Long live the career smoker

As a non-smoker who believes that the ostracism of smokers has gone a little too far, I just loved these paragraphs by Dave Eggers in Esquire’s Book of Great Writing.

When “WoodyWilner [the lawyer who sued and won against the tobacco companies] says in conversation and in court that smokers are “weak”, he is of course right, but he also couldn’t be more wrong. Smokers are the most stalwart and persevering people there are. Who but someone with a will of iron could bear such pressure—the sneers of strangers, the glares of his sons and daughters, the bitter, seething comments of the people who are forced to tolerate him and his aura—such decades-long opprobrium?

Who else would be willing to leave his office twice an hour to stand in the cold or rain to suck smoke from a paper tube? Who else would be willing to forgo going out to dinner, to movies, to any public place where smoking is not permitted, for fear that the urge will strike and not be quenchable?

Who but a giant could look at a dying wife, a pleading family, and a young son who will soon lose his mother and whose fate you hold in your yellowed fingers—will this boy lose one parent or two?—and yet still continue? Who but a man of outrageous fortitude, a will of steel, a mind of golden labyrinths?

A tobacco death requires years of meticulous attention and constant, obsessive care; it is perhaps a marvel of mortal achievement. When you die from smoking, the death is yours.


Excerpted from “Long Live the Career Smoker” from Esquire’s Big Book of Great Writing, Hearst Books, 2003


1 Comment »

  1. Brilliant piece, but I say continue the persecution!

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