Several weeks ago there was a front page article in our local newspaper titled, “Mayor declares official ‘World No Tobacco Day’.” The article pointed out that smoking kills more people than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, murders, suicides, drugs and fires combined. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me that is pretty sobering, especially if a smoker wanted to live for a long time.
This reminded me of a true story a friend told me recently. It seems a man was a smoker in his earlier life, but a few years ago he had given up the habit. He name is Tom. Over time, Tom became the manager of a large plant in South Arkansas that employed about 50 men, plus the clerical workers who worked in the office. One day as they began the morning shift, Tom called all his men together and said to them, “All of you men who smoke raise your hand.” About half of those who were there did so. Then he said, “For the next two hours I want each one of you men to go all over this plant and pick up every cigarette butt you find and put it in a trash can. From now on I want to keep this place clean.”
At this point a man whose name was Harry raised his hand. Tom acknowledged him, and asked what he wanted. Harry said, “Mr. Tom, I don’t think I should be required to pick up cigarette butts today.” Then Tom responded “Harry, why don’t you think you should be required to pick them up like all the other smokers?” Then Harry turned the pockets of his coat inside out and revealed the dozens of cigarette butts that he had placed there each time he had taken a smoke break. At this point, Tom said, “Harry: You may be excused.” Now, you may ask, what is the point of this story? Well, it says to me that if you are going to smoke, don’t be a litterbug and expect someone else to pick up your trash.
On a much more serious note, several months ago I got to know a young woman we will call Bonnie (not her real name). Bonnie is beautiful, in her mid-30s, and is almost homeless, going from one place to another where someone will take her in. Bonnie is also a chain-smoker. She smokes about a pack a day, and this has taken almost everything she makes to support this habit.
When I asked her how much her cigarettes were costing her, she said, $6 a pack. It did not take me but a few minutes to put a pencil to that: $6 times 365 days in a year (no holidays for smokers), and you have the nice tidy sum of $2,190 for a habit that has proven to cause cancer. Let’s say a smoker continues this habit for 40 years and that comes to $87,600 that could be used for having a better life and being a good example for others. Guess what, Bonnie has a young daughter and her daughter also smokes.
Over the years I have written a number of columns about the harmful effects of smoking. To be honest, I cannot relate to someone who smokes, as I have never bought a pack of cigarettes in my life, even though, as a kid, I took a few puffs from a cigarette someone had given me. There is one thing I have truly come to appreciate and that is the strong force of addiction that cigarette smoking causes. When a highly intelligent person who understands the consequences of smoking continues to spend good money for this habit, you just know the stronghold it has over their life.
I can tell you truthfully, my heart hurts for these people and I am saddened every time I see someone smoking, especially a young person whose life may be cut short from this nasty and costly habit.
Editor’s Note: THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY – Begin your day on a positive note – 365 days for $12. This will benefit the Bookcase for Every Child project. Go to www.apositivemomentwithjim.com to subscribe.