So, what's wrong with this picture?
There I am, walking through a Brisbane street, and it's hot and sticky and all that, and there is this guy, somewhere in his upper 20s to early 30s, walking along among all the other folks cramming the sidewalks, and he's dressed all trendy in gym-ish kind of gear: carefully tousled haircut; bronzed skin; cool cross-trainers (hot on the feet? no shit!); gym shorts; sleeveless singlet, designed to show off his arm muscles (too much bulk, which makes him strong but inherently slower than someone with less bulk but more tone), pects and abs. In one hand he holds a half-full dummy-tit-bottle of some kind of energy drink.
In the other he holds a half-smoked cigarette.
Reminds me of this... Pretty close.
OK, so here's what I don't get...
Ahh, never mind.
By the way, Brisbane is riddled with bloody smokers. Not more than other places I suspect, not on a per-capita basis; but with craploads of people in the CBD they are just more visible. I guess I see it more than others might because I came here from small-city New Zealand, where, even if there were the same proportion of smokers, you'd still see far less of them. I also can smell smoke a mile against the wind and around several corners, and so that probably makes it even worse.
These people don't seem to know--or maybe just not care--about how pathetic they look when they skulk in nooks, crannies, doorways, entrance halls, and so on to get a puff.
What's the difference between them and a heroin addict, except in the drug they use? It appears that the dependency is similar, with a comparable preparedness on the part of the addicts to look...well, find your own label. Same goes, of course, for cocaine-snorting yuppies, I guess.
I mean, I should understand, I guess; after all I, too, smoked for a significant number of years and a lot of these folks are about the age I was when I still indulged in that habit.
But, in the way of a partial explanation, 'then' we didn't know just how utterly stupid it really was. Just like much of Europe still doesn't know, I guess; or Asia, or Africa, or South America. But nowadays we do know. The epidemiological evidence is pretty damn clear. It isn't just a filthy habit--and that only in the eyes of those who don't do it, so maybe that's a pure value judgment that shouldn't be applied here--but a lethal one.
To explain it all by referring to Frank Zappas dictum about stupidity being like hydrogen may not suffice; though it is tempting, of course, to bury it under flippancy.
To moan about it--and similarly dumb-witted habits--by saying that these people cost the 'health-system' too much money, only makes partial sense as well. It certainly does right now, but since these people are likely to die sooner than they would have if they hadn't smoked, they won't load down the health systems by being 'old people' in the future.
And also--what with being concerned with people's rights to choose their fate if that's at all feasible and socially sensible--I think that to legislate smoking out of existence, through taxes and prohibitions of where one may smoke, isn't necessarily 'right' either; though I think that the rest of us have rights as well, namely not to be molested and inconvenienced by either stink or secondary smoke inhalation effects.
Geez, I wish I could be more simple-minded and see one side of an issue. It makes life so-o-o-o-o much simpler!
But this really isn't a matter for flippancy.
And on a positive note (you'll have to click on the image to see it better):