By Amrita Misra

Yes, I really mean that. And you would agree if you knew why I say so. I am so angry that whenever I am walking, as a proud pedestrian, who does not own a car & tired of waiting for the bus, which otherwise should be a healthy exercise is actually often very frustrating. People, rather smokers, pass you from left, right, center and back, listlessly letting their disgusting smoke into the thin air as if they own it. And the thin air, now smoke laden, hits my face and I have to inhale some of that filth no matter how quick I’m to stop my breath or how long I hold my breath. And this happens for 40 minutes (at least) everyday that I have to walk, to and fro work or running errands. No matter what time of the day it is (7am or 10pm), one thing is for sure that you will get the flavor of smoke brewed in the air.

I feel that if one smokes, he/she should be assumed to be insensitive towards others to some degree (already). People with other kind of addictions like drugs and alcohol, do not cause instant and consistent harm to passersby (except if they would be DUI, I guess!)

A friend at work said that she quit smoking when she was trying to get pregnant. Now, eight months pregnant, she claims to have been a non-smoker for more than a year. And she said that now that she does not smoke and does not want to stand by a smoker, she realizes how disgusting smoke can be to non-smokers.

It is amazing to witness and be a victim of such atrocity (if you may). Well, (not that I have not been tempted to) wish I had the heart to rebuff a smoker to have let off smoke on my face probably I would if I had asthma or were pregnant.

I feel like smacking the parents who smoke with their little children around them.

I see these ads on bus stops and subway trains with messages for “quit smoking”, and the dangers of “second hand smoking” (especially to children). I would really like to see some ads that would tell if the “second hand smoking” ads really work.

Working as a rehabilitation counselor and dealing with addictions, I wonder why we do not treat smoking for what it is: an addiction that corrodes the society. Cigarette smoking is not just any other drug/alcohol addiction in at least one way, i.e. not something to be ashamed of.

Oh! one should see the smokers congregation everyday in front of the art colleges (SVA or FIT for the matter), as if smoking is inseparable to creativity. Smoking is so normal, that its dangers have never been able to overcome the normalization yet. What can one say when counselors and doctors themselves are smokers, and we have designated areas to smoke around rehabilitation facilities/clinics/hospitals.

To understand the politico-economic basis of cigarette industry won’t be arduous. Following that it won’t be hard either to understand why cigarette smoking is not considered a social aberration, crime, and a serious threat to self and others, when it actually is.

What if we had public smoklets (like toilets, ya!), where smokers should go in to smoke away their lungs to dust? And the smoke would go through some recycling pipes before the air is let out to the open. Now I think that this is a legitimate proposal! Come on, if we can raise hell over pollutants from vehicles why not try to curb the human chimneys’ free poison reign over our air.

Now coming back to my claim regarding the fart vs. smoke choice, not that I would easily forgive a person to have let go in a crowded subway train or in an elevator, but at least I know that farts don’t hurt beyond the fleeting olfactory discomfort (I hope!).