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No Longer A Smoking America
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No Longer A Smoking America
I wrote this paper for my college english comp class, and decided it was worthy enough to publish. Maybe. Anyhow, take it with a grain of salt folks, and if you see something you think is wrong, please inform me. Enjoy!
[1,483 words]
Kevin Myrick

K Myrick

I'm currently a College Student enrolled at Auburn University in Auburn, AL. I'm studying Political Science, but thinking of changing my major to English, or double majoring. I'm interested in computers, the outdoors and of course, writing. I read a lot instead of watching TV, because in truth there is nothing more of value to watch on TV anymore.
[December 2003]
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No Longer A Smoking America
Kevin Myrick

It’s in the evening, and the sun has set. A congregation walks out into the crisp night air,
pulling out of their pockets packs of Marlboro Reds and Zippo lighters. The smokers worship
their cigarettes, much like churchgoers praise the bible. They walk past the pool over to
the plastic pool furniture, which serves as the congregation’s small sanctuary for relaxing,
and enjoying their after-meal cigarettes. The group puffs away at their tobacco, enjoying
the conversation they are having about anything that comes up. Some of the followers even
solicit advice from others in the group during this time, which causes the inhaling of
smoke to increase. The first rounds of cigarettes are extinguished and are followed by more.
The topics are somewhat sensitive and that causes some to start smoking more and more,
causing the clouds of smoke surrounding this following to grow. A few minutes later,
the cigarettes are out, and the congregation heads back inside to their respective areas,
not sure when they will go back out for another cigarette.

Unlike the group that sits outside and smokes, society has begun to move forward against the
smoker. Society refuses to sit idly by and watch another generation growing up seeing Joe
Camel ads and the Marlboro man sitting on a fence post smoking a cigarette in an avante
garde fashion. Society has begun its crazed fighting of the smoker, making them move
outdoors, in their cars and homes to enjoy their habits. The smokers shelter and habitat
have moved outdoors and society is still not tolerant. American society is placing itself
in a position where it can control smoker’s lives, a place where they are not welcome and
have no right to criticize the choices of individuals. As a result of society placing itself
inside a new spectrum all differing subcultures and not just the smokers, are being wrangled
into the norm.

Society has retrieved their trenching shovel, and dug the figurative foxhole for the long
battle against the smoking subculture. The Anti-Tobacco trust has many soldiers for this
battle, much like this one girl in particular at my. I was walking outside, the join my
comrades for a well needed smoke. Walking outside, I see a neighbor in the laundry room,
turning on the washer after paying. She saw me heading outside, the pack of cigarettes in
my hand and lighter ready. She stops, and asks me rhetorically, “You smoke Kevin?” I
sarcastically replied, “No, I just puff on them to look cool.” She snubbed me for such a
habit and such a comment. “Fine. You know, I don’t like smoking. I don’t think I should
talk to smokers.” I thought about this for a moment, and replied, “Can I ask you a question?”
“Of course,” she said. “Why? It doesn’t make any sense that you won’t talk to me because I
smoke. I do something that I personally enjoy. How does that make anything I’m doing wrong?”
My retort struck a cord apparently, and she chose not to reply. The most interesting thing
about this incident isn’t necessarily the low-key hostility presented by the other person
and myself, but in the fact that her moral standpoint is that she shouldn’t talk to smokers.
The smoker is not an atypical boogieman hiding in some closet about to abduct children.
The smoker is, however, like most people that society would normally tolerate a well
adjusted and law abiding citizen.

Commercialism, in the form of some very popular Anti-Smoking ads has actively told the
consumer that smoking is wrong. Smoking has reminded lawmakers that they have a moral
obligation to protect all of its citizens even the smokers. Now lawmakers regulate when
and where a smoker can enjoy their habit. More and more society is closing in on the smoker,
and less and less the smoker’s voice is heard. It’s not enough that when a person complains
about smoke outside, a smoker is to blame. Second hand smoke is bad for people’s health.
However, it takes concentrated second hand smoke over a long time period for real long term
damaging effects to occur. The argument and whining that people have in general is
flagrantly overblown. And while this reasoning is accusatory, society is responsible for the
smoker’s reaction towards the whining of the majority. This wasn’t always so, however.

