Cough, Cough, Go Away

This past week has motivated me to input my opinion on the issue of people complaining about smokers. First, before I even begin to disclose my opinion on the matter, stereotyping people who smoke is a problem in and of itself. Smoking cigarettes does not directly affect your character, gender, personality or preference of anything.

In reading the recent opinion article, “Fake Cough, Real Problems,” I have to say that I disagree with such an approach to smokers. Yes, those who don’t throw away the bud of their cigarettes are polluting our earth. An ashtray is necessary, and smokers need to find a way to make sure that they are properly disposing of their cigarettes. In addition, all the scientific evidence proving that smoking is harmful is superb and accurate. Lastly, I agree with the article that smokers should try to move their cigarette when children walk by, out of respect.

Here is my issue with these people devoting their time criticizing smokers and fake coughing. Remember, it is the right of an individual in this beautiful and liberating country to choose to smoke tobacco if he or she meets the legal requirements. In a non-smoking zone, an individual should respect the signs, and find an area to accomplish his or her goal of smoking. Now, when this goal is accomplished, the last thing a smoker wants to undergo is a pretentious person “fake coughing,” adding stress to the smoke break that is supposed to relieve one of stress in the first place. If you have a serious problem with someone smoking in a smoking zone, do me a favor, and go away. Planet Earth is big, and I am sure there is room for you where tobacco does not fill the air. I also recommend you join the theatre department for your wonderful dramatic skills.

For those that seem to feel the need to walk by a smoker and make comments like “smoking kills” or “those are cancer sticks,” here is my advice: smokers know that smoking kills. It is on the box. I am sure of the fact that each person who decides to smoke in today’s America also attended elementary school and remembers the wonderful lessons of Red Ribbon Week. It’s annoying, rude and, most importantly, pretentious to preach to the choir. You don’t see people running around commenting on consumers of McDonalds with words like “Did you know that eating a cheeseburger is bad for you in the long run? If you eat too much of this food, you might get fat and die.” You don’t see people going to tanning booths and preaching about the dangers of getting skin cancer. You don’t see people going around to bars, preaching about the dangers of alcohol. It is the right of an individual, especially when abiding by the law, to choose what he or she eats, drinks, smokes and so on and so forth.

Lastly, I think you should try to appreciate smokers more. We are facing a recession. Do you know how much it is to buy a pack of cigarettes with tax? It’s pricey! That money is going right to our economy, and is helping liquor shops, grocery stores, smoke shops and other areas.

So I hope next time you see a smoker in a smoking zone, do yourself a favor, and worry about bigger things in life, like genocide, or child labor, or Snooki on Jersey Shore. A smoker will quit only if he or she wants to quit, and if he or she is abiding by the law and designated signs, you have no say in the matter. A smoker is not going to suddenly undergo an epiphany when some random UC Irvine student does a terrible job at “fake coughing.” Don’t waste your breath fake coughing. And let me leave you with some last words, to preach to the choir: “Each year about 443,000 people in the United States die from illnesses related to cigarette smoking.” Quit now!

Nuha Abusamra is a second-year political science major. She can be reached at nabusamr@uci.edu.