Michael Francis
Michael Francis

Why I hate smokers

My disdain (that borders on a hatred) of smokers has nothing to do with my desire for a nanny state or for social controls to stop smokers from smoking. I really do not mind if people wish to smoke and harm themselves, but the problem is that smokers do not just harm or affect themselves.

There are massive social costs reflected in increased healthcare costs that drain healthcare schemes as well as put a strain on public resources paid for by taxpayers. But all activities do, the act of living puts strain on these resources and one can easily point a finger at obese people, speeders etc that also put extra strains on healthcare systems.

My real disdain starts to kick in when I see pregnant women smoking, people smoking with children in their cars or homes as well as the incessant littering smokers seem obliged to do. I do not wish to share your smoking with you and I do not wish to “enjoy” your cigarette butts presence in the park or at the beach.

Pregnant women that smoke subject their unborn offspring to some real nasty health problems later. These can range from increased asthma, allergies, ADHD, developmental delays and small birth weight. Women that argue “it’s a drug” or “it’s difficult to quit” forget that it’s not about them — it’s about the unborn child who has no choice. The same goes for little children in smoggy cars and homes. Who still does this? Yet, I see it on the roads all the time. An act of abuse and neglect that deserves our scorn and anger.

I also detest the smokers who crowd entrances forming a gauntlet of smog that non-smokers must navigate through to get inside. Would it be too much to ask for smokers to move a few metres away from the doorway? I went to a letting agent yesterday that had an ashtray and table beside their doorway for staff to smoke at. It almost made me want to gag, the smell and cloud of smoke lent an air of cheap tawdriness to the setting.

I also hate the walking down the busy pavement or through a busy market smoker. They emit a trail of exhaust that a diesel truck would be proud of. Could you not stop somewhere out of the way and have a smoke before resuming shopping?

The other big issue is the incessant littering. Cigarette butts are not biodegradable. They plague beaches, parks, sidewalks (pavements here) and every entrance to a building. Why do smokers always just throw them out of their car windows. Cars are still made with ashtrays and smokers never seem to use them.

Throwing butts out the window is selfish and stupid as anyone from Cape Town knows all too well with the fires a few years ago caused by such a selfish act. Yet every day I see smokers throw the butts out of the window. One smoker once remarked to me that she did so because they stink the car up. She was right but missed the fact that she smelled, well, like an old butt.

And that is the real problem for me. Smoking at heart is a selfish activity. Smokers want their fix, but they do not want to respect non-smokers spaces and lives. If you wish to smoke go right ahead, but do so away from the entrance, not in a crowd, not in your car with children and not while pregnant. Every time you light up have a look around and think: who else am I affecting? And if you are pregnant, look down to see whom you are affecting.

  • godfrey khoele

    Seemingly we are good in introducing policies and laws with good intentions but fail to enforce corrective measures or at least adherence to such laws. In the case of smoking, it is with no doubt that people who do not smoke suffers the consequences of actions done by the smokers. Why can’t we just respect the law and stop smoking in public and in situations that would harm our beloved ones such kids. On Wednesday on my way to work in Sunnyside, Pretoria I was following another gentlemen who kept on puffing all the way without considering other pedestrians. I then asked my self a question, why can’t we have the CPF members who are visible in most corners of our cities to enforce the adherence to the law forbidding public smoking? Come on South Africa, let us show to be a moraly sound country, in that way we shall go a long way.

  • Puffing Billy

    There are various responses that come to mind, but none of them will change the opinions of anyone commenting here. Fact is, Michael Francis, that a blog of this nature says nothing new but attracts plenty of commentary, making it look like your thoughts are valuable.

    Try something less trendy and polarised to see if this is indeed the case. Otherwise, you’re wasting everyone’s time.

  • lionel byrne

    Should and when the new health medical care for all kicks in smokers must be charged an extra fee say add 50% ,why because its going to cost a lot more to look after a smokers ailments …

  • C Moon

    Smoking doesn’t bother me – I don’t smoke so therefore the craving doesn’t set in when other smoke around me and I feel the need to protest at the temptation. If somethng is being smoked that I find rather fragrent, hell, I’ll even have a puff.

