Social Question

borderline_blonde's avatar

Why do complete strangers feel it's okay to comment on someone else's habit?

Asked by borderline_blonde (1676points) February 8th, 2010

I’m a smoker, and a conscientious one: if I’m smoking in public, I do it in designated areas and only if there’s plenty of air and room around me that nonsmokers can avoid it. Now, the air in Los Angeles is teeming with pollution, but I don’t go up to drivers and tell them to cut their engines. Trans fats clog arteries but I don’t approach overweight people and ask them why they’re snacking on a Twinkie. Yet for some reason, complete strangers seem to like to come up to me and tell me how bad smoking is for my health. Today, some guy walked out of his way to tell me that I was killing myself (In reply, I asked him if he wanted a medal for stating the obvious, but that’s besides the point). This is far from being the first time this has happened to me.

Similarly, a few weeks ago I was with a friend of mine when someone she didn’t know approached us and said to her “It’s called ProActiv.”

So my question is: Why do people feel it’s okay to approach complete strangers and comment on their habit/physical characteristics/whatever? Do they really think they’re going to make a difference in someone’s life, or are they just out on some type of moral crusade? Neither?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

108 Answers

ninjacolin's avatar

because apparently you don’t know how to quit.

Likeradar's avatar

Because they’re asses with an inflated sense of self importance.

Really, I’m trying to think of a better answer. I just don’t think there is one.

“It’s called proactive”... REALLY??! BITCH!!!

ninjacolin's avatar

lol. what you’re commenting on is entirely a positive thing. someone is trying to help you.

there’s nothing negative about their behavior except your own sense of guilt.

ninjacolin's avatar

correction, i shouldn’t say “nothing negative”.. obviously their delivery sucked if you were only aggravated by it.

the reason people suck at selling you on a quit method is because not everyone knows how to persuade people in positive ways. however, what they’re trying to persuade you towards is a positive thing.

Darwin's avatar

From what I can tell, they do indeed think they can help you realize the error of your ways. Unfortunately for them, you can eventually quit (and I hope you are able to some day) but they can’t get smarter.

They mean well. They just aren’t too bright.

borderline_blonde's avatar

@ninjacolin Yes, but these are strangers that have no emotional investment in my health. Furthermore, they seem to think that I don’t know smoking is bad for my health, despite being consistently bombarded with studies and media that tell me it is. I find it insulting and I have no patience for the idiocy of it.

@Likeradar Yup, that actually was said! I couldn’t believe it!

ninjacolin's avatar

@borderline_blonde “they seem to think that I don’t know smoking is bad for my health, despite being consistently bombarded with studies and media that tell me it is. I find it insulting and I have no patience for the idiocy of it.”

they why don’t you quit smoking?

tb1570's avatar

I think it’s even funnier when fat people tell you smoking is bad for your health.

borderline_blonde's avatar

@ninjacolin Because I don’t want to. I enjoy doing it. We all kick the bucket someday. So if I get lung cancer when I’m 80, it’ll just be shortly before the heart attack gets me two years later. It’s my own personal decision.

ninjacolin's avatar

aha, then the real question you seem to be asking is this:

“why do people assume I want to quit?”

rangerr's avatar

Because people suck.

Merriment's avatar

People are encouraged by everything around them to mind other people’s business rather than put the focus on their own lives.

They aren’t being “helpful” or “kind” they are being rude and pushy. Seriously, how many of us smoker’s have failed to get the news that “smoking is bad for you”? What an insulting and patronizing attitude.

Some people really like to think that they have the answer to everybody else’s issues…sad thing is that certainty usually keeps them from realizing that working on themselves would be the very best contribution they could make to the world at large.

I don’t mind when they do this though, I just spark up and blow a big cloud of second hand smoke right at their sanctimonious gobs.

borderline_blonde's avatar

@ninjacolin Fair enough, but I’m asking it from a broader view, too. This isn’t just about my smoking. It’s like going up to an overweight chick and telling her “you’d be really pretty if you’d just lose a few pounds.” The overweight girl probably knows she should lose weight. I’m wondering why people state the obvious when (at least in my opinion) it seems rude to do so.

Merriment's avatar

@ninjacolin How would you like it if I were to decide that some facet of your personal habit was “detrimental” to your continuing health and presume to lecture you? I doubt if you would be 100% open to the experience if it were about something you felt was none of my business. That smoking is the current “hot topic” that people use to bludgeon their points of view over the heads of strangers is irrelevant to the real issue.

Likeradar's avatar

Everyone who is making this about the OP smoking- have you ever been addicted to nicotine? Quitting is really fucking hard. Smokers know the dangers. We know. People harping on it does nothing for most smokers aside from annoy us.

