"How did we survive back then?"

30 Jun 2001, 18:52#1

Joel's Reinforcement Library

"How did we survive back then?"

A few weeks ago I went to a night White Sox game with a friend and his nine year old and five year old sons. The game was good, the weather was great, and the Sox were victorious. It should have been a very enjoyable experience. One factor, though, made this a less than perfect evening. One man, just one row behind us and a few seats over and one young woman, two rows ahead of us, were smoking. Here we were in an outdoor stadium with only two people smoking in our entire section. A section of probably over 100 people. It seems like it should have been a minimal exposure. Somehow though, every time they lit up, the smoke came right at us.

For those few minutes when either one of them was smoking a cigarette, my throat burned with every breath I took. I thought maybe it was just me, but then the nine year-old turned to me and complained that the smoke was really burning him too. A few times, when they both lit up simultaneously, the smoke got so bad that I got up with the nine year-old and took a walk through the concession area so we could avoid the irritation. I wondered how many other of the 100 or so people not smoking around us were having a similar experience created by these two smokers.


Some people may have left the game bitter with the feeling of resentment that two people could be so selfish and inconsiderate, interfering with the enjoyment of so many others. I didn't think that. I truly believe they had no idea that their smoke was irritating adults and children all around them. Even if they had been told, I don't think they could possibly believe it made us feel as bad as it did. They would think it was just another fanatic trying to infringe on their right to exercise a private practice that delivers a few seconds of personal pleasure. It is not my purpose in this particular letter to debate the fact that the smoker is not really feeling pleasure, rather, just alleviating the pains of withdrawal. It is also not my intent to belabor the point about how two people could ruin the evening for so many others.

To the contrary, these two smokers heightened my awareness as to how far we have come as a society. If this was 30 years ago, over half of the men and over a third of the women would have been smoking at any given ball park in the country. If two people could produce enough smoke as to make me and the people around me feel so bad, it must have been 10 or 20 times worse. How did we survive back then? I do remember when I was a child having to leave certain events because the smoke exposure was so concentrated and irritating. You couldn't find a place to walk around to avoid the smoke for a few minutes because the smoke was everywhere. You couldn't even say anything about it-back then.  It would have been considered terribly impolite to have raised the issue. It is only by remembering how terrible it was that you can start to appreciate how far we have come.

With the exception of two people, here we were virtually surrounded by non-smokers and ex-smokers. These people were not restricted from smoking by rules or regulations. Each and everyone of them had a choice. They could smoke like the one man or the one woman, or they could not smoke like everyone else. Ninety percent of them were choosing not to smoke. Those who had never smoked just take it for granted. Even most of the ex-smokers were not sitting and thinking how fortunate they were to be able to sit through a game without needing a cigarette. They, too, just take it for granted that they don't smoke anymore. And the two smokers were probably oblivious to the fact that they were the only ones smoking in their immediate vicinity.

I think we can see the day coming where no one will be smoking in an outdoor stadium. Wrigley Field already eliminated smoking in the park except for rest rooms. It is also becoming apparent that indoor public smoking will soon be gone. Most will not be smoking by choice. A few will have it regulated from them. We will sit and watch a game, go to meetings, eat in restaurants, stand in theatre lobbys and not think about how no one is smoking. We will just take it for granted that people do not expose other people to their cigarette smoke anymore. Children will no longer be irritated by adults around them having to feed a physical craving. They will never have known what it used to be like to be assaulted by secondhand smoke. We, on the other hand, should never take it for granted that we are no longer assaulted by the smoke of others. We should think back to the days when a lot of people smoked in these places, or even back to the time period that we are in now when only a few people were smoking in public. We will feel very appreciative that we no longer have to be exposed to the risks and annoyances posed by other people's smoke.

You should also think back to the days when you were the smoker effecting people around you. Even though you never realized it at the time, you were hurting yourself as well as the young and old all around you. You can't do anything today to change that past-but your focus should now be on never exposing yourself and those around to such discomfort and possible dangers. So that you may never again have to face such personal risks or feelings of guilt again, always remember, to stay smoke free - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!

