We sit on street corners and smoke life away

“I hate it that you smoke. I hate loving the person that you are; the smiley, passionate, loving, talented, talkative person… that chooses the worst way possible to de-stress.”

I’m not here to criticise you by all means, all you smokers out there.

On the one hand, I’m a perfect example of the ‘it’s your life, do as you please, free will’ and all that jazz walk of life. The rights of the individual carry great significance in the twenty-first century, and thus overall, it is important to remember that everyone is their own person, no matter what decision they choose to make. We must respect that, we must learn to live with that, even if we do not agree with their choices.

But on the other, as of late I have experienced first hand how difficult it is to stand by and watch someone you care about smoke.

My Grandad has always been a heavy smoker. I remember vividly one trip out with him while visiting him in Manchester when he smoked a whole packet in the time we were out. He didn’t stop smoking all day. My parents resented him smoking around my sister and I, and would always insinuate that he shouldn’t, but this apparently didn’t bother him too much. He used to visit my Grandma’s house in Sheffield and smoke constantly around us then too. The little memories I have of this (I think I was around five) are of me holding my breath when he would exhale, or whenever I had to hug him goodbye.

He’s never, as far as I know, had any health issues relating to it. Lucky bugger, that’s all I can say, I’ll explain why.

An ex boyfriend of mine’s father was never a smoker, but used to be very friendly with a large group of them. At work he was surrounded by them, yet he never touched a cigarette. He was diagnosed with lung cancer, and has since suffered considerable damage to them, to the extent that they have, in some way, broken down to leave him with half a working lung. He is easily out of breath when walking around, coughs a lot, especially in the morning and suffers a lot of difficulty breathing.

The reasons why people smoke are varying and reach far beyond anything I can generically collaborate on here, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. For some, smoking is to relax, for some it’s an addiction they can’t live without, for others it’s just a part of life that they enjoy doing occasionally to make them feel better about anything that might be happening in their lives. I won’t generalise everyone together.

The point to make here, is that that just isn’t fair; anyone can see that. Someone who makes an active choice to harm their healthy is completely entitled to do so, but it seems horrific that it should affect others around them. Parents smoking around children is another example of how our desire to allow freedom of action to dominate our lives can seriously damage those around us.

Admittedly, I know little of those situations and the details involved in such, so I won’t go into criticising those people any further.

But of late, it’s made me realise just how much being around a smoker you really care about can get to you. Not immediately, it’s something that tugs at your heart-strings in a subtle way on a regular basis, not an all in one sob-fest with ice cream kind of thing.

This isn’t some emotion-filled rant aimed to make smokers feel guilty and stop, just to hopefully open your eyes to everything going on outside your smoke filled cloud. People care about you killing yourself. We respect your decision to smoke, but please respect our decision to oppose it.

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