Strangers who do this crap may have perfectly lovely intentions. What they seem to be missing is the idea that they are strangers. A loved one talking compassionately about how you’re treating yourself is one thing. A stranger giving unsolicited advice is annoying, rude, and gives the impression that they have been graced with some superior knowledge that they’re doing you the wonderful favor of imparting upon you- someone they have no connection to or background knowledge of. And that is arrogant and lame.

borderline_blonde's avatar

@Likeradar A stranger giving unsolicited advice is annoying, rude, and gives the impression that they have been graced with some superior knowledge that they’re doing you the wonderful favor of imparting upon you Exactly how I feel, only placed into much better words :)

HTDC's avatar

I think smoking is put in a category of it’s own of unacceptable social behaviours. There is a culture that says it’s okay to advise others on their smoking habits and to approach those smoking to do it elsewhere, because it affects someone else’s health, not just their own.

The same can be said for cars but since nearly everyone drives one nobody is going to rant about how bad it is for you to drive in something that expels so much carbon dioxide. Same with people who eat fatty foods, since most of us do that anyway, no one will get out of their way to tell you to stop eating it, plus it would be considered offensive or hypocritical.

It’s society that encourages this “no tolerance” approach to smoking in public.

snowberry's avatar

It makes my husband and me sick to smell cigarette smoke. Even if you’re sitting in a designated smoking area, you have no control where your smoke goes. Last fall we went to a Renaissance festival. It was pretty easy to dodge the blacksmith, but you could NOT get away from the smokers. We were only there for a few hours, and we had to leave because his asthma kicked in. I only got away with a sore throat which went away after a few hours. It made us really sad and angry because those tickets are pretty expensive.

Oxymoron's avatar

I’m guessing people say things about smoking because they don’t understand why you do it. With all of the knowledge out there today about the effects of smoking, there’s no excuse. Not that I would say anything, but I’m sure that’s what they’re thinking.

Darwin's avatar

“So if I get lung cancer when I’m 80, it’ll just be shortly before the heart attack gets me two years later.”

Why do smokers assume that they won’t get lung cancer until they are 80? All the folks I have known who have had lung cancer probably because they were also smokers have been younger than 50.

In any case, smoking is one of the hardest habits to break, because you have both chemical addiction to nicotine and also the habituation to the whole process of lighting up and sucking on the cigarette.

talljasperman's avatar

revenge for being trapped in a smoking cafe years ago

ninjacolin's avatar

@Merriment, i would be annoyed, for sure unless it was up for discussion..

“I’m wondering why people state the obvious when (at least in my opinion) it seems rude to do so.”

street preachers do exactly that, by the way. they must feel the same way a stranger does when they offer some “advice” like this. i wonder if it comes from a moment of utter disbelief that others don’t know what they know.

rephrased from their perspective, @borderline_blonde‘s words would be:

“I can’t believe you don’t know smoking is bad for your health, despite being consistently bombarded with studies and media that tell us so. What are you some kinda idiot?”

same for someone who is overweight. when someone has an obvious amount of glamor hiding behind some weighty cheeks. i can picture how their sense of disbelief kicks in in a hopeless moment of tactless verbal day dreaming.

nikipedia's avatar

Look, I know this is obnoxious, but I want to also ask you why you don’t quit. You know it’s expensive and you know it’s bad for you. You know that it makes you a little less healthy every day, and someday it will make you so unhealthy that you die.

I smoked for about five years, and it was a horrible mistake. Thousands of very polite people passed me by and said nothing about my smoking. And you know what, if every single one of them had stopped and told me I should quit, they would have been doing me a favor.

In retrospect, if the people in my life had not tacitly or overtly condoned my smoking, I would have quit a lot sooner. And it would have been better.

If you smoke until something bad happens to your health, you won’t be able to take it back. The people who love you will watch you die in pain before your time. Why are you doing this to yourself?

Oxymoron's avatar

@nikipedia – Smoking isn’t that bad of a thing. There are a lot of things way worse than that. Plus, it’s their choice.

ninjacolin's avatar

@Darwin said: “Why do smokers assume that they won’t get lung cancer until they are 80? All the folks I have known who have had lung cancer probably because they were also smokers have been younger than 50.”

that’s just it. there’s always a chance that a smoker just hasn’t heard enough or learned enough or thought about it enough. there may be better logic available that they simply haven’t considered enough.

ninjacolin's avatar

@Oxymoron just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you would want to be doing it if you knew better.

