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Do You Smoke? Why?


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#1 Christian

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 05:41 PM

I just read Josh's comment in one of the music threads about how Christian retailers had rejected an album cover that featured cigars.

I don't want to drag Josh into defending smoking, but I wonder if anyone else wishes to rise to its defense. Is there any reason to smoke, other than addiction? Does anyone out there claim to smoke yet not be addicted?

Pushing into even more controversial territory, does anyone think smoking has quantifiable health benefits? These may be outweighed in the long term by other consequences, but I'm interested in any data that might suggest that tobacco has some beneficial qualities and is not simply a means of developing cancer.

My experience is that smoking (cigars -- I don't know about cigarettes) puts one in a reflective mood, and can actually stimulate good conversation and deep thinking. No joke. I realize that cigars aren't required for "good conversation and deep thinking," but I think there's something to it. What's the chemical/biological explanation? Is it all just in my head?

I sound like a smoking advocate, but I'm not. I'm just tired of the anti-tobacco diatribes I hear from certain advocacy groups and from nonsmoking friends. However, I'm willing to hear that I'm wrong.

For the record, I haven't smoked a cigar in over a year, and before that I was an infrequent smoker.

#2 mrmando

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 05:46 PM

Well, I think smokers are at lower risk for Alzheimer's ...

because the cancer gets 'em first!

Really, I don't know of any true medical benefits. Social benefits, sure -- nicotine helps you relax & concentrate. Of course, you could get that from nicotine chewing gum and not have to ingest all the other carcinogens.

#3 Andrew

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 06:04 PM

Try a glass or two of red wine instead -- there are documented cardiac/circulatory benefits from that, plus it induces the sanguine, reflective mood changes related to nicotine that you described earlier.

Nicotine appears to counteract temporarily some of the cognitive changes that occur with schizophrenia, which helps explain why about 95% of schizophrenics are regular smokers. Clearly though, even this possible benefit is outweighed by the adverse pulmonary, carcinogenic, and sexual problems brought on by nicotine addiction.

#4 Tim Willson

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 07:12 PM

Smoking seems bafflingly idiotic to me. Dirty, smelly, expensive, etc. and I could hardly believe it when my teen took it up (briefly, we are led to believe).

I must say, however, that my grandfather smoked a pipe, and the aroma still induces a twinge of nostalgia. If only it were not harmful or addictive...

Okay, so maybe I can understand the attraction a bit, but only to pipes...

But Andrew is on to something. The pleasure of a glass of a wine has been a fairly recent discovery for me, and I have been astonished at the number of Christians who surreptitiously imbibe. I have not encountered alchohol abuse among these wine drinkers; but given that the drinking is both common and benign, it's surprising that it remains as big a taboo, at least in North America.

#5 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 07:49 PM

I do not consider myself a smoker, yet I have a rather cultivated taste for cigars and pipes (by that I mean that I don't just pick out any cigar at the shop if I want a smoke; I know what I like and have a fare appreciation of which among the big names are a waste of time and money). Christian sums up many of the advantages. There is another defense (no, not C. S. Lewis' affections) that suggests that the actual activity of smoking a cigar or pipe contributes to the reflective mood, ie. the puffing itself, that would alienate others were it not done with a cigar or pipe in one's mouth. Also the care demanded of the keeping of the pipe lit without letting it get too hot. The latter is said to create a more relaxed and deliberate demeanor.

Ole' Bob Jones, Sr. said, having met Lewis, "That man smokes a pipe and drinks Scotch Whiskey, but I do believe he is a christian!"

#6 Cunningham

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 09:03 PM

I hate cigarettes but definitely enjoy the occasional cigar. I know I'm not addicted, there's no particular craving, except in certain situations. I like a cigar when I go camping, or on a cool, wet night when my roomate and I have nothing to do but sit around and shoot the breeze. I enjoy Black&Milds (Middleton pipe tobacco rolled into small cigars) when I'm driving long trips at night. To me the key in smoking, as in drinking, is moderation and control. And discernment in experimenting if you have an addictive personality.

#7 Andrew

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 10:32 PM

Yes, the taboo against imbibing does seem rather comical - I still remember the pastor of a church I attended while in med school trying to argue that Jesus served grape juice at the Last Supper ('a little non-fermented fruit juice for the stomach, Timothy...').

On the other hand, if I know an acquaintance has had a history of addiction problems, I keep the alcoholic beverages off the table.