Joel

Related videos:

"I am the only smoker I know"

Can second hand smoke cause relapse?
Last edited by Joel on 08 May 2015, 13:03, edited 4 times in total.
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30 Jun 2001, 18:55#2

From: Joel_ Sent: 7/4/2000 6:47 AM
Fourth of July sidenote.

When at fire works or parades or picnics today, look around and see how many people are really smoking. At first sensation, if only a few people are smoking and you are getting assaulted by second hand smoke it may appear to you that everyone seems to be smoking. But if actually counted and compared to non-smokers there, the smokers are probably a small minority. It was not always like this. We have made good strides as a society.

But as individuals, each and everyone of you here at Freedom have made a great stride. The day you stopped smoking you fought a major battle for freedom and have so far emerged victorious. Today you are truly free to choose whether you smoke or not. Whether you have been smoke free for a few days, weeks, months or even years now, you have taken control and have declared your independence. To keep your freedom of choice, always remember...Never Take Another Puff!

Joel
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From: Zep - Gold Sent: 7/4/2000 7:19 AM
You know what Joel, during the years that I blew smoke I must have been extremely insensitive not to realize just how much my addition infringed upon the fresh air of others. Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! If my sniffer had worked maybe, just maybe, I would have been a bit more thoughtful. As for the Braves games over in Hotlanta, fans can NOT smoke anywhere in the ball park except for designated smoking areas. I know as I missed many a great play while getting my customary 30 minute fix in my little "Designated Area."
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From: dianaS Sent: 7/4/2000 2:18 PM
Zep, I always smoked outside..thinking I was sparing my family from my smoke..now I have a new neighbor who is outside smoking..can smell the smoke when the windows are open..never thought about my neighbors when I smoked outside..

are you a BRAVES fan? my husband sure is! He went to Atlanta just to see the Braves play, had a great time!
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From: Suz Sent: 7/4/2000 9:20 PM
I feel so guilty just reading all this stuff.

Diana; add to your list - smoking in your car with the windows down. I pulled up to a light this morning right next to a car where the passenger was smoking, and the smoke blew right in my window. Part of me started craving a cigarette, part of me wanted to pull out my air freshener and spray. (oh, geez - I'm turning into a zealot!) I wanted to roll up my window, but I was afraid the smoke smell would be trapped in my car - with me.

I was thinking back to all the times I've smoked in public places and just plain made a nuisance of myself. It is embarassing! I've smoked around children, I've annoyed people, I've smoked around food - it is just disgusting thinking back.

Now, I want a smoke free world - or at least a world where people can only smoke in the privacy of their own bathtubs!

Have a great night all, hope everyone enjoyed this literal and symbolic holiday!

Suz ... check out the stats - almost 18 days!!!

Two weeks, three days, 23 hours, 36 minutes and 34 seconds. 539 cigarettes not smoked, saving $80.93. Life saved: 1 day, 20 hours, 55 minutes.

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From: Jitterbug Sent: 10/11/2000 7:07 AM
Reading this, I remember smoking in offices (when we were permitted to), and being the only one in the immediate office to smoke). How horrible that must have been. I remember railing against having to go outside and smoke - about having to go into a separate room and smoke (not being able to sit in the better seats), etc.

I also remember going to concerts, having the smoke burn your mouth and throat and being able to get high because there was so many "buds" being lit up, you didn't need to get high on your own -- you got high just being there. I've since quit going to concerts for this reason. I guess since I'm now a non-smoker, that's even more reason for me to stop going some places - can't go to clubs because of smokers. Even dread going to parties. Going to my son's wedding week after next has me a little leary, but I'm still going (can't miss that). This was another "great" Joel.
Jitterbug
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From: Joel_ Sent: 10/11/2000 7:32 AM
Hello Jitterbug:

I just brought up a post you might appreciate, "The future of tobacco." It was originally inspired by one of the tobacco court cases but I thought it would give a little perspective of where I hope and I think you hope things will eventually be headed. Talk to you again soon.

Joel
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30 Jun 2001, 19:06#3

I saw the discussion going on between John (Jer) and John (Zep). Thought this article would be of interest in lieu of some of that discussion. Times have changed dramatically for many of us here, but being that we have members from a worldwide community, others are in a totally different environment.