Response moderated
Zen_Again's avatar

It’s like Jehovah’s Witness, lite.

borderline_blonde's avatar

@nikipedia I understand that some people would be upset if something happened to me, but those same people are not the ones who go out of their way to say something to me. I enjoy smoking, and while I know it has poor effects on my health, I also eat an incredibly healthy diet and feel great… so to me, there’s no point in quitting right now. I’ve just never had a stranger be “polite” about suggesting I quit.

@ninjacolin I understand if someone thinks I’m an idiot for continuing to smoke. That’s fine, but it’s an entirely different issue. What irritates me is when these strangers think I don’t read and hear the same exact studies that they do, and then proceed to ask me if I know how bad it is for me. I would be far less offended if they simply asked me “Why don’t you quit?” It’s just like my friend who got the “ProActiv” remark – I mean, seriously, I think she knows she has acne better than anyone else does. It’s rude to point out the obvious.

Merriment's avatar

@ninjacolin so do you think the act of us lighting a cigarette makes it a “subject up for discussion”?

And all the clinging to the “superior” stance of ‘It’s bad for you, I don’t like it, so quit it, it’s so obvious, duh” attitude does is reveal the total ignorance of addiction and total intolerance on the part of the anti smoking preacher.

Oxymoron's avatar

@nikipedia – I think you need to calm down. I didn’t say anything rude to you, I was just voicing my opinion. Wow, I don’t get why you’re such an angry person. No need to cuss, either.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Personal attacks are not permitted, and have been removed.

ninjacolin's avatar

@Merriment, i wasn’t suggesting that. I just meant, i wouldn’t mind if someone was engaging me in a conversation about something they thought i was being ignorant about. it was an aside comment.

it has to be accepted that anything you do in public can be used for conversation sake. lectures aren’t cool though, i agree with you but concern for strangers is cool. tact tact tact.

@borderline_blonde i agree with you too that “why don’t you quit” is a better way to start the discussion. but if you get asked that same question every single day, won’t that be equally as annoying?

Likeradar's avatar

@Oxymoron Smoking is really, really, really bad for you. And I’m a smoker. But you’re right, it’s my choice. And as long as I’m making any legal choice within a legal area, my attitude is fuck you to any stranger who thinks they get to project their values on me.

ninjacolin's avatar

So.. in order to say “fuck you” back… all i have to say is: “quit smoking, you’ll enjoy life better! :)”


YARNLADY's avatar

I suspect that strangers who speak up feel they have the right to try to keep public places as free from poison as possible.

Why do smokers think they have the right to pollute the air for everyone else, not to mention smell pollution. Plus, most smokers don’t seem to realize that poison get in and oozes out of every pore of their body, polluting every seat they sit in.

Likeradar's avatar

@ninjacolin and wouldn’t a rational response be “worry about your own choices, and make your life better”?

ninjacolin's avatar

oh yea?! well, i hope you run a marathon one day!

snowberry's avatar

Interesting…I have met more than one smoker who says, “Hey, don’t bother me. I’m in good health”.

I also have a heavy smoker friend who discovered she had cancer at age 40. I still marvel at her comment when she found out she had cancer. She said, I don’t understand. I’ve been healthy all my life.” DUH!

Merriment's avatar

@ninjacolin Okay if public exposure and deep, personal concern is what gives people license to “grill” and counsel why don’t you see more Helpie Helpertons lecturing groups of angry young men, dressed like gang members selling dope on the corner of a sleazy hood?

I mean think of the crime! The waste of young men’s lives! The destruction to the neighborhood! Oh my! A drive by bullet could kill a sleeping child. Potentially many lives are at stake!!!!!!

There should be many upright people police all over that situation….and yet they aren’t.

And you know why? Because people are carefully choosing “safe” targets for their intolerance and their own addiction “MOPB” (Minding Other People’s Business).

They are hypocrites and cowards…I’d rather have a smoking addiction :)

borderline_blonde's avatar

@yarnlady – There are toxic substances in lotions, cosmetics, cleaning agents, etc. You’re always going to be touching some kind of poison, so I don’t think it’s fair to nail smokers alone for it.

@Merrimentpeople are carefully choosing “safe” targets for their intolerance and their own addiction “MOPB” (Minding Other People’s Business). I was thinking about the “safe” target business earlier, but from a different perspective: would the MOPBer in question have said anything to me if I had been a male smoker? Probably not, because he’d be worried about getting his a** whooped. Likewise, I doubt he went off afterward to lecture a bunch of gang members with loaded guns and pot smoke blowing out their ears. Apparently, it’s easier to preach to those you see standing beneath you.

