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If you want a quick way of turning me off completely, just light one up in my presence. I may actually puke in reaction. I don’t hate the person; it’s the habit that I hate. I just find the sight of smoke oozing out of a person’s mouth and nostrils so utterly revolting it triggers my gag reflex. Dragons I can understand, because some of them evidently breathe fire, but humans….not something I really am accustomed to seeing.

Thanks to my lovely deformed nasal passages, I have a great deal of difficulty breathing as it is, and when I inevitably have to pass through a gauntlet of smokers right outside the doors to buildings (yeah it’s supposed to be enforced, but don’t you dare say that to a smoker. Last time I did politely, the person threatened to beat the crap out of me, despite my streaming eyes and gasping for breath). I gave up on that effort. Also because of my condition, it’s permanently ruined my sense of smell and taste. I can taste the smoke, though, and it makes me ill. This nasty, metallic-rancid flavor that I can’t get rid of for hours, no matter what I eat or drink to eliminate it. Note to guys: don’t ever smoke if you wish to date me, because as soon as I see you with a cancer-stick hanging from your slack lips, I’m splitting. Not to mention I consider it a major flaw when it comes to a potential romantic interest. I am not going to make out with an overflowing wet ashtray, which is how I picture what it must be like to kiss a smoker. Ugh. Despite my ravaged nose, I am able to detect very strong odors, and some  people think they can disguise it by chugging mouthwash, breath mints, or wearing lots of perfume to disguise the stink of their cigarettes.

From the start, I just never understood what was so beautiful and attractive about smoking. Maybe for some it made them look bold, or tough, or dangerous, but for me, it just made me ill. I got mocked in college because I didn’t drink, smoke, or do drugs–I was the freak in their eyes, and I remained defiant in that stance.

It’s a costly habit too, and I just cannot fathom how people who are extremely low income just HAVE to have their cancer sticks. They could go without nutritious food, or pay their bills, but they have to have their cigarettes above all else. Why should I feel pity for them? They could be saving so much if they gave up the habit (which I know is VERY hard to break), but they’d rather go broke than give up their habit. I just don’t get it. I’ve seen people’s teeth get all nasty, yellowish-orange, with a grey tinge and think it’s so gross. Some have the money to get their teeth capped, to hide the rot, but they still look fake.

I know I’m making people angry with my opinions, but I feel I’m entitled to voice them, since I also breathe the same air as them. I have acquaintances who do smoke, nearly all my coworkers do, but they also have enough conscience to not do it in my face, or if I’m outside with them, they make sure they’re downwind of me. I’ve developed allergies recently too, and smoke is one thing that sets me off violently.

When I said smoking is an unattractive habit, it’s not just to the person, but the environment they inhabit. I see butts all over the entranceways to buildings, on the ground, all over the beach, in parks. I see them flicking their butts out of car windows (some inconsiderate moron used my first car’s hood as an ashtray once—I would’ve pulped the guy if I’d caught him), puffing away with the windows cracked a fraction with kids in the car. I see mammas sucking away on their ciggies while bottle-feeding their babies and the babies are coughing up a storm trying to feed. Heaven forbid you tell them to stop when the kid is clearly suffering from all that exposure to cigarettes.

Pets suffer too, from the effects of smoking. I briefly shadowed at a local vet clinic and met a very unhappy cat with the unfortunate name of Lucky. Lucky was suffering from chronic lung inflammation and asthma, not to mention the poor fellow was obese. His lung problems were the result of his owners smoking like out of control locomotives, and the vet warned them to improve Lucky’s environment or he’d likely die. Just listening to this poor cat wheezing and laboring for every breath was a physical pain for me. His owners didn’t believe their smoking was killing him. Animals are so much more susceptible to the chemicals from cigarettes than people, because they’re a lot smaller than we are and it impacts their systems at a greater scale due to their size. Most people never give this any thought, but I do.

Why does this habit bother me so much? My grandfather, who died last year, died from a combination of exposure to asbestos and being a smoker for over half his life. I saw him a week before he passed, and he could barely breathe on his own. Ultimately, it’s up to each person–if they want to smoke, I’m not going to stop them. They’re going to do it regardless of what I do, or to simply spite me. I’d just like people to have a little more consideration of the world around them before they add to it, for better or worse.