But even those of us who are living in more restrictive smoking environment only have to think back ten or twenty years and they will realize that times have really changed. Those of you who are in a more progressive smoking restricted society should feel great appreciation when realizing how far their personal world has come. Those who are still in a society that has few restrictions should take some hope that change will likely come. No one 20 years ago could have dreamed that smoking restrictions now in place in certain places could have happened where they live. The same will probably happen for you too. Whether or not it is ever restricted around you or not will not effect your success. It is not whether people are smoking by you, only whether or not you are smoking. If you want to stay free always remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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14 Jul 2001, 02:06#4

For César.

We were not always this way in America. Smoking was really big here a few decades back, the social norm really at the time. But awareness of the dangers caused a real shift in the smoking population. With approximately 1,000 smokers dying every day plus millions quitting over the years, we now have as many ex-smokers in the country as current smokers. Add in the never smokers and a real significant majority of people are now non-smokers. This may happen where you are too given time. You may be a real trend setter César. To set the example to all of those around you that there is life after smoking, just prove it to them all as you prove it to yourself by keeping in practice your commitment to never take another puff!

Joel
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18 Jul 2001, 05:02#5

Joel,

Imagine living in a country with smoking rates of 51% amongst males, 25% for females and 22% for physicians (yes, health care professionals). Imagine switching your TV on and watching tobacco ads all day long, no restrictions on billboards, newspapers and magazine ads, and free tobacco samples outside sports events. Imagine asking for a non-smoking table at your favorite restaurant and getting THE non-smoking table next to the restrooms. Mexico is truly a non-smoker's ****. I promise to become more active in the fight against tobacco as I mature as a nonsmoker.

César (Segmento)

1 Week 18 Hours . Cigarettes not smoked: 93. Money saved: $50.58 pesos
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18 Jul 2001, 09:01#6

Joel, one day I got to thinking about 'back then' and I tried to make a mental list of the non-smokers I knew. In my world during the sixties it seemed everyone was smoking, medical personnel, lawyers, judges, movie stars, my parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, my friends, me. People smoked in hospitals, theatres, can't really think of a place off limits except church, there again our priest smoked a pipe but not in church of course, Gads, what a mess we were getting ourselves into. I can't even remember when the advocates against smoking started. I think when it really got my attention was when Yul Brenner died and I can remember seeing him on tv while he was wasting away from lung cancer begging people to stop smoking. That got my attention, but it didn't stop me, just started me thinking. I wish there was someway to get the information from Freedom's Library into schools at all levels and make it mandantory that each and every student, and each and every teacher read the information. I feel so strongly about this that I just know if people are educated about nicotine it will make a difference. Sure, everyone knows nicotine can be disabling or lethal but until they actually see it up close in black and white I think a lot of people think the bad stuff is always going to happen to the other person, not them. If we could somehow get the word out to our young people. I am appaled at how young some of these children are that are taking up the habit. I'am just lucky my children didn't follow my example. There is a thirteen year old young man who lives close to us that comes by once in a while to help clean the barn and make a few dollars. He had the signature ring on his back pocket indicating he was carrying chewing tobacco. One evening while he was here I brought him in and showed him this site, pictures of diseased lungs, Wall of Remembrance, etc. It scared the boy to death. That was about two months ago, and according to his Mother he hasn't chewed since. She said to tell you thank you. Antonia
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27 Sep 2001, 21:49#7

I am bringing this one up to add some perspective on the issue I brought up today in the string, "Why do I see more people smoking than ever." I think if you accurately recall smoking from decades ago, at least those of who are old enough to recall anything from decades ago, you will recognize that in America there has been a dramatic decline in over all smoking. There might be some pockets in America where this is not true, but I think looking at the country as a whole we have made real progress in reducing the number of adult smokers. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for our kids and young adults smoking rates. Actually the age brackets with the highest percentage of smokers are our 18-24 year olds. Also, we have people from many countries around the world, and was wondering if you have all seen any real shifts in numbers of smokers or changes in social perception or pressures on smokers. I am just trying to get an accurate picture of how smoking has been changing over time for our members around the world.
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23 Feb 2002, 20:27#8

This serves as a reminder for those of us in countries that have altered such exposure. But not all of our members have that same luxury, some of our members are still in societies where smoking is a very accepted norm. But even these people should take heart and know that even when smoking was at its peak in America--people did quit smoking even though they were constantly exposed to the smoke of others. Today many of us enjoy the ability avoid smoke most of the times. Hopefully over the coming years all of us will have this ability. But just know the way that you can minimize your own risk of smoking induced diseases is by you always knowing that to avoid the highest exposure to the thousands of chemical in cigarette smoke is by you knowing to never take another puff!

