THE BEAST OF SMOKE by
Cliff McKenzie, Editor
ZERO PLUS 1294 DAY--New York, NY, Tuesday, March
one of 45 million American adults, 22 percent of the population,
who regularly pulls out a small cylinder of Tobacco Terror,
ignites it, then inhales it deeply into the lungs so that it
might rob the body of oxygen and incur the wrath of multiple
forms of cancer, primarily that of the lungs.
There is no logic to
no logic to smoking
It is, despite all the
false arguments raised in its defense, a slow, insidious form
There is no argument
that smoking will, over time, destroy one's life's longevity
and render the chances of a healthier body subject to hacking,
coughing and ripe for a variety of other respiratory attacks.
There are countless facts
that fly in the face of each and every argument that favors
smoking by those of us who smoke. Most of us who light up the
Tobacco Terrorist have convinced ourselves that the little cylinder
we suck on is our "friend" who will "calm"
our nerves when we are tense, or ease the "stress"
of life, or "give us respite" from the cacophony of
the madding crowds.
Some of us espouse of
"individual rights" as justification for igniting
a small carcinogenic time bomb that we greedily inhale deep
into our lungs. We wave the right of "free will" over
those who depose us as "scabs" upon society, and relegate
us to huddle in alcoves outside buildings to hurriedly consume
clouds of fumes that have but one molecular purpose--to suffocate
our blood cells by shrouding them with plastic bags of carbon
monoxide so that the rich flow of oxygen will be shut down.
I know that each time
I inhale smoke, it's not unlike putting a plastic bag over my
head, cinching it tight around my neck, and trying to breathe.
Long ago I chose to ignore the facts about smoking for a reason
that I refuse to admit, or, if I do admit to it, refuse to indemnify
as worthy of my health.
In this sense, smoking
What sane human being
would ingest poisons into the body that, as with small doses
of arsenic, will end up cruelly killing one's self?
Those of us, such as
myself, who have smoked for decades, are well aware that emphysema
virtual collapse of the lungs to make oxygen--is part and parcel
of the habit. Anyone who has seen a person afflicted with this
disease will note the color of the skin turns darker and darker
as less and less oxygen feeds the body until one day the body
just shuts down. That is, after long bouts of pain and anguish
not only for the smoker but all around him or her.
In many ways, I am being
held captive by a Terrorist.
I am kneeling with a
gun to my head and told that if I do not smoke I will be shot.
Terrorist has a gun to my head
So, I think I have this
macabre choice: slowly kill myself by smoking or refuse to smoke
Smokers like myself believe
that we "can't live without a cigarette." Our "death"
is denying ourselves the right to commit hari-kari.
We're exactly like the
crack addict who would eat his own children before giving up
his habit. The Tobacco Rules over all.
Those of us with loving
families who care about us are the worse offenders. Our children
and grandchildren look at us as we inhale "death"
and see someone they love slowly cutting off their fingers,
toes, arms, legs, until one day there will only be this blob
of flesh and bones slumped over in a wheel chair, skin blackened
by lack of oxygen, gasping at an oxygen tube for those last
wheezes of life.
million U.S. smokers are held captive
Of course, we erase such
thoughts as quickly as they flash before our minds. We blindly
think we are invincible to such horror, or, we delude ourselves
as I have for years, that I will "quit" tomorrow and
save myself from the "final solution" that all smokers
such as I face in the end.
Smoking is an addiction
of incalculable power. Some of the brightest, most intellectual
minds of all times sneak out in the alley when no one is looking
and suck down the smoke. A friend of mine who is a medical doctor
confessed to me recently that between patients he dashes to
the window to draw the smoke deep, and is compelled to think
only of his next cigarette as he moves from patient to patient.
Terrorism is about Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency. Truly, when one looks at the habits
of a smoker, all a smoker represents in this genre is a Walking
Terrorist. His or her victim is not only himself or herself,
but also those who inhale the residue of the smoke.
Daily, I carry a Pack
of Terrorists around with me. I take a Terrorist out. I put
a Terrorist between my lips. I ignite the fuse of the Terrorist
Suicide Bomb. I inhale the Terrorist Bomb. I let the Terrorist
Bomb explode in my lungs.
I do this over and over.
I aid and abet Terrorism. I feed it within myself.
And, I fight it. Vaingloriously,
I fight it. I make feeble attempts to quit. On occasion, I'll
allow the Sentinel of Vigilance to take on the Beast of Tobacco
Terrorism. When he does, I conjure the Courage and Conviction
to take the Right Action. I'll put on a non-smoking patch, take
some pills, chew some gum and vow not to smoke.
Then I crumble.
The gun to my head looms
large. I hear the Beast of Terror's voice: "Smoke or Die!"
I hear the
Beast's voice..and I crumble
Like any addict, I scramble
to rip open a pack, or tear through all my pockets in all my
clothes in hopes I will find a butt, a broken smoke I can tape
together--anything to get my Death Fix.
It's a sad commentary.
We adult U.S. smokers--all 46 million of us--are Self-Inflicted
We burden our society.
Health care costs soar because of us. But, in a way, we are
godsend for the budget. Health care providers know a huge amount
of us will die prematurely, reducing future costs.
Our enemies abroad, those
who flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon,
as well as those who wish the worst evils upon us, dance with
joy each time we light a smoke. The only thing they wish is
that they were lighting it, and they were sitting next to us
as we coughed and wheezed and gagged, and then lit up again.
This morning I glanced
at an article in the Washington Post about why people smoke
in the face of such devastating facts against it. The story
included a link for the Center
for Tobacco Cessation
I put it in my favorites--to
read it "later."
But there is some light
at the end of the tunnel. I make no excuses for my Terroristic
Habit. I have no denials to hide behind. I hate smoking.
But, there is this power
greater than myself inside me that holds me prisoner to some
massive defect of character that I will not release from my
tightly clenched fist.
Beast of Tobacco Terrorism is balled up like an angry
This is the Beast of
He's all balled up, kind
of like an angry python, wrapped around that "will to not
smoke." He's not giving it up.
He's proving to me how
the Beast of Tobacco Terrorism is more important than anything
else I do, because I am aware I am a prisoner of my own self
who delays daily the real battle of fighting the Beast of Tobacco
I'm not going to give
I'm going to keep trying.
I'm going to believe
the Sentinel of Vigilance is on my side whispering in my ear:
"We can do it. We can do it."
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