Puff, puff, puff that cigarette! I am not a fan of smoking, and i'll tell you why. During caveman days the smell of smoke usually meant that humans were lighting a fire to keep warm, or roasting some meat for their meals. The aroma, with herbs, could be very attractive, even today at a neighborhood barbecue. But, where there is smoke, their is fire. Sometimes the fire means that a building, equipment r automobile is burning. And, as California residents well know, it could mean that trees are on fire, endangering human as well as animal life.
Native Americans introduced European settlers to tobacco, starting with a "peace pipe". Gradually some colonials became very attracted to tobacco and saw it as a lucrative source of income. Sir Walter Raleigh, and others, introduced it to Europeans, just as spices were introduced from South East Asia. Eventually, tobacco became very popular and in demand. Tobacco plantations sprung up in the South and help was needed to cultivate the leaves. Slaves were brought in to farm tobacco, just as they were for cotton.
Down through the ages many people got "hooked" on this new substance, and it grew to a billion-dollar industry. I have to admit that as a kid i liked the smell of pipe tobacco when my dad and some of my uncles smoked. Cigars, however, wreaked a nasty smell. Since cigarettes were cheaper, they became popular for most people. One of my aunts used to fuss about visitors wreaking from smoke and how it lingered in the curtains. Another aunt however was very addicted to smoking, insisting that it calmed her nerves and eased her back pain. When she passed away my cousin Lisa put a pack of cigaretts in her casket. One of my uncles died when his house caught on fire after he fell asleep smoking a cigarette.
When I was growing up in Detroit it seemed like teacher's lounges were designed mainly for those teachers who smoked. When smoking was eventually banned from inside the school building some teachers would go outside, even in the cold, to light up. Students got the idea that smoking was "cool" and that it was a rite of passage to become an adult. Young ladies were convinced that smoking was glamorous as they popped lipstick-stained cigarettes into their mouths. Most of the students waiting in the principal's office were there to explain why they were caught smoking int the restroom.
Navy boot camp was a bit nightmarish for those of us who did not smoke. It was bad enough going through fire-fighting training in a building fill of smoke with a mask, trying to see and breathe. On top of that, non-smokers had to contend with those who smoked. There was a designated room and time when the "smoking lamp was lit" so those who imbibed could do their thing. Ironically, those who did not smoke, were forced to endure the smoke in the same room, standing guard to make sure no fires were started.
While training at Camp Pendleton as a platoon leader before going to Vietnam I had to sleep in a large tent with a dozen guys, some of whom smoked. The smokers protested loudly when I told them to put out their cigarettes. Later, while stationed in Danang i worked in the Photo Lab. We slept in a small bunk room in the back of the lab. Since the chief was in Hong Kong buying some more camera equipment I was left in charge. One evening while I was washing and drying some prints, two younger sailors came in after a binge at the Enlisted Men's Club. About half an hour ago after the guys came in, I started smelling smoke and wondered where it was coming from. I entered the bunk room to ask the guys to help me find the problem and was aghast at what I saw! One of the guys, who wore a beard, had fallen asleep in a drunken stupor with a lit cigarette in his mouth. His beard and his pillow were on fire! I had to awaken both of the guys to get out while I put out the fire. Days later, they and the chief who was back from Hong Kong, thought it was funny, but I did not. What if the had gotten burned or died?
Over time, doctors came to the conclusion that smoking was bad for ones general health. Wasn't it ironic seeing doctors and nurses smoking in the hospitals? Campaigns were started to get people to stop smoking. Thankfully, many people who were hooked were able to wean themselves from it. Still, smoking remains a problem because once you are addicted it is difficult to quit. Compounding the problem, some "entrepreneurs" in recent years are cashing in on this, creating a new industry called "vaping". They entice youngsters by getting them to try various fruit flavors. As we are seeing in the media, these vapors can be more dangerous and deadly than tobacco, causing permanent lung damage, and even death.
So, "Put that in your pipe and smoke it," as mom used to say.