Hydrogenbond's avatar

I agree with the latter, some people think that they can save the world, one person at a time, ha ha.

ninjacolin's avatar

@Merriment not bad. i see what you’re saying. i like your safe target stuff.

I think everything we do is with a view towards self preservation. Whether it be trying to coerce others to quit smoking or whether it be desperately trying not to aggravate a drug dealer who may be hostile.

Both acts are in our own self interest. That’s why we generally do them.

HTDC's avatar

@borderline_blonde “There are toxic substances in lotions, cosmetics, cleaning agents, etc. You’re always going to be touching some kind of poison, so I don’t think it’s fair to nail smokers alone for it.”

Yes, but there aren’t other people taking these lotions and cleaning agents and spraying them into our faces. There is also no evidence that these chemicals have long term effects on the body like cigarette smoke does. It is the fact that someone else is putting the cigarette smoke into our lungs that gets people annoyed and frustrated.

borderline_blonde's avatar

@HTDC I only pointed that out because @YARNLADY said that it gets on everything, but so do cleaning agents and other things with chemicals in them that people touch daily. And, I would argue that since some of the same chemicals found in cigarettes are also found in cleaning agents (ammonia, for example), that plenty of people are spreading around the chems – not just smokers.

Merriment's avatar

@ninjacolin – and it is the stench of that self-interest that makes most “I’m only saying this to helllllp you” style speeches so offensive to the target. That and the fact that they wouldn’t be saying it to someone they considered “threatening”.

As much as it may pain others..there is no law against smoking in designated areas…people who are worried about their health have the same “freedom” to relocate away from the area as we do to smoke.

Hydrogenbond's avatar

Regarding the chemicals being dispersed into the air, I usually just move out of the way, I do truly hate the smell of cigarette smoker, but I wouldn’t dare comment on their life style choice.

HTDC's avatar

@borderline_blonde Ah I see what you mean.

augustlan's avatar

Does anyone think it would be ok to go up to obese strangers on the street and say, “You know, you’re fat. You should really eat better. It’d be soooo much better for your health, and just think of all the money you’d save!”?

ninjacolin's avatar

@Merriment as much as it pains smokers, there is no law saying that they have to smoke. you have the same right as non smokers to be someone who doesn’t consume as many available clean air molecules.

rangerr's avatar

@augustlan I used to tell people they needed to exercise because they were too fat when I was little.

Merriment's avatar

@augustlan – if they do I’d pay good money to be there to see it…I picture nothing but the hands and feet of the “fat reformer” protruding out from under said “fat” person :)

Hydrogenbond's avatar

@augustlan – What’s wrong with that!?

borderline_blonde's avatar

@Hydrogenbond See, that’s why I don’t understand these people. When someone walks fifty feet out of their way to come preach to me and inhale my cigarette smoke, I tend to see that as their fault if the smoke is bothering them.

@rangerr that’s not nice!! :P

Merriment's avatar

@ninjacolin What does that have to do with anything?

If it’s my right/choice to consume clean air molecules then it is also my right/choice to consume yummy nicotine flavored molecules.

The issue isn’t that I have a right not to smoke it’s that I have a right to smoke unmolested by someone who has no horse in the race of my life.

ninjacolin's avatar

smoking doesn’t bother me as much as it does others. but i think smoking sections tend to spill over. it’s hard for me to remember since they’ve banned smoking in doors all over my province.

you do have a right to smoke though, but “rights” don’t mean anything to me. i only care about doing “what is right.” ;)

and your earlier claim was that the selfishness of anti-smokers is annoying. but.. i was trying to point out that smoking is itself just as selfish. if you have a right to smoke unmolested, then non smokers ought to be able to complain about it unmolested. they have a right to complain.

Merriment's avatar

@ninjacolin – Sure they can complain about it unmolested…but if they don’t want my smoke in their face I don’t want their complaint in mine. So might I suggest we establish Designated Piss and Moan sections where all these people could safely gather and be left in peace?

What is “right” for you is your job to decide. What is right for others is not. That is kinda my point.

ninjacolin's avatar

lolololol. nice. maybe smokers should fight for that to protect themselves. :)

ninjacolin's avatar

it’s the battle between the particles and the particle waves.

Merriment's avatar

Pretty soon the whole world will be little cubicles of people all clustered together based on their beliefs and intolerances and government will be in the middle enforcing the boundaries. Oh what a wonderful world!

Cause heaven knows that no anti smokers have valid ideas that could benefit humanity beyond their “Conforming Cubicle” and likewise no smokers have anything to offer beyond their “Conforming Cubicle” So hell, we don’t really need each other to get along.

Let’s allow “lifestyle” choices and intolerance of same to separate us even more.

