There is something intimately sensual about it, and I’m sure many smokers will agree with me. The elegant dance of fresh hot tobacco smoke rising into the transparent expanse, traversing only for a moment the contours of moving air and then diffusing casually into its surroundings, leaving behind only the stale scent of a bowling alley late at night. To the untrained palate this scent is often discomforting or perhaps grotesquely aversive, but to he who has invested time and energy into this addictive process, the image of that elegant dance is ubiquitous, both in his mind and in his body. And there is no thought or worry of health, for reasons inexplicable to he who reliably considers his health in any or all that he does.
It is imperative in understanding the nature of the smoker to know that this life does not have implicit significance beyond ‘the pursuit,’ be that of anything related to the action or the pleasurable response produced. If one is to assign any value at all to his pursuit of life, he must then allow that others assign equal value to their different modes of pursuit. Understand that I do not intend to claim that cigarette smoking is harmless. On the contrary, I fully accept that smoking has detrimental results. However, I also believe that there is a credence that should be accredited to cigarette smoking which often goes overlooked because of the universally indoctrinated belief that such arguments are part of a tainted subjectivity, a hint of illusive and ephemeral happiness wading somewhere within the smoker’s indelible pathos.
This form of argument from intimidation stems from an assumed seniority in the realm of morality, preservation, or utility often adopted by the masses and affirmed purely by cultural convention. These conventions and standards have developed into an acute hubris, which has transposed and integrated itself quite pervasively into every arena of our culture. The purpose of this article is not to rebut the argument that cigarettes are harmful, but rather to express a point of view that I have never heard seriously and openly discussed.
Sitting and staring at my computer screen attempting to come up with an appropriate form with which to approach writing this chef d’oeuvre, I found that I could not come up with a justifiable means of validating smoking from a political or validly philosophical standpoint. The realization that I do not actually condone cigarette smoking objectively left me wondering what it is about this addiction that keeps my rationality from getting the best of me. The conclusion that I came to is as follows: the subjective pleasure derived from the addiction ostensibly outweighs the logical argument against it. Upon admitting that my affinity for cigarettes is not derived from any pretense of nihilism or apathy, I stared at the lit cigarette between my fingers and noticed the passion and beauty which I have gradually come to vest in these inanimate things.
Still, I cannot tell with any certainty whether this feeling of invested value is a result of my action or of some latent quality of cigarettes. For all intensive purposes, I do not believe the distinction needs to be made insofar as the fact that the intimate relationship is reciprocal in ways which allow both possibilities to remain true. How, you might wonder, could the inert cigarette derive anything beneficial from my action? This argument would require another essay unto itself. However, it may be simplified by the following representation: The act of inhalation is entirely different when inhaling smoke than it is when inhaling air. Sure, there are certain bio-chemical differences, but I am speaking of the intimacy created by smoke inhalation, something which does not exist when inhaling air. Air is transparent. It is impossible when breathing in air, even when concentrating, to see the substance that one is letting into his body. And more often than not, this action is entirely passive. When inhaling smoke, an interaction is produced primarily as a consequent of the smoke’s perceivable appearance and apparent substantiality. Every breath becomes highly voluntary and hence the smoke and the cigarette are made more beautiful by the smoker’s appraisal of each breath’s value.
Perhaps it is a result of my own shortcomings, but I have yet to experience an interpersonal relationship which provides me with greater satisfaction and consistency than does my relationship with cigarettes. I find it humorous that the city government of New York thinks it a wise strategy to raise cigarette prices in order to deter smokers from buying cigarettes; as if they should expect that three or four more dollars would actually persuade me to reconsider my affection and kinship. The knowledge that this intricate tower of affinity and passion has resulted from my own volitional action only strengthens the bond. How could I ever raze my own edifice? I shouldn’t have to, and I won’t.