Up in Smoke?
Am I a bad person because I smoke?
BY: Joseph Telushkin
On the other hand, because smoking is so likely to harm smokers, I would regard a person who participated in an ad campaign to convince non-smokers, particularly minors, to start smoking to be doing something evil. I also think it wise for parents to draw up contracts with their children to pay them a certain amount of money - and it should not be a trivial sum - if they reach the age of twenty-one without taking up this addictive habit: Research shows that people who don't become addicted to cigarettes by twenty-one are unlikely to ever do so. But I nonetheless remain increasingly annoyed at the campaign to demonize smokers as people without moral character or backbone. It has now become common in many schools to tell young children that nicotine is an addictive drug just like other, illegal, addictive drugs. Such misleading teachings have the effect not of making nicotine seem horrific but of making drugs like heroin seem not so bad; after all, many of these children see their parents smoke without otherwise acting irresponsibly or out of control. I suspect that children whose parents indulge in heroin and other illegal drugs have far worse memories of their childhood than do children whose parents smoke cigarettes.
If people complain about your smoking in a restaurant that has set aside an area in which smokers are permitted to smoke, I believe it is their responsibility to move, not yours. Obviously, if somebody is bothered by your smoking in a home you are visiting, or if somebody is visiting your home and complains about the smoke, common courtesy dictates that you not do so. Also, because many people bothered by smoke might be hesitant to complain, particularly if they are in your house, I believe you should ask visitors if it will bother them if you smoke.
At a time when the antismoking campaign has become so widespread, one point must be emphasized over and over again: Smoking is a health issue, not a moral one. I would therefore suggest that you try many techniques to rid yourself of this bad habit, except one: thinking of yourself as a bad person because you smoke.