Anybody smell cigarette smoke? Or is it the smoke from the kindling of a new age of segregation catching fire?

ninjacolin's avatar

@Merriment or smokers could just quit smoking… or complainers could just stop complaining… or both.

Merriment's avatar

@ninjacolin – Do they make a Stop Yer Bitchin’ patch yet? E-Bitchy device? Maybe hypnosis? Oooh, I know ! Acupuncture! I know just where to stick that needle :)

snowberry's avatar

@borderline_blonde You said, “When someone walks fifty feet out of their way to come preach to me and inhale my cigarette smoke, I tend to see that as their fault if the smoke is bothering them.”

Unfortunately, it does not work that way. I smell you people long before I see you. I can’t count the times I’ll get out of my car and head for the entrance of a store, and walk through a cloud of stench. THEN I look around for the source. Sometimes it’s around the corner, or you have already left, but it’s obvious you are, or were there. Uck.

snowberry's avatar

And what’s so very fun is when you, (whether by law you are allowed to do it, or you just do it cuz it’s more fun to damage other people’s health), you do it in front of the entrance of a store, so even though it’s supposed to be clean air inside, it’s full of your essence.

andrew's avatar

I agree—I think that culturally, people are disproportionately hysterical with regards to smoking. I was never a regular enough smoker to have anyone telling me to stop, but that kind of thing rubs me the wrong way.

Maybe that’s why I enjoyed Paris so much. I saw a man stop traffic to get a light from a woman on the sidewalk and no one even honked.

cookieman's avatar

You’re a fool if you think you can convince someone to quit smoking.

I tried to persuade my mother to quit after my father was diagnosed with cancer (from her second-hand smoke no less). She told me to go fuck myself and stormed out of my house.

My pregnant friend told her mother she couldn’t spend time alone with her forthcoming grandchild unless she quit. She chose the cigarettes and rarely sees her grandchild now.

Guy I work with developed cancer and wore a portable chemotherapy unit to work for almost a year. He smoked every day with it attached to his hip.

There’s no changing their mind. Don’t waste your breath.

belakyre's avatar

Smoking…like eating fat foods…does increase the chance of a heart attack…just in a different way. What the strangers were doing was summoning the courage to do what you would’ve wanted to do to those who were polluting.

snowberry's avatar

So, we have this double standard going on. It’s against the law for me to go up to you and poke my finger in your eye. I’d go to jail for that. But it’s perfectly acceptable for you to pollute my air and make me sick (in locations where I cannot get away from you), such as the Renaissance Fair, or the outside of stores, as I mentioned above.

Merriment's avatar

You do realize don’t you, that driving an hour in rush hour traffic exposes you to a much higher concentration of those same type of carcinogens? A study likened an one hour commute to smoking a pack a day!

I don’t see anybody flagging down drivers and telling them to give up their cars.

And I don’t see that because the other people are also driving a car so they don’t feel entitled to judge the other drivers.

And when you talk about it “stinking” why should that smell be any different than any other smell another human may emit or roll in and share? I don’t see groups approaching gassy people shaking cans of Beano and throwing Fiber bars at their feet. Instead they ignore it, hold their breath for the second it takes to move on, and co-exist peacefully.

It’s become socially acceptable to hound smokers and fat people and….the list will one day expand enough to include everybody for some behavior/habit of theirs. All because nobody can tolerate anybody else’s personal choices and feel qualified to critique.

snowberry's avatar

Frankly, I’d rather smell bad body odor than cigarette smoke. Smoke is waaay more toxic than body odor or farts.

You are right about smog and rush hour, but that is not on a personal level. Because I never go into places where cigarettes are smoked, the stuff I smell comes from individuals who choose to do it, where I have to breathe it in public areas.

snowberry's avatar

I NEVER hound fat people. That’s unacceptable boorish behavior. When I find someone overweight and struggling to get around, I will, if appropriate, do what I can to help them. I will do that, if they are not smoking at the time. I try go out of my way to make everyone I meet comfortable and acknowledged, regardless of whether or not they are fat, in wheelchairs, deformed, or disabled in anyway.

But at the same time, I am not putting up with anyone’s “personal choices” that infringe on my health, and I will do what I can to protect myself and my loved ones from such boorish behavior.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

What really bugs me is when complete strangers think it’s okay to comment on a pregnant woman’s behavior (e.g. give her dirty looks or a lecture if she has one glass of wine or eats sushi). Not every doctor agrees with a complete prohibition of alcohol or raw fish, so why should someone who doesn’t know the woman feel it is appropriate to comment on her activities?