    However, I do object to the ‘smoke-break’, seemingly necessary and needed, particularly when the workload gets heavy and it is left to the non-smokers – who don’t have recourse to a break regardless of any other addiction they may have. Maybe I’m a sex-addict, can I have the priveledge of a sex break every half-hour or so?

    Though I do find that the ‘smoke-break’ is a right only afforded to, say, ‘management’ type personnel in many cases….

  • Rory Short

    Most smokers are nicotine addicts and thus their behaviour needs to be understood in terms of how people behave when they have an addiction to a substance whatever the substance might be. In my limited experience substance addiction does not naturally give rise to improved social behaviour rather it seems to naturally have the opposite effect as access to the addictive substance becomes the top priority in the life of the addict.

  • hds

    I’ve been surprised by how many young people–many of them well-educated, middle-class kids–I’ve seen smoking. Apparently no one got the memo that not only is it terrible for you, it also stains your teeth, ages your skin and makes your clothes and hair stink.

    It’s not like the health risks are a secret–they’re well known enough, and for long enough, that my granddad stopped smoking in 1958. Smoking was incredibly uncool when I was in high school and college and part of what we associated with being “white trash.”

    I think the same thing here when I see a smoker, you just don’t use the phrase for it.

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/michaelfrancis Michael Francis

    @X – cepting Who is it you are trying to refer to? I doubt I am PC read my blog much?

    I also may read a science column but do not believe every word I read – I am by training and trade a scientists of type (anthropologist – the study of humans) and before that was studying to be an environmental scientist. My views are generally backed by science.

    I fond I am allergic to ignorance. But not your bog standard I do not know something (an integral part of the human condition) but the willful ignorance that takes effort. When a smoker claims that butts do not cause fires and cite their pathetic experiment, when they claim smoking is not bad for you, secondhand smoke is not harmful, etc. The science is in, it is bad for you, bad for others, non-biodegradable, causes fires, etc.

    It is a selfish act to litter, to smoke in the presence of non-smokers, to smoke in busy public areas and so forth.

    I actually feel bad for the decent smokers as they are not noticed as they are doing the right thing. I have loved ones and dear friends that smoke and they do not smoke in their cars, homes or on top of their friends.

    Why cannot the rest of you do the same? Is it some form of denial or is it willful ignorance and selfishness? Ask yourself that next time you light up.

  • Peter Joffe

    There is actually no real proof that smoking causes cancer, but it does damage the blood cells, attacks the immune system and the lungs which were designed to ingest oxygen and not all sorts of other toxins like CO2 and tars.
    I cigarette will reward the smoker with about 3 trillion oxidants/toxins and these attack the healthy cells in the body. A huge amount of anti-oxidants are needed to counteract the poisons that come from cigarettes. As more and more healthy cells in the body are ‘oxidised’, the immune system becomes compromised and diseases such as cancer, diabetes and premature ageing occur. Does this wrooty a smoker? Clearly not as one of them in a comment above says that he has as much chance of being hit by a bus, but then I am sure that if he stood in the middle of the raod and tempted fate, one day he would be flattened. Why take the chance? Quit the habit and be healthier. Please Mr. Cigarette Smoker try this – get a nice clean white handkerchief, take a deep long draw on your fag and then exhale your breath through the hanky. You will be shocked at the filth that is left behind that no cigarette filter can remove. Smell it, it should make you sick.

  • Hugh Robinson

    Funny I have the same feeling about those who drink any form of alcohol. Do you have a beer or two then drive Mike? The chances are that you have more than three then drive.

    You write about smoking and the cost when in truth it is more a selfish, sanctimonious negative that drives the activist non smoker.

    In truth he feels the smell impinges on his lifestyle. The rest of the stats are thrown in to hide the reality of the complaint.

    I know for a fact that a family with an imbiber the chances of disruption and arguments are far greater. That children and wife’s are beaten, whole families destroyed. Divorce is highest in home that use alcohol. Alcohol more often than not leads to loss of income.

    Show us the same within smoking home. I walk to the local store with greater odds of being attacked than dying from second hand smoke.

