We all know that smoking is bad for your lungs and is one of the leading causes of death due to lung cancer, but what do we know about the smoking habits of the casual smoker? This random interview reveals how a casual smoker got started with his first cigarette and his opinions on the act of social smoking.
Daclaud Lee: Today’s guest is The Social Cigarette Smoker. My first question is, how often do you have to smoke, or rather how often do you not have to smoke, in order to be classified as a “social” smoker?
The Casual Cigarette Smoker (TSCS): The most common answer is “I only smoke when I drink”, but I tend to smoke whenever I want, but mostly when I’m drinking or with a friend who smokes.
DL: So you don’t think you’re addicted to nicotine, cigarettes or smoking?
TSCS: No I don’t believe I’m addicted to any of these things. Sure I have the urge to light up every now and then, but for the most part I don’t smoke. I once even asked my insurance agent if he wanted to classify me as a smoker and he laughed and told me I didn’t need to say I was a smoker, because he didn’t believe I was. I can easily quit for several months, whereas a smoker who is addiction may need at least one cigarette a day.
DL: I was actually under the impression that you may have been in denial of the addiction.
TSCS: Maybe I am in denial? I mean even though I don’t smoke that often, I really can’t stop now can I? At least not permanently I mean.
DL: That’s a good point. So how long can you go without smoking?
TSCS: I once tried for an entire year, but I didn’t quite make it. The longest I’ve gone is about nine months straight, but that was a long time ago. For the most part, I usually go a month, a couple of months or several months without smoking. If I buy a pack of smokes, they can usually last me for several weeks to a month. Then I stop for a while. There are guys and gals out there who smoke a pack a day or more, but I never became one of them. In a way, I kind of conditioned myself to know that smoking bad, but I still do every now and then, in moderation of course.
I mean it wasn’t always this good, and my smoking habits were at its worst when I was dating a gal who would smoke a pack a day. We were in our early 20’s back then and she was the heaviest smoker I had ever dated in my life. Thankfully she was the only one. I mean, Christ, she was a freaking chain smoker! For the most part, the other girls I’ve dated din’t smoke, which is a good thing. I would say that 80% of the girls I’ve dated didn’t smoke.
Above: This was what my ex-girlfriend’s ashtray ALWAYS looked like!
DL: It seemed like you may have been a victim of peer pressure, or rather significant-other pressure to smoke.
TSCS: Yeah, maybe. But as soon as we split up, my smoking habits dropped to every once in a while again.
DL: How old were you when you first started smoking?
TSCS: The very first time? I can’t remember. I think I stole my first cigarette from one of my dad’s friends when I was 8 or 9 years old. I remember lighting up outside in the backyard when my dad was at work, but I didn’t inhale. I wasn’t sure I liked it at the time, but blowing smoke out of my mouth looked really cool at the time. I think my grandma who was living with us at the time may have caught me and scolded me about lung cancer and how I shouldn’t ever do that again. Lucky for me she didn’t tell my parents, or otherwise I would have gotten a beating!
Above: I was just as hardcore as this kid; I didn’t inhale!
DL: Like any good parent would have done, but at least your grandma was cool about it.
TSCS: Yeah. The first time I inhaled a cigarette was when I was 15. You see I had a friend in high school who was 16 and had a car and he would go through the local drive through to buy his cigarettes. I saw him smoke and I decided to try for myself. My very first cigarette was a Marlboro Light and that was the choice cigarette among my friends. By the time I was 16 and had my license, I did the same thing. The guy at the drive through never checked ID, ever.
Above: Malboro Lights were probably every Asian dude’s cigarettes back in the late 90’s
DL: So you’ve technically been smoking since you were 15? Was there a time you decided to stop? Did it ever get out of control?
TSCS: Yeah, on and off throughout the years. It only got out of control when I was out drinking at the dance clubs, mainly because I couldn’t drink, so what else could you do except smoke? I think it also went out of control after I watched Cowboy Bebop for the first time; that’s an anime by the way, where the main character smokes like a mofo.
DL: I’m familiar with it. It was also one of my favorite anime.
Above: Spike from Cowboy Bebop smoking.
TSCS: When I was a sophomore in college I quit for a while. A girl I had a crush on encouraged me to stop and so I did. I might have been addicted at the time, because I was always itching to have one. That was the year I went 9 months without a cigarette. I did it for her. Then I met my first real girlfriend, the girl I was talking about earlier and I guess I started smoking again out of necessity and “peer pressure” as you mentioned. The year I met her was actually the year they banned smoking in restaurants and bars all over Columbus Ohio, but that didn’t stop certain establishments from hiding it. Even though I was a smoker, I thought it was for the best.
DL: I heard they banned smoking on college campuses a few years ago. What is your opinion on this?
TSCS: I think it’s for the best in public health, but I graduated so long ago. It almost seemed normal back in those days for college students to be walking around campus and standing outside the buildings smoking cigarettes. There used to be ash trays everywhere.
DL: Do you like smoking or the taste or the act of doing it? Also, what is your favorite cigarette brand?
TSCS: I would have to go with Marlboro NXT as my favorite brand if I had to choose. It’s always convenient to be able to switch from a regular smoke to menthol. I can honestly say that I do like the taste of tobacco; not all the time, but every now and then. There are days when I’ll have a pack of smokes in the house and I won’t even touch it because I’m not in the mood and I actually feel like I “hate” the taste. I know it sounds odd, but this is really how it is with me. It’s like I’m a bipolar smoker or something, right? (both DL and TSCS laughs out loud)
As for the act of doing it, I only thought it was “cool” when I was in my teens and real early twenties. I don’t think it’s really cool right now.
DL: How do you feel about smoking at hookah lounges?
TSCS: You know, I’ve never had much of a desire to go to hookah lounges. I guess I’m turned off by the social aspect of smoking without alcohol involved. I guess it’s popular with some people and the trend seems to still be going strong. I just never had an interest in hookah. I mean, I’ve been on several hookah dates before where I would just go out and chill with a girl I met, but those hookah places are just too sober for me; I know that probably makes me sound like an alcoholic or something (laughs), but I really don’t go out to drink much, maybe like once a month or once every other month.
DL: Do you ever think you’ll quit smoking entirely?
TSCS: Maybe not entirely. at least not yet. I mean, I tried e-cigs for the first time in 2014. I was a bit late in jumping onto the band wagon, but I never had the urge to buy one. My first e-cigarette was given to me by a Camel marketing rep at Hound Dogs Pizza after I let her scan my driver’s license. It was whatever Camel’s brand is. I liked it, but the damned thing thing would only last about a week before you had to buy refill cartridges. The e-cigarette actually became more expensive (at least for me) than regular cigarettes, which is why I stopped using it. I may have made a total of three cartridge purchases before calling it quits.
I don’t go out much anymore, but every now and then, I still have the urge to go to the bar and drink. so I’ll buy a pack of smokes to complement my drinking. That pack of smokes usually lasts me a week or two afterwards, the most smoking I’d be doing would be while I was actually at the bar. Finishing the pack would take me a while and there would be days when I don’t even have the urge to smoke. Maybe if given a reason, or when I’m older, like in my 40’s or 50’s, I might find that reason to quit smoking, but I’m still relatively young right now, so I can afford to light up every now and then, but cigarettes are bad for your health, you know it and I know it. Why do I still smoke? I don’t know. I just do it because I want to.
DL: Thank you for the interview and just like The Social Cigarette Smoker said; “cigarettes are indeed bad for your health”. I suppose the best way to quit smoking is to not start. That’s all for today!