Member 1535
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(M, 27)
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Immortal since Jan 24, 2008
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Interests: nanotech, religion, philosophy, language, morality, self-deceit, instinct, bigotry, dancing, loving, hating & chemistry. I'm not particularly well suited to small talk.
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    Smoking is cool
    Yesterday; while waiting for a bus with my friend, I stopped to glance across at a middle aged man smoking. I stared at him intently before turning to my friend and asking him a question:

    What is it that makes people smoke? Why is it that people who smoke generally seem to be more interesting? Where does it come from? Why are they so cool?


    He stared at me a little absent minded, intent on drinking his coke, but he didn't need to say anything for my own imagination to swing into effect...

    It's breathing fire.

    Towards the beginning of human culture being able to create and manipulate fire was a sign of intelligence and power. The power to bring a group of people through a cold night with a blazing fire, it was almost instinctual. We know our genetic code changes very slowly, that instinct still remains.

    Throughout time many civilizations have had smoking rituals and practices, often involving other drugs as well. Of course it is these pagan, instinctual urges which are more often than not repressed among anti-smokers. These urges which make us human.

    The smokers are the only real community left in the workplace. Taking five minutes every hour to talk and reflect, to put down their work and relax - they return calm and centered, in short more productive. It is this calm collectedness which more often than not contributes to that 'cool' image. Even when they are not smoking.

    Lots of people smoke when they drink. They are feeling good, relaxed, and it makes them feel cool, and when you feel cool you act cool. Never mind the lie of it all; things don't have to be true or real to have a profound influence upon how a person thinks, never mind the cancer or health problems. The more danger you're in the more fun you tend to have... (That isn't to say that the person who thinks that they are cool simply from smoking is cool - but it's cool not to care)

    The benefit taking time out of your day to think about everything is enough reason in itself to smoke, the effect on your mindset, being relaxed and confident makes you the type of person people appreciate for their temperament. Stress destroys people.

    But then the smoker I was looking at before punched the bus stop sign - so you definitely can't say it works for everyone and of course the above reasoning is no more reasonable than "I want to live as long as I can so I won't smoke"

    Sat, Jul 26, 2008  Permanent link

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    aeonbeat     Sun, Jul 27, 2008  Permanent link
    Thank you for this one, I am thinking about this lately a lot, since I've been making experiments with myself smoking. Right on time, I just watched Die Hard on TV last night, which I didn't remember at all... This time my impression is that it is a very sarcastic movie, which makes it really profound for the time it was released. Bruce Willies smoking all the time, plus everybody else - such an image, haha :)

    Breathing fire... never thought about that. I stopped by "cool". And I think it's a myth it gets you relaxed - actually it disturbs my nerves.
    aeonbeat     Sun, Jul 27, 2008  Permanent link
    It could be for an addicted smoker probably.

    *editing comments doesn't work*
    LED     Mon, Jul 28, 2008  Permanent link
    People smoke because they are nicotine addicted. To think people smokes because of "cool attitude" is quite old concept from American media in the 50's/60's.
    There's a funny "Unthinkable Prediction" from Brian Eno (in "Unthinkable Futures" with Kevin Kelly) that says * Smoking is proven to be good exercise for the lungs.

    dragon     Mon, Jul 28, 2008  Permanent link
    LED - that is exactly the point of view I am trying to broaden...

    People smoke because they're addicts. Smokers die because they get cancer.


    True.

    So what's wrong with being an addict these days? Most of us have something, if it happens to be complaining or crack. Caffeine or "that fuzzy religious feeling". People may smoke because they're addicted to nicotine, but what are the effects of nicotine? Do these effects contribute to a cooler more relaxed person? Below I've briefly summarized a few wiki points on the drug.


    • By binding to CNS type nicotinic receptors, nicotine increases dopamine levels in the reward circuits of the brain. In this way, it activates the reward system and generates feelings of pleasure.

    • By binding to ganglion type nicotinic receptors in the adrenal medulla nicotine increases flow of adrenaline (epinephrine), a stimulating hormone.

    • Nicotine's mood-altering effects are different by report. First causing a release of glucose from the liver and epinephrine (adrenaline) from the adrenal medulla, it causes stimulation. Users report feelings of relaxation, calmness, and alertness



    So there's something there for smokers. Whether or not it's worth it all depends upon your value system, completely subjective. And like that unthinkable future postulates, maybe they'll find some better reasons.
    Huffameg     Mon, Jul 28, 2008  Permanent link
    First of all, as two commentors has already pointed out, people smokes because they're addicted. But there is a cultural aspect to this. Not only are we asking why people smoke, but why do they get social acceptance for an activity this destructive and how can it be that they receives a special status, "a smoker", by smoking. dragon is pointing out the "coolness" involved in smoking as essential. This is a socially constructed description driven forward by capitalistic forces that surfaces in the western world as tobacco is introduced.