Joel
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26 Apr 2002, 19:20#9

I thought this one would add a little historical perspective of how societies can change over time in regards to smoking regulations and enforcement, in lieu of Triin's post on Estonia's laws on smoking and pregnancy.
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30 May 2002, 21:46#10

Thanks Joel, for all the positive reinforcement - and my goodness, you were so quick off the mark with this thread it almost knocked the wind right out of my sails! (which doesn't happen to me that often these days now that I don't smoke..... LOL)

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20 Jun 2002, 19:57#11

Like some others, I too remember smoking in the workplace. I particularly liked the optimism (spelling?) of this thread. It is good to know that the world is changing....and that rather that persist in harmful habits to both ourselves and others....by chosing not to smoke, we are changing with it. Our homes, offices and public places are becoming more pleasant and safer places....and by never taking another puff, we're part of the solution, not the problem.

Dos (Dubiously)
X-Smoker, Breathing Easy and More Healthy Every Day I do Not Smoke
3 Weeks, 20 Hours, 55 Minutes
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05 Oct 2002, 22:58#12

04 Oct 2002 23:00
British workers want smoke-free workplaces - poll
LONDON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Despite medical evidence of the dangers of passive smoking, many Britons are exposed to smoking in their workplaces although 85 percent believe they should not be.

A survey by anti-smoking group ASH, Action on Smoking and Health, published on Saturday revealed that 11 percent of employees, which equates to more than three million people, said smoking is still allowed in all areas where they work.

"The population understands that passive smoke kills, yet millions are being put at risk," said Marsha Williams of ASH. "This survey reflects the widespread view that it is simply unacceptable to force people to work in smoky conditions if it can be avoided."

Forty-two percent of the 2,000 people who took part in the survey said smoking rooms were provided where they worked and 40 percent reported a complete ban on smoking in their workplace.

Eighty-five percent said the right to a smoke-free workplace outweighed the right to smoke during working hours, and 62 percent of smokers in the survey agreed in principle with workplace restrictions on smoking.

"Our respondents are sanctioning the fact that government should be putting the right to a safe and healthy working environment before the ill-founded complaints of others about smoking restrictions being an attack on their freedom," Williams added.

ASH wants the issue to be debated in parliament because it believes legislation should be introduced to protect workers.

A review of research into the risks of passive smoking by experts at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) showed breathing in second-hand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer.

The concentration of harmful chemical and gases inhaled by passive smokers are not as high as in smokers but they are just as dangerous.
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20 Nov 2002, 09:11#14

For Zengirl:
From: Joel. Sent: 2/23/2002 6:27 AM
This serves as a reminder for those of us in countries that have altered such exposure. But not all of our members have that same luxury, some of our members are still in societies where smoking is a very accepted norm. But even these people should take heart and know that even when smoking was at its peak in America--people did quit smoking even though they were constantly exposed to the smoke of others. Today many of us enjoy the ability avoid smoke most of the times. Hopefully over the coming years all of us will have this ability. But just know the way that you can minimize your own risk of smoking induced diseases is by you always knowing that to avoid the highest exposure to the thousands of chemical in cigarette smoke is by you knowing to never take another puff!

Joel
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12 Apr 2003, 02:03#15

I saw Carlene had the pleasure of sitting next to a smoker at a softball game today. Since I wrote this particular article, I think there is no more smoking allowed in the stands of most professional sporting events in the Chicago area. We are making progress.
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12 Apr 2003, 02:42#16

Wonderful article - thank you for bringing this up. Since the title is "How did we survive back then?", I don't think it will be off-topic for me to comment on how many memories came flooding back to me of my childhood.
I remember riding in the backseat of my parent's car, and their smoke (yes, of course, they both smoked) ALWAYS drifted back there with me. I would beg my Mother to crack her window, and she would, just barely, because she didn't want the wind to mess up her "hairdo" (she's the one now with COPD, my father has quit). I remember them dragging me to their parties and having to endure hours of boring adult conversation and gagging on all the smoke. I mean, one of the first things I swallowed when I was a toddler was a cigarette butt which I was promptly forced to vomit.

