
I supported legislation to ban smoking within twenty feet of public entrances. However, now that this legislation exists in Philly, I still find myself fighting a pall of smoke every time I go into the bank. A law about smoking is one thing, but getting people to follow it is another. My blood boils every time I see parents’ cigarettes smoldering a foot from their children’s faces. My smoking neighbor is a dilemma. To avoid his smoke, should I buy another air conditioner and pay to run it instead of opening the window when the weather is bearable? Do I keep my window shut and swelter so that he can get his nicotine fix? I have not mentioned my annoyance to anyone, least of all my smoking neighbor, because as my friend points out, it is a free country, and there is no rule against my neighbor having a cigarette out there.
It’s hard for me to tell if my abhorrence of cigarettes is warranted. I do, in fact, hold my breath when I pass smokers, but I also hold it when I go into subway entrances, and when I pass dumpsters, fried chicken joints, candle stores, Bath and Body Works, cosmetics counters, and anyone who looks like they might be wearing cologne (yes, I rarely breathe freely). My sense of smell is a curse. Click on the comic below to read my post, “The Tyranny of Bad Smells”.
In general, since I count many smokers among my friends, my motto is Love the Smoker, Hate the Cigarette. Who was out of line in this week’s Facebook skirmish?
And so we come to the poll.