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No Smoking

February 3, 2010

I’m being haunted by the Marlboro Man.

No sooner do I post about my inability to understand why anyone takes up smoking in this day and age than I get not one, but two emails from the British Tobacco Award informing me that I’ve won 1,000,000.00 pounds sterling.  (I know it’s official because they spelled ‘Authorised’ with an ‘s.’) My prize comes to $1,587,905.51 American by today’s exchange rates, and would easily cover my student loans, but sadly, I can’t in good conscience accept money from a product that causes cancer.

This ‘amazing opportunity’ reminds me that I’ve received at least two flyers in the mail in the last three months from Philip Morris offering me free cigarettes. Do you know how hard it is to pass up free swag? I may loathe cigarettes with white hot intensity of a thousand suns, may associate them with my grandmother’s emphysema and the oxygen tank she toted around for the last several years of her life, may find the concept of smoking disgusting on a multitude of levels, but my generation was born with its hand out, and given the current state of the economy, it seems almost criminal to let all that product go to waste.

It’s no surprise that Big Tobacco is desperate. They’re no longer allowed to advertise on TV or in film, are severely limited in print ads, and can’t use cartoons to lure children into a lifetime addiction.  (Unlike General Mills.)  No wonder they’re reduced to mailing circulars to random names regurgitated by Google. Thirty-eight states have already made it illegal to smoke indoors in various combinations of workplace, restaurant, or bar bans. And what did Los Angeles just do?  My city enacted a law prohibiting smokers from lighting up within 20 feet of a restaurant.

Well, hallelujah.  Sorry, Altria.  Some may see this as the demise of democracy and cry, ‘Fascism,’ but I’m just thrilled that in a year’s time I’ll be able to sit on the patio of a Coffee Bean without holding my breath. To those who think the L.A. City Council is discriminating against Smoker-Americans, I say think of it like the Second Amendment: yes, you have the right to bear arms, but if you shoot me with those arms, then it becomes my problem. You’re puffing on a loaded gun, tobacco fiends, and I, for one, think it’s my right to walk down the street without taking a bullet.

Just add it to the list of reasons I can never leave Southern California.

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