I stood in the morning sun, enjoying the Marlboro 100 light tucked between my lips when a girl came up to me and decided to lecture me on my smoking habits. I stood there and smiled, nodding my head in all the right places as she asked me everything from my age to how much I smoked. After she wished me a long healthy life and walked away, I stood stunned for a minute, then realized she probably has some serious self-esteem issues.
I’m sure she went home and put a gold star on her calendar, marking her good deed for the day, but I couldn’t help but feeling pissed off. Sure, I got to help someone feel better about herself, but at the same time I had to listen to her bitch and moan and condescend like she was talking to a three-year-old. Nonsmokers (some of you) can really be a pain in the ass sometimes.
Everybody has an opinion on smoking; some of you find it disgusting while others enjoy it. Some of those who can’t stand it abandon politeness for loud and obnoxious remarks. You don’t like smokers, and I can’t stand rude people. So, in order to forge a peace between smokers and nonsmokers, I’m offering a short primer on smoking etiquette.
First off, for the pink lungs, we smokers know smoking isn’t healthy. You’d have to have been living in a cave on Mars for the past 20 years not to know this. We watch those annoying, self-righteous truth ads on television and read them in magazines. Don’t ask us why we smoke; it’s annoying and invasive and utterly rude. What you need to do is recognize when it’s a legitimate time to ask a smoker if they would put out their cigarette. If you’re cramped in a tight space while someone is puffing away and there isn’t anywhere else you can go, speak up – it’s your space, too. However, a lot of the walkways and areas around UCSB are huge; if you can stand somewhere else, out of the path of the smoke, do it. The smoker’s right to be there is the same as yours. Oh, another thing, please no more of those fake hacking and coughing sounds. I’m urging all smokers, if someone does this to you, put out your cigarette on their nose and light another in victory. If smoke bugs you, be polite about it or just walk away.
For all my smoking brethren, here are some simple guidelines for you. Number one: If someone asks you to put it out in a polite manner, do it or go find some place else to smoke. Cigarettes aren’t pricey, and it’s not hard to find a spot where your smoke won’t blow in anyone’s face. If you’re in a crowded area, don’t light one up. Chances are that you’re going to be bothering someone by it; better to hold on to it and find a nicer place to have your smoke. Lastly, and this is one that I would stress, when you’re done, resist the urge to flick. I know, I know, I like to put that sucker right between my thumb and middle finger and watch it fly, but it does make things messy. There are occasional ashtrays on campus and tons of garbage cans; just smash it out on the lid and dump it in. It’s not hard to hold on to the butt for a few extra minutes.
Okay, that about does it for now. Maybe now we’ll be a little more civilized to each other. One last thing though, for both parties, if you’re polite and the person you’re dealing with isn’t, all bets are off and this time, it’s personal. Successful societies thrive on kindness and the ability to get along, although revenge is fun and a viable option when all else fails. I’m sure you can come up with all sorts of devilish plans and twisted plots if you look long enough into your little black heart. I like to think of a few beforehand just so I have them ready to go. So maybe now we can all get along, maybe we can live in harmony with each other. Maybe, just maybe, it’s a small world after all. Oh, and I dare you to cough, I just dare you.
Steven Ruszczycky is a sophomore English and biopsychology major and Nexus columnist. He is currently attempting to sell the tar in his lungs in an effort to assuage California’s energy crisis.