What are other people’s opinions? If you don’t think it’s okay to comment on a smoker’s behavior, do you feel the same way for a pregnant woman? How about the other way around?

snowberry's avatar

If she’s intelligent enough to walk downstairs without doing a flip, she should be smart enough to feed herself. I hope she eats appropriately, but it’s none of my business what she puts in her mouth. However, I might say something if I know her well, and she seems open to my opinion.

Merriment's avatar

@Dr_Dredd – no, I don’t feel it is appropriate to comment on a pregnant woman’s behavior. And I feel that the only situation where it is appropriate to comment on a smoker’s choice is if they are smoking in an area where smoking is not permitted.

@snowberry – Rush hour pollution IS a personal choice. We don’t have to be driving that car. It’s a choice we are making because it benefits us. That it is the car “exhaling” the carcinogens just makes it feel more impersonal and gives you no human target to vent on…and removes the righteous indignation factor since in all likelihood you ALSO are making the choice to emit the same toxins by driving your car.

andrew's avatar

@Merriment I’m not sure I agree with that. If I’m smoking and other people can smell it while I smoke, I think they have the right to comment about it.

But that’s completely different than going up to someone and lecturing them about their life choices.

snowberry's avatar

@Merriment, Breathing rush hour pollution is not part of my paradigm, but walking into virtually any store at any time of day or night- rush hour or not- and having to smell the pollution of someone’s cigarette is.

Also, where we are from, rush hour pollution just wafts up into the air and hangs around, getting thicker and thicker, nastier and nastier. It does not go away until a storm moves it out. It’s called a temperature inversion, and is caused by high mountains on either side of a wide valley. It traps the smog in the valley, until a storm cleans the air. We had to move out of the area because of my husband’s bad lungs.

Nope, no points for you on that one from me.

@andrew, you said it well.

cookieman's avatar

I don’t get all the hullabaloo.

You’re walking outside (or inside) and someone is smoking…walk away from or around them.

You’re standing at a bus stop or train station near a smoker…step away from them.

Your going to an event, concert or fair…call ahead and see if it’s a non-smoking venue. If ‘no’, don’t go.

Your in an elevator or in a café and someone lights up…politely ask them to not smoke while you ride the elevator/eat your meal.

I too abhor smoking, but this isn’t that hard to navigate.

Now if the smoker is rude about it or purposely blows smoke your way, feel free to punch ‘em in the dick (apologies to JohnPowell).

Likeradar's avatar

@cprevite You mean mind your own business when appropriate and take steps to ensure your own enjoyment? Surely you jest!~

YARNLADY's avatar

@cprevite Generally I would agree with you, but I have been in public parks at lunch time where people are scattered about smoking, and short of leaving the park, there is no escaping it. Why should a taxpayer have to leave a public park because of so many addicts that you can’t “step away”?

andrew's avatar

@cprevite Totally agree.

augustlan's avatar

@YARNLADY How about a park full of people using those public charcoal grills? Those things put off tons of carcinogenic smoke. They all pay taxes, and all have a right to be there, and to engage in any legal activity there. Just as everyone has a right to not be there if they don’t like it. Would you tell them they had to stop using the grills if it bothered you – telling them that their right to tasty charred meat is interfering with your right to breathe clean air? Somehow, I doubt it. There really does seem to be a double standard when it comes to smokers. It’s somehow ok to berate them, but not others. The proper thing to do is to contact your lawmakers, and attempt to get the laws that allow people to smoke outside changed, not verbally attack the individual smokers. NOTE: I do not think it’s a good idea to outlaw smoking altogether. Think prohibition was bad? Wait until you take away nicotine. Previously mild-mannered community managers might well turn into murderous thugs. ;)

That said, I’m a fairly considerate smoker. If I was sitting on a crowded beach next to a family with children, I’d walk away to have a smoke… even if it’s legal to stay put. Even when people come over to my house, if I know they have a problem with smoke I excuse myself to smoke elsewhere.

YARNLADY's avatar

@augustlan Interestingly enough, the very thing you bring up (barbecuing) is being/has been outlawed here in Northern California. There is even a law against using your fireplace on certain “spare the air” days, and a law against smoking cigarettes in a car when children are present.

My parents were also chain smokers and showed the kind of courtesy you show. It just makes me sad to agree that you are correct about the behavior of forceably taking away the source of their addiction. I would like to see substances like tobacco and marijuana placed in the medical realm, prescription only.

augustlan's avatar

But, again, those are laws that have been enacted… and people should abide by them. Where I live, there are no such laws. What I’m getting at is why would anyone verbally attack someone who isn’t breaking any law? Attack the law, not the individual.

cookieman's avatar

@Likeradar: Yes. It’s a novel concept, I know. ~ :^)

@andrew: Even the dick-punching?

