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Smoking and classism

Okay you guys, we have to talk about something.

Yesterday Greenhunk made an offhanded comment on a post on the main site about smoking and how it disgusts him. (This is because it's actually a trigger for him personally and he, like all of us, has a harder time trying to understand the other side when it's a trigger. But that still doesn't excuse it.) Anyway, his comment made me realize that this is a discussion GT needs to have. We need to address the attitudes that those of us who don't smoke might have toward those who do, why we have them, and what that means.

First of all, why do people start smoking? I made a judgment yesterday by saying that I don't understand people who start smoking "because it looks cool," but that's probably not the reason most people started smoking. So I started thinking about people I know who smoke. And I realized that some of them grew up around smoking and were exposed to second-hand smoke. And some of them deal with depression, and some of them have told me about someone whose attention they valued or needed who smoked, and some of them were abused. And even if they told me they started "because it looks cool," that probably wasn't the real reason, or at least not the complete reason.


What does our attitude of disgust toward smokers mean? Well, as FrogAndToadForever pointed out, it's in some ways a class thing, in the same way as so many people judge based on weight. "Classy people don't smoke," is the unspoken message. "It's disgusting, it's stupid, it wastes money." And so we have this implication, once again, that "poor people deserve to be poor because they make poor choices." I've actually heard my mom say this about people she knows who are poor and smoke. But I remember what it was like to be poor, and I have a lot of friends who grew up even more poor than me, and from what I've seen and experienced the number one most difficult thing about being poor is that you feel like it's never going to get better and it just doesn't matter.

Those of us who don't struggle with an addiction sometimes have a difficult time understanding addiction. But that doesn't mean we can just give ourselves a free pass to not try.

Please, those of you here on GT who do smoke or have smoked, feel free to correct me if I got anything wrong and add your own stories and comments.

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