Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday rerun: Lightin' Up McGraw

Giving up cigarettes is a tough thing to do.  As the old Bob Seger song said, "I used to smoke five packs of cigarettes a day.  It was the hardest thing to put them away..."

Well, I didn't smoke five packs a day, but I was good for a pack, more or less.  And I enjoyed it, to tell you the truth, even knowing that it was bad for me.  It was that knowledge that eventually wore me down.

Today's young smoker might be fascinated, or envious, to learn of a time in America when more or less everyone smoked, more or less everywhere.  Restaurants, offices, grocery stores, funeral parlors, buses: you name a place, and the chances are that one could light up with impunity at any time.  And demand "an ashtray, if it's not too much trouble..."

In the late 1980's, things started to change, and smoking was banned in more places every day.  Bars and restaurants were the last public places to change.  You might recall the plaintive cries of Baltimore's bar and restaurant owners, who all claimed long and loud that without the right to puff a Camel, their customers would not come in, and their business would be gone in a puff of smoke.

This, of course, did not happen, nor did the increase of sales tax on the smokes themselves stop the dedicated smokers from smoking in their own areas.  I leave it to you to decide if that tax increase was fair, but I think that it's fair that smoking be done either in the Great Outdoors or someone else's Great Indoors. You want to smoke, or commit acts of self-defenestration, or listen to vile radio programs, go for it, but please don't force it on me.

Take a puff - it's springtime!
So all this comes to mind upon reading that President Barack Obama has been nine months without a smoke break, and I salute him for that.  In my case, after three months, the temptation to bum one and light it up was all gone, and there was nothing left to go but go around apologizing for my crabby behavior during those three months.

Those three long, long months.

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