Smoking was culturally accepted in society before the 1990’s when the Anti-Tobacco trust
finally succeeded in the destruction of the tobacco companies economic idealism. In the
1950’s, smoking a cigarette of any form was comparable to drinking a bottle of Coca-Cola
today. It was as American as baseball and apple pie. As cliché as it sounds, it’s true.
Now, political correctness has replaced earlier American ideals. The American norm used to
be a young man walking out towards his car, lighting up a cigarette. This wasn’t expected,
but it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see it. Now the norm is a young man walking to his car,
talking on a cell phone while drinking a Café Latte. Because American society’s norm shifts
so often, it is no longer totally possible to track what is normal, what is no longer normal,
 and the middle ground of what is accepted.

Many groups have felt the sting of American society’s norm shifting from one ideal to the
next. The best example for this is the Mormon Church buying a large percentage of Coca-Cola.
Mormon doctrine states that the ingestion of caffeine was immoral and not allowed by members
and followers of their particular faith. This was doctrine up to a few years ago when they
purchased a large chunk of Coca-Cola indirectly through holding companies. Their doctrine
shifted from not being able to ingest any caffeine to being able to suddenly drink products
developed and distributed by Coca-Cola. Suddenly, their fundamental members who refused to
change with the policy became friendless. Their society, much like American society,
suddenly forgot this fundamental group existed.

Does American society suddenly forget whole groups of people exist? Yes. Does this society
also commit hypocrisy by regulating what groups do, when it would be not politically correct
 to do so? Yes. Is American society so infatuated by the power to regulate moral issues that
 it destroys whole subcultures in the process in order to maintain a normal, politically
correct way of thinking? Of course, why wouldn’t it?

The danger of creating a society so engulfed in trying to be normal is that it inadvertently
places itself in a position to immediately cause change to itself in damaging ways. Society
causes stereotypes, especially in smoking, to destroy people’s affections towards the
subculture, but also the individual as soon as it finds flaws. And because these flaws are
seen in only a bad sense, then society immediately places itself in the moral majority
against these flaws. Society, for instance, teaches individuals examples of why smoking is
bad. I’ve heard a dozen times from a dozen people that smoking will eventually kill me with
lung cancer. Personally, I’ve seen the damage it does. I’ve seen how bad people are after
twenty-five years of heavy smoking. This doesn’t stop me or other smokers. If a subculture
or group knows that something they are doing is flawed, and yet continues to do so, then
why does society feel the need to still involve itself? To overrun whatever the group or
subculture cares or feels about its particular cause or habit is dangerous. This is
dangerous because the individual right to do or say something that has been held for so
long is lost. Society creates this social moré because it wants everyone to be normal.
But individuals do not always accept normal behavior that is expected by society, and
therefore subjects itself to being considered outside the realm of what society considers
normal. However, without diversity and radicalism in small groups then society cannot
achieve its ultimate goal of change. Without change, society can not stay politically
correct and therefore impales it’s logic on it’s own flaw. Which is why society itself is
hypocritical to the whole issue of smoking. Without smoking, society proves itself wrong.
A group walks towards the gate beside the pool, leading out to the parking lot. They head
for their car, and as they pass by the sitting smoker, they stop for a moment, and make the
comment that every cigarette you smoke takes a year off your life. The leader of the
congregation chimes back sarcastically, “good, it’s the worse years if you think about it.
Who wants to sit around in an adult diaper for five years waiting to die.” Much like this
comment, the destruction of the smoking culture reflects what is happening in their
struggle against society at large. The culture is sitting around waiting for society to
come in grim reaper fashion and execute it. It sits quietly in silence on the pool
furniture puffing the last few breaths of nicotine, before it finally gets up and goes



"But couldn't cigarette smoking put you in a diaper in your forties...or in your grave in your thirties? I guess I never bought into your premise...other then the nonsensical element of life itself! If so it doesn't work well with cigarette smoking because it's plainly bad!!!" -- e. rocco caldwell.
"Okay, here's my reply to that, and maybe because I'm an idiot, which happens from time to time, this final version isn't the one I really wanted to publish. BUT that's okay, I'll keep it intact like it is. The point of the paper isn't about smoking itself, but about how society seems to rip apart cultures that it doesn't like. Hence why I used the Coca-Cola analogy. And if it would have been stronger with further explanation of this, I would have done it but for lack of space in my original final draft of this paper. (those lovely 4-5 page requirements....) That's all I have to say about that." -- Kevin Myrick, Auburn, AL, USA.
"Okay! I hear you. " -- e. rocco caldwell.
"Great work, I thought that this was flawless, well. I wish i could have read the rest, but apart from that I liked the in-politicalness of it all!" -- Buxton.
"With the coast of health insurance and all health problem smoking causes I would raise the price to ten dollars a pack and any one with a tobacco related illness would get free medical treatment out of it." -- Bug off.


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© 2004 Kevin Myrick
January 2004

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