Some claim they saw it coming. Smoking is bad for you; don’t do it. Next came the news that secondhand smoke will harm those around you; so don’t do it. Now there’s “thirdhand-smoke.” Don’t smoke in your own domain, because if and when you move, the smoke particles will linger, and that will eventually cause harm to whomever might move into your home years from now.
You’ve got to be kidding!
Making an argument “for” smoking is actually quite easy when you consider how many famous, creative and productive people smoked. Even the president of our country was once a smoker, although you seldom saw Obama with a cigarette in hand.
Entertainers are prolific smokers. Or, at least were, while they were still alive. Just a few were Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., John Wayne, Jimmy Hendrix, Laurence Olivier and George Harrison. Betty Davis was a heavy smoker and the famous 1980s song, “Betty Davis Eyes” was sung by Kim Karnes whose trademark raspy voice was, according to Karnes, the result of singing in smoky nightclubs.
It’s hard to imagine the father of sci-fi television not giving his famous introduction to each episode without a cigarette. The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling smoked up to five packs a day. He died in 1975 at the age of 50, but it was nicotine that fueled early television.
Perhaps the single most cool fictional character of all time was a heavy smoker. Any reader of Ian Fleming’s James Bond will tell you that Agent 007 smoked up to three and a half packs a day, but did attempt to cut down in several novels, including Thunderball, when his boss sends him to a health clinic.
Yul Brynner was a five-pack-a-day man and made one of the most famous anti-smoking commercials of all time. Brynner, who made the shaved head look cool before Michael Jordan, filmed his “cigarettes are bad” commercial with the express intent of airing it after he died.
But the dangers of smoking never stopped many smart people, and they don’t get any smarter than Einstein, who smoked a pipe. You still see pipes for sale in some smoke shops, but you have to find your own tobacco for those.
General Ulysses S. Grant chain-smoked cigars, as did Winston Churchill. Franklin D. Roosevelt chain-smoked cigarettes and loved the company of Churchill; especially when they’d lay the groundwork for defeating Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Fascist Italy, all of whom were led, by the way, by three vehement non-smokers, Adolph Hitler, Emperor Hirohito and Mussolini. Also on the winning team was the chain-smoking Joseph Stalin, who, like his peers of World War II, wasn’t exactly in contention for a beauty contest.
But the beautiful people love smoking just as much. James Dean and Marilyn Monroe were in the club, just as are today’s Johnny Depp and Kate Moss. In fact, smoking amongst models remains almost as essential to their craft as bulimia.
Two of the funniest people of all time, Groucho Marx and Lucille Ball, smoked compulsively, and actually lived long lives making people laugh for many years. A not so funny Marx named Karl smoked, as did the equally humorless Vladimir Lenin, who is not the least bit missed, as contrasted by the other Lennon named John, who wrote songs with Paul McCartney, who nobody would confuse with Joseph McCarthy, who hated most of all the commies such as Marx and Lenin, and yet they all smoked hardily.
Of course, there’s nothing funny about taking up the habit at too young an age. Take 2-year-old Ardi Rizal in Indonesia, who smoked two packs a day till he finally quit. Ardi and his parents finally got help after YouTube videos created a worldwide furor. Speaking of furors, the aforementioned Hitler was the most notorious and adamant non-smoker in history.
The infamous dictator literally wouldn’t let anyone even talk about the topic of cigarettes in his presence. Talk about your “smoke Nazi.” But some of the most selfless figures such as JFK, LBJ and MLK smoked, as did Mark Twain, who once said, “It’s easy to quit smoking ... I’ve done it thousands of times.”
The American Cancer Society will remind us that close to a half a million Americans die every year because of tobacco. What they don’t tell us is four times that many die every year who don’t smoke. They also claim tobacco kills more Americans than car accidents, suicide, AIDS and homicides combined. But wouldn’t you rather die of tobacco?
We get it already ... it’s bad for you and will most likely kill you sooner than later. But sometimes the candle, or cigarette, that burns half as long can burn twice as bright.
Hendrix lived long enough to play the National anthem at Woodstock, and Churchill survived Hitler. James Bond always got the bad guy, and the hot chick, while Einstein proved time is relative, which means if smokers can find a way to travel the speed of light, they’ll outlive all those pains in the “butt” telling them that smoking will kill them.