Should you have the expensive misfortune that would cause you to visit any medical practitioner; you will be asked the one question that has become the mantra of the sons and daughters of Hippocrates.
“Do you smoke?”
Should you give an affirmative answer to the above question, prepare yourself to be demoted from “patient” to a social statues lying somewhere between child molester and used car salesman.
Like everyone else, I have heard all the reasons and been given all the facts that should have caused me to stop using tobacco long ago. But, as you might have guessed, I haven’t stopped. Please allow me to explain why I continue to smoke.
At the time of my heart attack, I smoked because I was still married and cigarettes were a decisive factor in allowing me to avoid hearing words such as “defendant,” “your honor,” “aggravated assault,” or “bail denied.” I don’t care what the politically correct whiners have to say. I am firmly convinced that stopping to have a cigarette while arguing with your future ex-husband, ex-wife, ex-primate or ex-anything else has saved many more lives than cigarettes have taken.
Perhaps the greatest factor that causes me to continue to smoke is that I like it. Not only do I like to smoke I also happen to NOT like withdrawal symptoms. If you want to see an example of what Ivan the Terrible may have been like on a bad hair day, take away my cigarettes. And then run for cover, because after about two hours of nicotine depravation I am not a pleasant person. This in no way implies that I am pleasant to begin with, but without my cigarettes I could easily become a role model for the Charlie Manson Chapter of the Future Mass Murderers of America.
Another of the many reasons I have to continue smoking is that I feel it is my civic responsibility not only to smoke but to smoke as much as possible. Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Social Security Administration will allow me to prove my point.
The CDC has estimated that each year of smoking reduces the smoker’s lifetime by 1 year (on average, of course). Let us assume that there are 30 million current smokers that smoke 1 pack of cigarettes per day, that each smoker has been smoking for an average of 20 years, and that the average tax on a pack of cigarettes over that time span was $1.00. Since the current pay-out to retirees is $8,500 per year, simple math leads us to the following conclusions:
· 30 million smokers ×1 pack per day × $1.00 per pack taxes × 365 days/yr = $ 10,950,000,000/year (10 billion, 950 million dollars!)
· × 20 years = $21,900,000,000 (21.9 billion dollars)
Since the CDC says that the above 30 million smokers will die 5 years sooner than their neurotic non-smoking peers, this leads to:
· 30,000,000 × 5 years × $8,500/year = $12,750,000,000 (12.75 billion dollars) in Social Security benefits that smoker’s won’t receive
· Taxes paid by smokers during their lifetime + money that won’t come out of the Social Security Trust Fund = $34.65 billion dollars
Let the tree-hugging, caribou-kissing, planet-saving Al Goreshevics try to come up with that kind of money.
The previous paragraphs do not mention the fact that tobacco is vital to the economic health of at least two states, Kentucky and North Carolina, and is a significant contributor to the economies of several others. If tobacco consumption falls, the economies of these two states would collapse to a level currently found in places such as Rwanda. If the current incomes of tobacco farmers, their helpers, and their families were to be replaced by public assistance funds there would not be enough money in state tax revenues to keep these formerly productive citizens above the poverty level. There might be an offsetting gain from the income taxes paid by bankruptcy and divorce attorneys, but not enough to justify wrecking an entire industry.
Another benefit of smoking is that I get an almost never ending stream of people, whom I have named the “Healthy Lifestyle Gestapo,” that come up to me on the street or some other public place to point out that I am “polluting the air” or participating in some other non-statutory “crime” against the “environment.”
What really adds a humorous tone to such accusations is that they are usually made while both the accuser and I are being enveloped a cloud of partially-burned hydrocarbons emanating from the exhaust pipes of a city bus. But since a bus won’t sit there and listen to a sermon from one of these tireless guardians of personal liberty, I get the pleasure of laughing hysterically at the vacant expressions on their faces when I point out that the aforementioned bus is a danger to both out well-beings.
If I really want to confuse them I ask when was the last time they read of a smoker that, while driving the wrong way on the Interstate, causing an accident that killed a carload of innocent people.
Many years ago the great American newspaper columnist H. L. Mencken wrote about the activities of a group of citizens which he called the “uplifters.” To Mencken, the “uplifters” were ceaselessly attempting to save mankind from some dangerous substance (such as alcohol in the case of the Prohibitionists) that could easily be controlled if only the substance in question were to be declared illegal. I can’t read his classic column “The Uplifters Try It Again” without pausing to wonder what Mencken would have thought about our latest attempt to legislate morality via the unofficial jihad against the still legal substance known as tobacco.
Prohibition was a dismal failure because its supporters failed to remember one simple fact about “human nature.” You can’t legislate morality.