About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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A smoker’s ‘rant’

Two postings last week focused on the harms of smoking. For another point of view, that of the long-time smoker, we offer this e-mail reply. It arrived Saturday from a reader who goes by the name of SassyToday. He or she is unhappy with her smoking habit but resigned to it and tired of being preached at. The capital letters are in the original.

 “I am 50 yrs. old. I’ve been a smoker for 40 years. I’m not DEAD yet, but I NEVER advocate smoking for anyone!   Smoking is nasty…it SMELLS, it’s harmful to health in EVERY way… even mental health. I’ve worked in healthcare for years. I would NEVER encourage anyone to smoke ANYTHING. I know firsthand how horrible it is, but I TRUELY hate seeing all you “superiors” judging the smokers.   HONESTLY, if I drop dead today, does that affect you?  You would MISS me?   I’m not on your healthcare policy, driving your insurance rates up. You don’t have to BURY me. You don’t even know me, and I do not EVER smoke in public places, only outside and in my own home. Have I ever invited you to my home?  

“This smoking rant is just funny now. I have no healthcare, after all my education and jobs, I BARELY make enough to buy cigarettes. I will spare you the rest of my rant. YOU sound like my 21-year-old (non-smoking) daughter. She HATES smoking. OK, I did SOMETHING RIGHT, she doesn’t SMOKE. I’d love to stand on YOUR soapbox for a few minutes, you superior people. After smoking 40 years, smoking isn’t the worst of what I have going on. You just keep on keepin on with YOUR rants. I’d love ONE time to see ONE of you reporters get REAL about YOUR stuff. I know this is HEALTH NEWS… but I’m so TIRED of being bitched at and prosecuted for SMOKING. Yes, I WISH I could quit and I’ve tried.  ONCE, I’d like to see ANY of you Free Lance-Star reporters get real, instead of preaching. I promise, I won’t blow smoke in your face.”  

(The two postings that inspired this e-mail can be seen here and here.)


  • Irritated at excuses

    You are not dead YET! When someone smokes in public they advocate smoking… they are a walking BILLBOARD, If you have smoked for 40 years I find it hard to believe you NEVER do it in public. you are ENCOURAGING everyone to smoke CIGARETTES!! We are not SUPERIORS, some of US are FORMER smokers, who SUCKED IT UP and quit, yes it was HARD. SMOKERS drive up costs of MEDICARE or other free health care for those who dont have insurance and end up with CANCER!!!!. You are not inviting me into your home YET! if you continue to smoke, you are inviting HOSPICE… paid for by TAXPAYERS and donations of OTHERS…..ME!
    The smoking Rant is not funny, it is ridiculous!
    THE DAUGHTER did something right not YOU! 40 years of smoking and you TRIED to quit…. TRY AGAIN! Its SELFISH. I am a former smoker who quit for the love of family and Life. If I can do it anyone can…you are only angry because you don’t want to quit, or you are weak minded! The reporters are doing they’re jobs! If you are tired of being “bitched at” QUIT!!!! Otherwise, better get some good boxing gloves, and head gear!!! Better yet, an insurance plan, I am tired of my tax money going toward free health care for people who do not practice living a healthy lifestyle!!!!

  • another smoker

    To irritated at excuses. Sassy said they were not on YOUR healthcare. Get off your soapbox. You quit congrats now quit looking down on people. Try instead to volunteer your free time helping those that were unable to quit.

  • Get Over It

    Just because you were able to quit truly doesn’t mean anyone can. We’re all individuals. Obese people also drive up the cost of health care. Do you go to restaurants & give them dirty looks or tell them to stop eating so much? I doubt it. Where do you draw the line? Why is it any different? As a former smoker, I think most of us who used to smoke become the most self righteous about smoking. It’s ridiculous. I like to think your average person is intelligent enough not to want to smoke because they see a 50 year old person doing it. Really, your arguments are selective. Be concerned with your health & that of your family. Leave adults who are doing something perfectly legal alone.

  • Get Over It

    Irritated, you also might want to calm down a little. You seem a bit high strung, judging by your over use of the caps button.


    I’m so glad someone finally said what was on the tip of my tongue! I am a former smoker and I have shared sassy’s viewpoint through smoking, quiting, and now continuing not to smoke. Quit treating smokers like petty criminals!

  • Irritated at excuses

    When my tax money pays for you to go to the ER, because you do not have health care… it IS my health care.And yes she can quit, everyone can. Its not like breathing, you can simply not buy them and not smoke. This is not a rant for the over eater, it is about smoking.You have to have food to live, making better choices is a different argument The only good cigarette choice is to none at all . I am not looking down, I am saying I have been there and done that… no excuses…Do it already! Do it for yourself and quit whining. That’s whats wrong with this country is we “comfort” everyone. Tough love is what is needed.The looks and the comments were beneficial in my quitting.
    When my children see celebrities and people on the street smoke, It can be enticing to see someone blow smoke out of their mouth…cool to a 6 year old. Just because it is legal does not mean it is OK. Quitting was hard, I have a right to be “self Righteous” as you call it…I am an example that ANYONE can quit. I just had to stop buying them! Any my over use of the caps….were you not reading the same rant ?

  • Get Over It

    Yes, you do have to have food to live but eating too much of the wrong thing is just as harmful as smoking. That would be considered a bad choice, would it not? Wouldn’t you consider that “your healthcare” too? Yet you say nothing to obese people. Why go after only one group who makes what you consider to be unhealthy choices? It’s a bit selective, isn’t it? I think once you start trying to police other people’s habits & lifestyles it can get out of control quickly. No one has the right to be self righteous. I don’t care if you quit. So did I. Yippee for us. Other people have the right to smoke if they choose. If an adult wants to smoke, it’s none of my -or your- business. As for children, it’s not the world’s job to make sure other people’s children don’t smoke. That starts & ends at home. I have a child but I know it’s up to me.

  • brandonj

    To the 50 year old Smoker:
    Not all of us are “holier than thou” preaching to you about the evils of smoking while having no idea what it’s like to be hooked on cigarettes. I smoked for 17 years. No, it’s not 40 years, but it’s still a significant chunk of time. I wish I had never smoked, but what’s done is done, and I was able to quit 3 years ago. I tried to quit at least 12 times before I was successful. My point is that YOU CAN quit, but you can’t if you don’t believe you can. It’s an addiction and it can be overcome. If you CHOSE not to quit and want to kill yourself this way, that’s fine. But please don’t try to say that your habit isn’t affecting others. If you have no healthcare and can barely afford cigarettes, then your healthcare when you wind up with emphysema or COPD or Lung Cancer, or whatever is going to be paid by taxpayers and those who have insurance. If you can’t pay, someone else has to. And your 21 year old daughter and/or other family may have to take care of you in your final days and live without you when you’re gone. Bottom line, it’s a choice you make-you are not helpless against your addiction, and your addiction affects others, no matter how hard you try to keep it from doing so. But the choice is yours-good luck.

  • LarryG

    I’ve quit cigarettes twice and cigars twice (inhaled them). I have not smoked in a while but the only way I ever had any luck was cold turkey and 3 of the 4 times occurred when I went on a multi-week wilderness trip – ran out of smokes… suffered for a few days and then returned to civilization thankful that I had stopped.

    I won’t start again because I know how hard it is to quit so I’m pretty sympathetic to those that smoke – many would quit but it is powerfully addicting.

    But you’re fooling yourself if you think it won’t cost others. It will.. even if you have insurance because you’re one of the ones that ultimately drives the costs up when you finally do need very expensive medical care – even if it is not for Cancer but cardiovascular; smoking destroys your cardiovascular system also and when you die – as we all will – the way you die as a smoker can be pretty ugly if you do’t die quick.

    But for all you ex-smokers out there I have a really ugly hypothetic question.

    What if they made a cigarette or cigar that would not cause cancer or alternatively a cure was found for lung cancer, etc, you get my drift.

    How many would go back to smoking?

    see… I told you it was an ugly question!!!!