#8 LoneTomato

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 12:24 AM

Everyone who smokes (occasionally or otherwise) here seems to be of the pipe and/or cigar variety. I know I'm in the minority but I occasionally like to buy a pack of cigarettes (cloves to be precise...can't stand the taste of regular cigarettes). I hardly ever finish the pack and what I do smoke usually lasts up to two weeks. They get stale after that so I just throw the rest away.

Why do I do it? The simple answer is that it's just something I enjoy every once in a while. Is there more to it than that? I don't know, maybe but I think the simple answer is the one that counts the most.

Am I addicted? Well, if you call a once-every-two-or-three-month indulgence an addiction then point me to the nearest AA meeting.

#9 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 07:29 PM

Hey! I should point out that I am making no health claims at all. I wish that wine did not make me drousy as I particularly enjoy champagne (one of the only ways I can get the Babe to try an other than white wine, or a "blush"). Bourbon and Gin are less sleep inducing for me.

When I came of age, I happened to be going to a church that made no official claims against drinking and so I imbibed after long soul searching and scripture analysis and never looked back. Heh, later I found myself in a sort of wilderness when it became no longer hip to do so among my peers (deeper commitment to the Lord on their part, and all that). Scripture is pretty clear to me on this subject and have to force myself not to becynical about the motives of those who disagree. I have to tuck the stuff away on occasion because some of my best friends still think it is wrong. Consequently, it makes for more lucidity on New Year's Day (and also a day off I can trade for another holiday in the season).

#10 Alvy

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Posted 12 November 2003 - 12:58 AM

For a period of six months I smoked about four a day, in the evenings only. I find it ambiguous whether I was ever addicted: I do recall evenings when I ran out and experienced quite an intense craving for a cigarette; on the other hand if I went away for any period (a week or two, say), I would have no problem giving up for that time (I only ever smoked in my own home, you see, as I was a secret smoker, being a godly pastor'n'all).

When I returned to England to live with my parents, I stopped smoking immediately, with no problem whatsoever. I still enjoy the occasional cigarette, but am only on perhaps my third pack since February this year, which gives you some indication how in/frequently I smoke.

I started because, for the first time in my life, I found I was craving a cigarette. I would see other people smoke and it just looked relaxing to me, and I would get this insatiable desire to light up. Strange. I was in my mid-twenties and had never touched a cigarette before--I guess I missed out on a lot of experimentation in my adolescence, and had never been drunk before, either--and all of a sudden I had to try. There was also a bit of rebellion in there. I was serving under a pastor whom I, frankly, detested, whose fundamentalistic Christianity led him to condemn just about everyone who didn't look and act exactly like himself, and one of his particular hates was smoking. So there was almost a sense of smug satisfaction as I lit up knowing he would probably have me thrown off staff if he knew.

#11 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 12 November 2003 - 09:30 AM

and all of a sudden I had to try. There was also a bit of rebellion in there. I was serving under a pastor whom I, frankly, detested, whose fundamentalistic Christianity led him to condemn just about everyone who didn't look and act exactly like himself, and one of his particular hates was smoking. So there was almost a sense of smug satisfaction as I lit up knowing he would probably have me thrown off staff if he knew.


OH, do I know the feeling. I've known pastors and teachers like that, both fundie and otherwise. Many accused me of advanturous (for its time) music taste for precisely those reasons. They might have been half right.

#12 MattPage

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Posted 13 November 2003 - 04:12 AM

Well for once I'm going to move from being the liberal lefty to the fundamentalist!. I've never even tried it and to be honest I just don't get it. It stinks (and hence is antisocial) & can give you cancer, and my wife's voice has been out of action for most of this year from singing in smoky pubs (she tried it once).

I mean I wouldn't say its sinful or anything, but it just seems kind of stupid. Smoking has risen loads eventhough we know it kills loads of people. Casual smokers aside I just don't get that, I mean is it willful ignorance, or not being obsessed with worry about dying, or just a desire to feel less pressured by a very harsh world? I am genuinely mystified by the attraction.

It is funny tho when I was growing up I didn't know anyone that smoked (ok a few of the naughty kids at school), but certainly no adults or of my normal friends. Now it seems that everyone seems to enjoy a cigar now and then. Is this a wider social change, church culture change, the reality of being an adult or something else.

One thing I also wonder is how many advcates of cigarettes / cigars would be happy with smoking joints if it ever became legal (or if you were in Holland).

Sorry about the right-wing-rant, feels a bit bizarre doing it, but at the same time it is truly what I feel. I've reached a point where I'd rather be honest than appear like I have it all together. This is therapy for me! (see how I make jokes to talke away the awkwardness?)