    On the other side in a home that has drink we have mental health, injury, and more often than not death to others, to top that there is the cost of keeping that person in prison.

    Do some research and see how many in prison blame their criminal activity on substance abuse or drink.

    Despite what you think you know, Drink has caused more death, injury and social disruption than smoking. Sorry to say the anti smoking clan are selective in their use of statistics.

  • Ant

    I don’ smokers, I hate smoking, otherwise I agree with everything you say. It’s an addiction and – as witnessed by some of the invective on this thread – addicts will bring up any justification, however ridiculous, to legitimize their fatal habit.

  • http://hardcopyink.com MLH

    During WWII in the UK, government encouraged adults to smoke because it supressed their appetite and the UK was short of food. Good things like eggs, milk and butter were saved for children.
    As a graphic designer, I cleaned my hands with benzine four to five times a day for 30 years, because no one had yet discovered that benzine is carcenogenic. There were no major headlines to this effect once it became known.
    Many public utility water pipes still have unnacceptable quatities of lead/asbestos. I don’t hear you Michael, where are you? Already in a writing frenzy, I hope?
    Like all young fools, Michael’s world is either black or white. It has no grey areas. Forgive him! I have absolutely no doubt that he uses only a cycle and never a motor vehicle, swam all the way here from Canada, offends no animal with the occasional yen for meat or fish and I’m quite sure he keeps his vegetables in a fenhshwayed refridgerator that is NOT contributing to the hole in the ozone layer. And doesn’t even fart in the loo.
    But while we smokers do away with ourselves quietly, we can take heart that we don’t have to live with Michael, whose parents were probably thrilled to wave him goodbye and must be distraught that he ever learnt to read…let alone write. He is so socially deficient, he thinks he’s perfect! What price that expensive education, Mr and Mrs Francis?

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/michaelfrancis Michael Francis

    @Hugh – why bring up alcohol on a blog about smoking. It is a fool’s tactic to change the topic. Can’t challenge the subject on fact change the topic. Where does my blog support drinking? It is simply about smoking and the selfish acts that arise from it. Challenge these, but of course you cannot. Maybe that galls as you probably smoke and probably litter etc. Trying to rationalise your behaviour instead of looking critically at yourself. And no I do not drink and drive, I do eat red meat, I drive, etc but of course these are all external to the points I make here. Stick on topic please.

  • VSM

    I hate people who hate people……

    Take your car and go have a beer somewhere.
    Or take a flight to a great mountain country.

    Make sure you do not get any kids > any idea how much energy they will use during their lifetime ?

  • joseph gaylard

    this article suggests that the rubric under which these articles are published (‘Thoughtleader’) is in dangerous of serious erosion. An asinine, unoriginal and altogether vacuous piece of writing.

  • Benjy Mudie

    Nice try Michael but no cigar…

  • X Cepting

    Mr Francis, if the shoe fits… The point a lot of smokers and non-smokers are making here is that writing a blog to virulently attack a part of society using arguments that borders on and incites hate speech, is not going to make you popular or serve our society in any way. Just for the record, I only smoke outside and my cigarettes do not have buts since I roll them. I do not fling buts around and put rubbish in dustbins. I have a deep loathing of litterers, whether they smoke or not, and find your assumption that because I am a smoker, I must be a litterer, deeply offensive. There are far more damaging things in our society that really urgently need attention that you could perhaps rather spend your time on? Cig smoke is an irritant like many others used in idustrial processes that people are forced to breathe daily. Why not investigate these?

  • X Cepting

    To avoid another attack, just to explain my first sentence, my comments were directed at those who equate smokers with arch criminals, because a law was passed based on scientific evidence I find flimsy at best and tampered at worst. Force a rat to breathe enough smoke to equate to 30 years worth and, obviously, it will have lung cancer, you might get the same results using braai fire smoke but no-one checked, right? What is interesting and a great example of what I refer to is that the usual bunny hugging PC’s didn’t scream “animal abuse”, but then, the same does not go for rats as what goes for “nice” animals, does it? We do not need to kill them nicely.

