Why I don’t smoke, but don’t mind if you do

I don’t smoke.

But I don’t condemn my friends who do. I won’t buy you cigarettes when I go to the duty-free but if we’re traveling together, you can take my cigarette allocation.

Not that I’ll be using it, anyway.

Life is hard. Dying is easy. If you think nicotine will take off the edge of how miserable life can be – that daily grind of working, of suffering cruel, stupid people (politicians especially)-then I won’t begrudge you your cancer sticks.

I don’t smoke because it doesn’t do anything for me. When I was little, I used to be plagued with chest congestion. I remember nights crying myself to sleep in pain and fear, because ohgodohgodithurtsmommyican’tbreathe. And my mother could do nothing but rub my chest with Vicks, give me warm drinks and tell me it’ll all be fine in the morning, just try to go to sleep now. She still has kittens over me; probably due to my spending more time in a sick bed than outdoors.

So voluntarily clogging up my chest with smoke does not appeal.

Or try getting viral bronchitis. It feels like a wicked witch’s turned your lungs into lead, turning even rolling onto your side an exercise in sheer masochism. But it made breathing effortlessly seem an unappreciated miracle.

I’ve puffed a few cigarettes before I joined the cast of Refugee:Images. Smoking makes singing harder – it bites at your stamina, dries out your throat and irreversibly changes the tonal quality of your voice.

And this isn’t a warning to those who already smoke. You already know what it does and you’ve made your peace with it. I pray cancer doesn’t get you. But the ones just starting out or thinking of it – get a hobby. Spend your money on better things like a good book. Good food.

Because you don’t want to be in a hospital bed at night thinking ohgodohgodithurtsican’tbreathe.

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