And no, I had no idea how irritating smoke was until I became an ex-smoker. I wish I could apologize to all the people I made sick who were just trying to enjoy themselves at outdoor events.

Tracy
Two months, three weeks, one day, 22 hours. 1392 cigarettes not smoked.
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12 Apr 2003, 02:57#17

yup... i remember the same thing mom would only open the window just a crack didn,t want to ruin the bee hive hair .i can remember the burning eyes the stink ect. my mom quit. it killed my dad....yqb..brad..=Two months, four weeks, one day, 1 hour, 50 minutes and 18 seconds. 2642 cigarettes not smoked, saving $528.46. Life saved: 1 week, 2 days, 4 hours, 10 minutes.
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12 Apr 2003, 03:14#18

I really like this one, because it gave me a good way to think about smokers now that I have quit.

Other times when I have quit, I have played a little mind game where I decide to think smokers are stupid and disgusting and I can't believe I ever did that. But that never felt right to me and now I realize that it's because I didn't have an understanding of why people smoke.

I was having a discussion with my professor for the substance abuse awareness class I am taking for teacher certification. She is a never-smoker. She asked me how I could stand being in a restaurant now, when somebody lights up. She told me how rude she considered it, and that her kids would sometimes go right up to the smoker and say something. She asked me if I supported the new ban on public smoking in New York.

Well, I don't go to bars or restaurants very often (too poor!). I don't love it when somebody across the room lights up. But I know now that they are not doing it to make me angry or to be rude. I never was, when I was a smoker. I just didn't consider it rude, really. I didn't know that the smoke was gross. All I knew was that I really needed to smoke.

When somebody in a restaurant lights up, I'm not sure the proper response is to boo or hiss. Mostly I just feel sorry for the person, because of course they are not trying to be rude--They are feeding an addiction. I've been very pleasantly surprised how much easier dealing with my own cessation from smoking, and the current smoking of others is when you see it as an addiction instead of as a habit.

Now that I understand how much maintening an active addiction was stealing from my life (up to and including my ignorant rudeness towards those surrounding me), I am finding it easier and easier to live with the idea of never smoking again. I still get craves but they are easy to blow off in light of the fact that the alternative is so grim. Conversely, I am finding it easier and easier to deal with current smokers, as well--not as evil, rude people, but as people who are under the power of a force that is stronger than they are.

Alex
1 month 4 weeks
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09 May 2003, 20:39#19

This serves as a reminder for those of us in countries that have altered such exposure. But not all of our members have that same luxury, some of our members are still in societies where smoking is a very accepted norm. But even these people should take heart and know that even when smoking was at its peak in America--people did quit smoking even though they were constantly exposed to the smoke of others. Today many of us enjoy the ability avoid smoke most of the times. Hopefully over the coming years all of us will have this ability. But just know the way that you can minimize your own risk of smoking induced diseases is by you always knowing that to avoid the highest exposure to the thousands of chemical in cigarette smoke is by you knowing to never take another puff!

Joel
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04 Dec 2003, 03:05#20

Boy this brings back some memories!

When I was about 6 or 7 years old, my family would go to the local Elks club on Friday nights to play Bingo. Being the late-1960's, the banquet room where the games were held was like a smoke chamber--I imagine it was like being next to one of those "smoking machines" I saw in one of Joel's or John's articles on Whyquit.com.

The smoke would burn our eyes and our clothes stank because of it! My mother was diagnosed with extreme allergies and chronic bronchitis about this time and she stopped atending the bingo nights with us (she has never smoked). When we came home we would have to remove or clothes and hang them up on the front porch to air out before they could be brought in the house the stench was so bad.