  • Herman

    well said X-Creeping. this article is equivalent to starting a racial war. hear me out before you go mad.

    as a reader you are bias to a point of view, your own. in this article we are either against or for smoking. posting something with such a high level of social tension is a sign of ignorance(especially as an anthropologist!) would you post a entry on whether or not Euthanasia as is acceptable? or is Eating Meat the right thing to do? how about recycling? the point is if you want a response from a host of bloggers attaching your person post the controversial topics, but do not get offended when people disagree.

    back to topic now. smoking is a choice. I choose to smoke. I try to smoke out of the way and withing designated areas but people like you make that more and more difficult. South park said it best. Season 10 episode 2. stop sniffing your own farts non smokers and allow smokers to,live their own life.

  • Larry Lachman

    @ X Cepting

    I regard you as one of the most sensible and clear minded commentators and I often look forward to reading your comments on many diverse topics. Take that as a compliment, as there are some blogs on TL that I would not even consider reading.

    It is obvious, however, that you are a smoker and that you feel it necessary to be defensive, using your well practiced ability to reason. If you were not a smoker, you would no doubt be using your well defined ability at reaching common sense instead.

    They say, that there is no-one more moral than a reformed whore; – and here I wonder if Michael is an ex-smoker like myself.

  • Etienne

    I agree Larry.
    I can Xcept that you have the right to smoke. What is not acceptable is forcing the bad habit on non-smokers.
    Michael, threaten the drug user and you will feel his wrath. If you are addicted to smoking you will defend it’s use if only to yourself.

  • X Cepting

    @Larry Lachman & Ettienne – Darn it you’ve got me, cornered rat syndrome. You’re right, smoking, as I pointed out is an irritant like so many others on the market that no-one bothers about because they are necessary and not so obvious as sticking a pile of leaves in your mouth and then setting it alight…

  • Larry Lachman

    @ X Cepting
    Such a clever chap. Such a pity that you cannot help yourself.

  • Stelios

    I also find exhaust fumes just as distasteful. Or is that a necessary evil? When the Internal combustion engine is banned, then I will stop smoking. Period.

  • X Cepting

    @Larry Lachman – To do what?

  • Matthew Knoetze

    I agree with several of the points although I cannot say I hate smokers. I do however wish smokers would consider non-smokers and the environment more. To the person who doesn’t believe a lit cigarette butt cant start a fire if flicked onto dry grass….this is exactly what happened a few years ago in Cape Town. It burnt away half the mountain, evidence of which can still be seen on many hiking trails! Its sad how many Capetonians I see everyday who just flick their cigarette butts out the window. To those smokers who do this, if you do not want to pollute your ashtray with your used cigarettes, how about keeping a 500ml bottle with some water inside in your vehicle. Then you can seal off the stench of a used cigarette and wont generate this severe dislike towards your habit.

  • Larry Lachman

    @ X Cepting – To stop smoking – and to stop trying to justify it.

  • X Cepting

    @Larry Lachman – You have not convinced me that I should. To do that please come up with more solid evidence. No photos of diseased lungs, please, that is just plain bad science that aims to play on people’s emotions. A smoker that also worked in an oil refinery and lived in the city basin has a much bigger chance of getting lung cancer, etc. Cigarette smoke does contain a carcinogen, so does just about everything else. Why single out just one irritant? That is what I mean by bad science. They came to the conclusion and then designed the tests that would “prove” their conclusions. There are happy smokers living in rural areas that live to ripe old age.

  • Larry Lachman

    @ X Cepting

    Now you sound like Dave Harris. Very surprised at you.

  • Larry Lachman

    One word. EMPHYSEMA

  • Alison Rance

    I agree completely with your comments about smokers- everyone else I know is so uncaring about it that I feel like a freak being so disgusted by it. Glad to hear other people feel as strongly.

  • Ava

    “There are massive social costs reflected in increased healthcare costs that drain healthcare schemes as well as put a strain on public resources paid for by taxpayers.” yeah the taxes we pay on the cigarettes we buy! Do you have any idea how much the liquor and tobacco boards tax the ever loving shit out of alcohol and cigarettes? Apparently not. Our health care system is not broken because of smokers, we need a single payer option and to keep those taxes high on cigarettes.