@YARNLADY: I wouldn’t like to visit a park full of smokers either – but smokers are taxpayers also. Unless smoking becomes illegal (which I think would be a slippery slope at best), we non-smokers have to learn to co-exist with the chimneys-with-legs.

I suggest a trip to Paris. It’ll make you appeciate the mostly-smokeless environment we have in the US.

YARNLADY's avatar

@cprevite—I don’t have to go that far, a quick trip to Reno, or longer trip to Las Vegas is more than enough for me. Luckily, some of the clubs are providing smoke-free sections.

Merriment's avatar

@andrew – actually I think we agree on that at least in part…Like I stated above: And I feel that the only situation where it is appropriate to comment on a smoker’s choice is if they are smoking in an area where smoking is not permitted.

If people are close enough to a designated smoking area, which is the only areas where I smoke, then they have the choice/freedom to move away. I on the other hand and bound by law to smoke in that area. I could run away from the first guy to complain but I’m betting I’ll just get in a bind for being out of my area…and offending someone else.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Merriment So long as we all understand it goes way beyond being offended, but also putting others in danger, and ruining your own life as well.

Merriment's avatar

@ Yarnlady – like I said there are clearer and more present dangers to people’s lives and yet those go unchallenged..only a select few have become public targets. Your life isn’t in danger by my smoking unless you follow me over to where I am smoking.

And I think it’s a bit presumptuous of you to judge my life as being “ruined” by smoking.

How would you you feel if I challenged some habit of yours that is “unhealthy” with the charge that it is “ruining” you life? Are your cholesterol levels a-oKay? No? Not any of my business?

You’re damn right it isn’t and my smoking and the effect it has on MY body is none of your business.

Sorry if this offends you but frankly your statement offends me. And most smokers feel the same way about this type of unsolicited public service announcement.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Merriment No amount of your being offended will change the fact that you are ruining your health. This is not a personal judgment by me against you, it is a proven fact.

Both my parents died at a very young age because of smoking and it hurts me to realize they could still be here if it weren’t for that horrible addiction. You can try to justify it any way you want, but it is only your addiction talking. for you to pretend that it is a choice you are making is just not true.

Merriment's avatar

@YARNLADY – No amount of scientific back up presented by you will change the fact that you, a total stranger, just set yourself up to lecture me about my health and lifestyle.

The fact that you suffered a loss of your parents because they chose to exercise their right to smoke while plainly sad doesn’t give you the right to lecture total strangers about their life choices.

I, unlike you and most the anti- smoker crusaders have never once tried to justify my smoking. I have acknowledged it stinks and it’s bad for my health. My position is that this is none of your business.

What your addiction to minding other people’s business is blinding you to is that
all you are doing is justifying all the reasons why you think this is acceptable for you to do to someone you have zero right to do it to.

I do have a choice, I have quit many times in the past for very long periods of time and when I chose to start it again is was years after any residual nicotine receptors had quieted (generally speaking this is within 72 hours) and long after the habitual part of smoking had been forgotten. Drinking a cup of coffee no longer evoked even a wisp of a thought of a smoke.

When I chose to start again it was, in fact, a deliberate choice.

So I’m afraid the tact of “you know not what you do, Junkie” isnt going to cut any mustard with me.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Merriment Out of curiosity, what made you start again?

Merriment's avatar

Thank you for asking.

Two words: Chronic Pain.

See the thing the researchers aren’t telling people, and possibly don’t know. Is that nicotine is a wonderful pain reliever. Beats any pharmaceuticals hands down.

One of the reasons they fail to treat smoking addictions is because for many people it is the “addiction to less pain” that people are really suffering from.

This is also why the over used argument of “Quit smoking and you’ll feel great” is such a lie.

I am getting ready to quit again…tomorrow, in fact. Why? Certainly not because someone caught me at the mall and converted me, lol

Mainly it’s because the cause of my pain has finally been somewhat diagnosed and the surgery I will need to correct it makes smoking side effects a liability to ultimately being pain free or at least having only manageable levels of pain.

See all smokers aren’t just idiots who are choosing to flaunt their choices and willfully destroying their health. And the fact that many people feel this is the case goes to show you how easy it is to set up a us vs them mentality and to encourage people to judge and police rather than to try and understand.

And when I do quit I will be quietly walking past the smokers and smoking sections because it isn’t my right to try to control these other people’s choices and I know this.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Cool. I agree that once you have surgery, smoking will be a liability. Smoking/nicotine interferes with wound healing. I know one neurosurgeon who refused to operate on my patient’s back until he quit smoking.