Matt

#13 Alvy

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Posted 13 November 2003 - 04:38 AM

You bally fundamentalist, Matt! Get on your smoking jacket and join us for a cigar, there's a good chap! wink.gif

Seriously, I understand your point of view. I think that despite all the campaigns to increase awareness, folk have a basic belief that "It'll never happen to me." That was how I felt when I smoked regularly (about 4 a day for maybe six months)--the temporary relaxation is far more real than the threat of cancer, in the mind at least.

(Btw, does this mean when we finally meet up sometime, the whole marijuana session I had in mind is off??? laugh.gif)

#14 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 13 November 2003 - 06:06 AM

Gee Matt. My rationalisation is that inhaling is bad (oh Gosh, I feel a Clintonisation coming on), you see.

Alvy, because of the inhale thing, if we ever meet up, we'll have to score a bong.

#15 MattPage

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Posted 13 November 2003 - 07:58 AM

: (Btw, does this mean when we finally meet up sometime, the whole
: marijuana session I had in mind is off??? )

lol

Matt


btw - Alvy Phoenix in Leicester is also Showing Mr. Hulliot & possibly having a Tati season. He's all over the place.

#16 BethR

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 10:27 AM

I mean I wouldn't say its sinful or anything, but it just seems kind of stupid. Smoking has risen loads eventhough we know it kills loads of people. Casual smokers aside I just don't get that, I mean is it willful ignorance, or not being obsessed with worry about dying, or just a desire to feel less pressured by a very harsh world? I am genuinely mystified by the attraction.

It is funny tho when I was growing up I didn't know anyone that smoked (ok a few of the naughty kids at school), but certainly no adults or of my normal friends. Now it seems that everyone seems to enjoy a cigar now and then. Is this a wider social change, church culture change, the reality of being an adult or something else.



I'm with you, Matt. I've never smoked cigarettes (or cigars) and never wanted to. Stupidity and stink have always been major factors, and resistance to the idea of possible addiction to anything, along with family tradition--an immediate & extended family crammed with medical professionals who are all non-smokers and who can describe in dramatic detail the gruesome consequences will put you right off it.

My husband, on the other hand, smoked in high school and in the Air Force, until he had his jaws wired shut after an auto accident. He found himself struggling to inhale through the wires and thought, "How stupid is this?" and just quit cold turkey. For several years before & after we married, he enjoyed the occasional cigar, but they were expensive and when he developed asthma after we lived in LA, he eventually dropped the cigars, too.

We agreed that he wouldn't smoke the cigars in the house. Even he thought they stunk up the place. smile.gif

#17 Thom

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 11:19 AM

(innnnnnnnnhaaaaaale, eeeeeeexhaaaaaale) Ahhh.....

A cool morning walk through the city when the fog has barely lifted from street level. Holding a cup of fresh, steaming hot coffee in one hand and a freshly lit cigarette in the other. A sip of coffee creates a warming effect as it fills the mouth and slowly glides down the throat. The sensation allows you to imagine the exact, anatomical path from the mouth down the esophagus to the stomach. The steamy swallow is followed by a long, lingering drag of the cigarette. A refreshing burst of calmness. Innnnnnhale. Eeeexhale. I know it is the deep breaths that offer the momentary feeling of calm but the cigarette, oh the cigarette, it just goes well with the walk and the coffee.

I used to smoke but gave it up cold turkey after a long battle with salmonella. It was not incredibly difficult by the grace of God. I do still enjoy the occasional cigarette and find absolutely nothing wrong with it and I do not find it to be hazardous to my health. This is definitely a personal decision but when it because a dependency or an addiction then it has also come before God and should be addressed appropriately.

I find it sad that Christians are so judgmental towards people who smoke. I watch people from church sneak outside, around the corner and cross over into the woods simply to have a cigarette. People, people, people we arenít this hard on the person standing next to us sharing tidbits of information regarding another personís life and that is sin!

#18 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 12:06 PM

Nice post Asher! OTOH, I don't see any sin on this thread, just expression of opinion and nobody here is anywhere close to being as dismissive and disdainful as Mom has always been. She has actually backed off in the 11 years that I have indulged the occasional cigar. Middle age confers a sort of independence, even on a son.

#19 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 01:45 PM

I hope for your sake that the coroner finds it wasn't hazardous to your health.


Now whyzat? If the coroner so discovers, his descendants can go to Mississippi and sue for lost income/estate! :twisted:

#20 Cunningham

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 03:36 PM

last night one of my friends and I went out to a hookah bar. Now *that* is how tobacco should be enjoyed. It's like breathing delicious air.