What does it take?

Let me start by saying that I hope all Boston Marathon runners, spectators, volunteers, and workers are doing better today. It was a senseless act of violence against the most innocent of peoples and as much as my brain wants to try to make sense of it….wants to try to understand WHY…..there is no WHY. I’ll leave it at that, as everything there is to say has pretty much already been said.

Now on to my rant…

When I started my lunch break today, I realized I left my food in my car which is about a 10 minute walk away. So I head down to the main floor of the Cancer Center, take the stairs adjacent to a clinic which will take me to the exit closest to my car. As I enter the stairwell, a stuffy, smoky smell assaults my nostrils. There, at the bottom of the stairs, is a cigarette butt.

I hate….I mean HAAAAATTTTEEEEE smoking. Suck on your cancer-sticks all you want on your own turf. But why can’t people have the common decency to not smoke on a smoke-free campus, much less THE CANCER CENTER? What is going on in their thought process that makes that ok? I feel that who ever would do this has a serious mental disconnect with reality, respect, and common sense.

Yes, I’m one of those people that will give you a nasty look and probably cough loudly and obnoxiously if I pass you smoking on the side walk. I’m that jerk. Sometimes I don’t feel bad. Why should I? I see people smoking on my school campus and in front of the Hospital/Cancer Center (and now inside????) ALL the time. Many of them are nurses, other medical staff, & physicians. There has been evidence that smoking is detrimental to nearly all aspects of your health for the past ~60 years. If you were born around the time the first warnings began to come out from multiple studies and the surgeon general (1966-1970) I firmly believe you HAVE NO EXCUSE.

Sometimes I do feel bad. Who the heck am I to pass judgement? I don’t know what kind of stress they must be under. I’m not an idiot, I know its addictive and very difficult to quit (my dad was a smoker). Maybe they are older and part of that generation when Physicians prescribed smoking to “ease the nerves”.

But more often than not, I don’t feel bad because the majority of people I see smoking are young. Teenagers, 20-30 years olds, sucking on toxins despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that that shit will RUIN your life. If there is one thing I have learned from my Masters in Public Health program, its that knowledge is not enough to change behavior. No where is that truer than in tobacco smoking.

Its so hard trying to figure out what will affect someone’s motivation to quite (or do anything…), because it can be so variable from person to person. There are tv commercials showing people with stomas, cancer, and stroke warning people to quit. Cheap scare tactics. Sure, they probably work for some people…but not the majority, and [i think] definitively not kids. Have you ever met a kid that was seriously thinking about the future. Their future health, lifestyle,  family, job? If you have, that is one special kid.

Kids live in the NOW. Some kids/teens have such warped thoughts like “Oh, I can stop whenever I want. I’ll quit when I start college”. HOW CAN WE STOP that train of thought and prevent future generations from making such dumb mistakes? We have to think on their level.

….I recently started living with a new roommate who is a pretty nice girl. She has a loud, in-your-face sort of personality which I’m usually ok with if I’m feeling wacky and want to have a crazy good time. She can definitely be fun. I avoid hanging out with her, though, because she is a smoker (despite being VERY CLEAR that I wanted a NONSMOKER on my craigslist ad). She had quit, but moved in when she broke up with her boyfriend. The stress of that made her start smoking again. I made sure that she knows she has to go outside, but the smells gets dragged in and I HATE IT. But what can I do? Despite sounding like a jerk, I’m actually a nice person and I don’t want to kick her out or anything.

Well, whats been getting on my nerves lately is that she is constantly complaining about her health. WAH, I want to lose weight. WAH, I need to cut carbs. WAH, I have this weird cough that won’t go away. WAH, I feel like shit (on a daily basis). WAH I’m hung-over (on a nearly daily basis). She spends entire weekends in her room, in bed…”catching up on sleep”. She gets all like “Ugh, you’re crazy…but I should exercise too” when I go out for a run/ride/swim.

She has already tried to quit about 3 times, each time going cold-turkey….each time me warning her that cold-turkey has a very poor success rate. Her response? “Well, it worked last time and I was smoke free for 3 years”. My response (verbatim),”And how is that working for you now?”.

I know I know…I really shouldn’t judge her. Or should I? Maybe her smoking could have some effect on my health? I know the ONE day I spent with her (a “ladies day” where we went shopping) and she smoked next to me any chance she got, I felt like absolute SHIT. My eyes were grainy, my throat was scratchy. I felt just…..gross. Her actions will probably not have an affect on me long-term because I am getting the HELL outta there once my lease is up at the end of June. So naturally, I feel bad for judging her and don’t really ever talk to her about smoking because that is her issue.

But as a public health person and [hopefully] a future-MD, I have come to realize that maybe little changes….the little ways smoking changes your life, could be focused on to prevent youth from picking up the habit. I don’t know anyone my age or younger who wants nasty breath, blackened/yellow teeth, persistent cough, difficulty loosing weight, etc.etc. We aren’t talking about CANCER….STROKE….HEART DISEASE.  I know this has been tried in the past. I don’t think slapping on a label that says “will stain nails and teeth” will be enough. I don’t know what the answer is, but it is something definitively more involved than that.

OK, rant over! Phew. I don’t mean to come off nasty to any smokers out there. I just…..don’t get it. Nor do I plan to get it.


In other news….I completed my first triathlon this past weekend 🙂 It was a baby indoor one, but its a start! And I’m done with my thesis and will be graduating in 1 month!!!!!!! More to come on these 2 very exciting things!

Given how I feel after yesterday, I leave you all with this:


One thought on “What does it take?

  1. Love the video about the girl. You do hate smoking don’t you? I do too but take it easy do not judge some people to harshly….I understand though.

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