    I think, however, that it something more to this. As you are pointing out, one finds smoking in overwhelmingly many cultures, and it plays often an important social role. I would suggest that it is something fundamentally sensual, if not sexual, about smoking. It is closely connected to our senses because one is using all of them and the time aspect, the fact that not only do one have to put a side some time to smoke, but also that the smoke in itself is slow in itself, tells us something about relaxation and the lack of stress. This, I believe, is because smoking has a lot in common with what we can understand as caress. The slow, relaxing and deeply sensual feeling.
    LED     Mon, Jul 28, 2008  Permanent link
    OK, I misunderstood. Anyway...

    I live in a very polluted city and some studies show that living here is the same to smoke 6 cigarettes a day, smoking it or not.
    Living here or not, lots of people die because of cancer, even non-smokers.
    But I have to say I do understand the circumstances and all, following “nicotine receptors” or simply thinking about environment.

    I’m not in defense of smokers but I think everybody has addictions and everybody is able to understand the good and bad sides of their activities. And if someone doesn’t, nowadays we can’t say it’s a lack of information.

    About the sensations providing from addictions I think temporary satisfaction is one of that. And risks are included.

    An addiction is much more than an option, isn't it?
    Try to look at yourself to understand how an addiction works. Think about yours.
    aeonbeat     Tue, Jul 29, 2008  Permanent link
    I think I get more pleasure by the results of the experiments with myself while smoking than by the smoking itself... :) I managed to accept that I do feel "cool" when with the flow and under sexual influences. I observed many times the moment when I want to light a cigarette - in different conditions also - for example in the night I smoke more and I can say for sure it's a social phenomena.
    Mission Control     Tue, Jul 29, 2008  Permanent link
    gouranga — editing comments should now be working properly again, thanks for alerting us to this issue.
    cyb0     Sun, Aug 3, 2008  Permanent link
    Smoking is a bad habit.

    How much time you feel the pleasure from smoking a cigarette ? I can tell you that its not much, maybe in the first couple of inhales. After that there is only a bad smelling breathe and clothes... Nothing about coolness here, I think.
    sjef     Mon, Aug 4, 2008  Permanent link
    I smoke & I'm not addicted. Only smoke when drinking, after good meals, and on other occasions when a cigarette is highly enjoyable. If you're not craving the effects constantly the drugs are a lot more effective (same with coffee). Sure it's an acquired taste, but the smell doesn't really bother me. Having been through the ban on smoking in clubs/bars in both NZ a while back and NL recently I think shitty perfume, BO and dancefloor farts all smell a lot worse.

    The breathing fire thought is really interesting, there certainly is an attraction that makes smoking 'cool' that pre-dates all the advertising bullshit of the last 100 odd years, anyone denying that might want to think about to what extent their opinion has been formed by the anti-smoking campaign of the last 50 or so.

    Cancer may not be cool, but if you had never heard of it or the marlboro man, and saw someone calmly standing around holding fire on a stick with smoke coming out of their face, you'd be impressed.
    aeonbeat     Mon, Aug 4, 2008  Permanent link
    Actually this is exactly my point of view as well.
    dragon     Mon, Aug 4, 2008  Permanent link
    Probably about time I explained exactly my personal position - I don't really smoke ciggies much (averaging half a pack or less a week), my gf does and a lot of my other friends, so i smoke occasionally, a lot when I'm drinking but easily going weeks between a puff.

    I think it's an interesting example of the relationship between emotion and logic. Though that deserves an entirely new post.
    aeonbeat     Mon, Aug 4, 2008  Permanent link
    Why everybody says he's smoking more when drinking? And what do you usually drink and how much? I also first found marijuana and then started smoking from time to time, more often lately, since it's a non-stop party... My parents smoked always a lot, I didn't started in early age like almost everybody I know.
    Xarene     Tue, Aug 5, 2008  Permanent link
    A professor long time ago said "All good artists are smokers because they take time from what they are intensely working on and think about it, looking at their work from a distance."

    Good advice, but you can do that with a lollipop. Breathing fire is cool; breathing the return smoke and choking on it while rubbing burning, watery eyes is not cool. Cigarettes don't kill fast enough.

    pleasantsociety     Thu, Aug 21, 2008  Permanent link
    to each their own. smoking still has to remain as one of the most archaic practices humans participate in. i still think cigarettes should be sold as chap stick so those who want to partake can in any situation and not get ridiculed by the masses.
     
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