Another memory I have is in the early 80's when I was in college. I worked part-time in the back-office of the University library (safely away from the main stacks that any smoking regulations that would have been in place in the "public areas" did not apply in this room) and 2 of the full-time staff members in my work-group smoked. Each one of them (and everyone else on that floor who smoked) had a machine on their desks that was supposed to pull the smoke out of the room. They worked fairly well but not as well as they could have as we still suffered a fair amount of 2nd hand smoke from them.
Then there were 2 different lecture classes I had where the professors smoked RIGHT IN CLASS DURING THEIR LECTURES!!! Talk about setting a poor example for young people! Of course, the effects were not all that bad in these 2-500 seat auditoriums unless you sat down front.

And to think, those were the "good old days!" As the Virginia Slims ads used to say, "You've come a long way baby!"

David - Free and Healing for Twenty Six Days, 5 Hours and 5 Minutes, while extending my life expectancy 1 Day and 15 Hours 19 minutes, by avoiding the use of 472 nicotine delivery devices that would have cost me $35.42.
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04 Dec 2003, 07:01#21

I live in Barrie, Ontario, Canada and Iam terribly fortunate that I do. Last year they passed a non smoking bylaw that no longer allows citizens to smoke in public places. I have often spent time thinking about what a blessing that is to an ex-smoker to be able to quit and then not have to be continually exposed to cigarettes. In recent years I never smoked in my house or my car because I thought it disgusting but not disgusting enough to quit. I carry with me remorse for all the times I exposed others to a habit so gross I wouldn't even have it in my home. I apologise for people behind me in: lineups, concerts, restaurants and movie theatres. I even had the nerve to be irritated if someone showed opposition. You are right Joel that world has changed and thank god it(we)have.
Last edited by hmavmom on 27 Mar 2009, 11:55, edited 1 time in total.
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18 Apr 2004, 00:51#22

Hi all,
I just wanted to post a little on how far things have progressed!!!
I went to a rock concert last night at the Univ of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion and it was SMOKE-FREE. They weren't even letting cigarettes into the building. They searched everyone entering and forced people to either throw-out the smokes or return them to their car....My wife and I discussed how horrified we would have been if we couldn't have smoked for 3 hours...Imagine!!! This was the first concert that I've seen since quiting so I was very pleased to see that it was smoke-free.

Steve

Two months, two weeks, five days, 1590 cigarettes not smoked, saving $393.76.

P.S. It's mind boggling to think I would have consumed 1500+ cigarettes had I continued in slavery!!!
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24 Apr 2004, 22:02#23

I suspect most places with cigar bars still allow smoking in them. (See the post Madison, Wisconsin.) But not all of our members have that same luxury of living in areas with such regulations and some of our members are likely still in societies where smoking is still a very accepted norm. But even these people should take heart and know that even when smoking was at its peak in America--people did quit smoking even though they were constantly exposed to the smoke of others. Today many of us enjoy the ability avoid smoke most of the times. Hopefully over the coming years all of us will have this ability. But just know the way that you can minimize your own risk of smoking induced diseases is by you always knowing that to avoid the highest exposure to the thousands of chemical in cigarette smoke is by you knowing to never take another puff!

Joel
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24 Nov 2004, 22:03#24

I saw a post from a member who was faced with travel abroad and the lax nature of smoking regulations in many other countries.

This string serves as a reminder for those of us in countries that have altered such exposure. As we can see here not all of our members have that same luxury, some of our members are still in societies where smoking is a very accepted norm. Even these people should take heart and know that even when smoking was at its peak in America--people did quit smoking even though they were constantly exposed to the smoke of others.

Today many of us enjoy the ability avoid smoke most of the times. Hopefully over the coming years all of us will have this ability. Just know the way that you can minimize your own risk of smoking induced diseases is by you always knowing that to avoid the highest exposure to the thousands of chemical in cigarette smoke is by you knowing to never take another puff!
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03 Feb 2005, 20:26#25

This string serves as a reminder for those of us in countries that have altered such exposure. As we can see here not all of our members have that same luxury, some of our members are still in societies where smoking is a very accepted norm. Even these people should take heart and know that even when smoking was at its peak in America--people did quit smoking even though they were constantly exposed to the smoke of others. Today many of us enjoy the ability avoid smoke most of the times. Hopefully over the coming years all of us will have this ability. Just know the way that you can minimize your own risk of smoking induced diseases is by you always knowing that to avoid the highest exposure to the thousands of chemical in cigarette smoke is by you knowing to never take another puff!
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