Good luck!

Merriment's avatar

Thank you for your well wishes.

You’re right, it does interfere with wound healing and it also changes, markedly, the levels of co2 in your body and that makes sedation trickier. It also changes drastically the amount of oxygen you should receive.

Due to family member’s experiences I have a great deal of first hand knowledge about the effect of smoking on the body. Probably more than the average non-smoker will ever care to know. This is part of why I find it offensive to get a “sound byte” lecture on a subject I could likely write a book about…..okay a maybe just a pamphlet :)

YARNLADY's avatar

@Merriment One of the problems with the right of free speech is that it cuts both ways. You are free to say you don’t like what I say, and I am free to say what I want. That means I can say you are ruining your health, which you freely admit is true, and if you don’t like it you can plug your ears, or on this forum, skip the quip.

I would not go out of my way, in a public place to tell anyone this, but if their smoke was bothering me, I would feel free to say so.

Just so you know, I once asked a lady to stop smoking in a restaurant where “No Smoking” was clearly marked – after her smoke headed into my nose. She deliberately blew a puff in my face, and I picked up a glass of water and threw it in her face. She was asked to leave, and I was applauded by several people around us.

cookieman's avatar

@YARNLADY: Did the woman then exclaim, “Well, I never!!!” and as she stormed to the door a funny but stereotypical black actor muttered, “I’m sure you haven’t.”?

YARNLADY's avatar

Ha, Ha No, I take it that is part of a comedy routine?

nikipedia's avatar

Since I think this question has been pretty thoroughly addressed, can I springboard off it and ask another question?

If someone makes an irritating facebook status, is it rude to comment on that? Like the smoking thing, it is both public and bothersome, but does that give other people the right to say something?

I am facebook friends with a girl who said something stupid opposing gay marriage, and I made a comment about that. Today she posted again that she was offended to see an ad for emergency contraception…. so I am commenting about that too. Am I being a big meanie?

cookieman's avatar

@nikipedia: Nah. You’re just being you – and we wouldn’t want you any other way.

My biggest FB pet peeve: Vaguebooking

Likeradar's avatar

@nikipedia I don’t think so. People know that updates on FB are open for comments- there is a comment box right underneath! If they just want to express their opinion without comment, they can disable the feature. If they don’t want to hear other opinions, they can disable the option for people to write on their wall.

Merriment's avatar

@YARNLADY – I have no problem with you exercising your freedom of speech. I also have no problem telling you that your non-smoking status doesn’t place you on a superior moral high ground when you do it.

Yes, I can plug my ears to what I don’t want to hear and you can “plug” your nose to what you don’t want to smell! So we agree that it is in both of our control to control our own actions. Great progress has been made!

Your story of “righteous indignation” gone wild, while amusing, really hasn’t got anything to do with the scenario of this question since, as you state, this woman was smoking in a non-smoking section. Something I have stated several times I don’t do and don’t condone out of respect for non smoker’s rights.

My health, ruined or otherwise, is none of your business, and yet it keeps factoring into your defense of your point of view. Why is that? Is it that you feel this is the strongest point in your favor? That nobody in their right mind could claim that smoking isn’t bad for you?

You’re right, nobody would claim it was a healthy habit…but that in no way addresses the real issue of this question, instead it serves to neatly illustrate the exact scenario that the person who asked the question encountered.

People minding other people’s business, And using the covert aggressive technique of insincere concern about the smoker’s health to take their shot.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Merriment There is the very basic difference between you and me – I do not believe that any public display is ‘personal’ and therefore it is everybody’s business what you do in a public place. It is also a proven fact that smokers cause problems for non-smokers through increased cleaning bills and other expenses in public places, and the list could go on and on.

cookieman's avatar

@Merriment@YARNLADY: You two need to let it go. Shake hands…share a hug…kiss and make up…

um…wait a minute
aaah…forget that, carry on

YARNLADY's avatar

@cprevite Thanks for the comments, I consider this a reasonable difference of opinion, as I believe Merriment does as well.

Merriment's avatar

@YARNLADY – All I am saying is that there is a tendency in this great country of ours to demonize certain groups and to make it acceptable to use them as targets. I believe, and you are under no obligation to share this belief, that smoker’s are just one such group.

That they smoke in public, in designated areas, should with “fair protection under the law” give them their space unmolested JUST like the non-smoker’s are given theirs.

Everybody doesn’t have to like the other guy’s equal freedoms they just have to suck it up because fair is fair.

I agree with you that this is just a difference of opinion and there are no hard feelings towards you personally on my part.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther