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Smoking – A Dangerous Habit

Smoking is one of the most dangerous habits to pick up for a person and it is even more dangerous for people with asthma or heart problems. Smoking includes products filled with tobacco and is inhaled into the lungs through a cigarette, pipe, cigar or bongs. The most popular form of nicotine smoking today involves the cigarette. It is so popular that over one billion people across the world partake in smoking tobacco.

Smoking is a major health risk because it can cause heart attacks, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and even cause birth defects of children born from women who smoked while pregnant. Smoking firsthand is not the only danger. Secondhand smoke has also led to the aforementioned conditions of people who do not smoke but are in the company of those who do smoke. The dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke have forced many cities and even states within the United States to create public smoking bans. Many bans have made it illegal to smoke in restaurants, bars, casinos and arenas, where smoking once was permitted inside the buildings.

Smoking has become such an important discussion because of its side effects that any advertisements promoting smoking, cigarettes, or tobacco products have been banned from television and magazines. The death rate in the United States from smoking has reached almost 500,000 deaths per year and some experts predict that 1/3 of Chinese men will have their lives shortened because of complications from smoking.

Smoking has been traced back to as early as 5,000 BC and once it was introduced to Americans it started to make appearances in art paintings across America and Europe. Figures in the paintings would be simply holding a lit cigarette or be smoking from it in the painting. Smoking also has made countless appearances in other areas of popular culture. Smoking is extremely prominent in films and literature. The most famous movie star smoker was Humphrey Bogart and the most famous literature character smoker was Sherlock Holmes.

It is estimated by doctors across the globe that people who smoke will live somewhere between 2.5 to 10 years less than non-smokers. Close to one-half of male smokers will die due to an illness from smoking. The main forms of cancer caused by smoking are lung, kidney, breast, larynx, bladder, esophagus and colorectal cancer.

Smoking is also linked to cardiovascular disease because several of the ingredients in the tobacco cause a narrowing of the blood vessels, which increases the likelihood of a blockage within the arteries, which in turn can cause a stroke or a heart attack. Smoking or chewing tobacco can also cause oral cancer while also deteriorating the teeth and the gums.

For once it was nice not care about the have-to. I would finish school soon enough. There was no choice there, I knew that. But I was going to take the fall semester off. I’d get it all cheap bongs back together after the holidays and be back in form by Jan-term. For now, though, I was going to let it all go-at least for a while. With this thought, I released my abs and let my new paunch see the world for the first time. Normally a binding waistband would have sent me into an obsessive, one-Frosted-Mini-Wheat-a-day diet. But this was the new me, at least for a while.

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I felt like I had started a new chapter. The part of the story where the heroine spirals into some sort of disgusting, addictive or slutty behavior and the reader panics wondering how she’ll ever pull it together. But for me, it was a journey I looked forward to. Because I knew I could write the next chapter. Perhaps I’d go back to teaching aerobics, join a rolling blade hockey team, or take up mountain biking and meet some rough-n-tumble boy with big hands and a great laugh on the trail. But for now, my role as a foul mouthed, beer swilling, French fry snatching waitress was, well, fun.

Once I became a fully trained server, I was surprised at how patient all the managers and other servers were with me and my complete lack of experience, organization, balance, memory, comprehension, ability to read my own scribble or work a touch screen, as well as my general indifference toward customers. It was a laid-back place and most of my superiors did bong hits in the basement before shifts so my inadequacies seemed to coast just below the blip screen. And to make things even more amazingly wonderful, my friend Sally-a fellow ex-bakery cashier and cookie breaker-was promoted to server at the same time. She too was taking some time off from college. Now, the others just referred to me as one of the tards as opposed to the tard. (Their word, not mine.)

Sally and I were never scheduled for the same shift for obvious reasons, but we’d trade shifts with people at the last second so we could work together, and get bloated-er at the bar after work on pints, bread and olive oil and cold French fries. I knew how good life was, and I did not take one second of this for granted.

One Saturday lunch shift, Sally tripped over nothing and dumped a cocktail tray carrying seven pints of beer into her chest. Her white golf shirt was now a wet clingy translucent yellow sheath revealing her big pointy granny bra. (She had packed her cookie weight onto her bosom.) I ran from the other side of the dining room to help her pick up the broken glass, and we laugh and laughed. Unable to compose ourselves, we were asked (told) to clock out and go home early. Which translated to us as “pretend to clock out (you can always say you didn’t know how later), dry off Sally’s shirt under the ladies’ room hand-dryer and go next door to the taco place and eat three baskets of chips and two bowls of cheese dip.”

Over on-the-rocks, extra-salt margaritas, we had another irrepressible giggle fit when Sally stopped crunching her chips, paused for thoughtful moment and announced that if she sat still enough she could smell her own hair. We’d been out late the night before watching a band, again, and neither of us had showered that morning before our shift, again. This little chunk of life was worth savoring. Hygiene could wait.

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