  • Irritated at excuses

    Not all obesity is caused from overeating. For some it can be a medical issues, some it could be injury. I have seen my share of combat injured Marines who are now overweight due to physical impairment…. you’re right I don’t dare say anything to the over wieght, because I dont know the cause. However I will always see smoking as bad….because smoking is well, bad.

  • bvandivert

    In reply to the letter writer’s question, “HONESTLY, if I drop dead today, does that affect you? You would MISS me? ” My answer, to be blunt, would be NO and NO. Your dropping dead isn’t the issue however. My great-grandfather died in 1973 from emphysema after smoking for about 60 years. He had an agonizing existence for a relatively brief period of time and passed away at home one night. His healthcare expenses were minimal, because there was little that could be done back then. Today, emphysema patients are living much longer with better quality of life, but at a tremendous cost. So, the real issue is, if you get emphysema or another smoking related disease-are you going to want treatment and medication to extend your life and improve your quality of life? If so, then your habit most certainly is affecting those who pay insurance premiums and really, all taxpayers. Who do you think pays for Medicare? You said you worked in healthcare, don’t you realize that when a medical facility loses money on a patient because they can’t pay, it gets factored into the cost of doing business, which results in higher charges to patients who can pay and insurance companies, which results in higher premiums? If you decline treatment and suffer at home until you die or call Dr. Kevorkian, then your argument about not affecting others or their healthcare premiums is valid. Otherwise, it doesn’t even come close to holding water. The problem in this country is everyone is so self-centered-it’s all about I, I, I, me, me, me and the “choices” I should get to make. I’m fine with people having choices, but I don’t think that ANYONE should choose to engage in unhealthy habits, be they smoking, over eating, drinking, drugging, promiscuity, etc and then expect top notch treatment at others’ expense when their habits catch up with them. We will NEVER realize true healthcare reform in this country until people start being accountable for their actions and quit dismissing irresponsibility as a choice which we must all support.

  • jj

    I’m a former smoker so there’s no soapbox for me to get on because I remember vividly how much I truly enjoyed smoking and how hard it was to kick the habit. I understand the appeal. I’ll always be a recovering smoker just as an alcoholic is in constant recovery. I fully support a person’s right to live as they choose, but don’t kid yourself. Smoking drives up healthcare costs for everybody so in a way we all pay the price for smokers. Just because you don’t have any ill effects from it yet doesn’t mean you won’t. Smoke all you want but don’t expect a pat on the back for it, especially in the health section. The agitation you feel sounds like the article struck a nerve – maybe you need to look inwardly to find out who needs to “get real.” And LarryG – yes, if there was a cigarette that was 100% safe I’d be the first in line!

  • Driscoll

    Smoking proves that evolution still operates – the nonsurvival of the stupidest.

  • derarzt

    1) Tax tobacco companies to pay for the care of smoking related illnesses, or 2) exempt tobacco related illness from health insurance benefits, & make ill smokers pay out of pocket, or go without treatment 3) for those over 18, tobacco is a legal product 4) raise taxes on pack cigs to realistic levels to cover cost of smoking related illness 5) smokers DO remove themselves from pool of potential Medicare/Soc Sec beneficiaries, thus saving those programs money 6) I support your free choice, as long as your free choice does not carry obligations for me that I don’t agree to.

  • LarryG

    pretty tough there Derarzt but I generally support it with some reservations. What would you do with those who quit?

    I don’t think we can or should turn down treatment but I’m pretty much for tagging any illness that is, in the opinion of the physician, due to smoking – added to the tally of costs that are then added to the cost of cigarettes until we reach rough parity between what smokers pay for cigarettes and what smokers subsequently need in health care. Let’s call it an insurance fund and the premiums are in the cost of the cigarettes.

    I’d be curious to know what the actual medical costs per pack of cigarettes really is.

    anyone have any ideas?

    Is it $5 or $10 ? more? less?

    interestingly enough – the Domenici / Rivlin balanced budget plan recommended that a tax be put on sugar drinks to pay for the health care costs of obese and those with diabetes.

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