I’ve never smoked a cigarette, not even a puff. Perhaps because of this, I’ve spent my life monitoring both my smoking and non-smoking friends, keeping a tally of which side seems to have better lives. I wonder, if smoking weren’t detrimental to health, would I pick up a cigarette? There are pros and cons.
Pro: Looking cool. It doesn’t matter what you were taught in school: Smoking is cool. If it wasn’t, no one would do it, especially not after seeing Debbie.
Con: Having to stand outside in the winter, cold and shivering, huddled over a cigarette, just to smoke.
Pro: Having a ready excuse to walk away from a boring conversation at a party. (“Excuse me, I’m just going to go have a cigarette.”)
Con: Having to shell out $11 a pack, even when you’re broke.
Con: That one friend who’s in denial about the fact that they smoke, so they never buy their own pack, yet always ask for a cigarette whenever you take out yours, and of course you always give it to them, but secretly it annoys you.
Pro: Always having something to do with your hands.
Pro: When non-smokers get asked “I’m gonna go smoke a cigarette, wanna come?” a very awkward 10 minutes of standing outside sort of hugging-yourself-while-the-other-person-smokes ensues. If you smoke, you can partake, instead of just standing there, watching, waiting to go back inside.
Con: The word “smokes” as a plural noun inevitably becoming part of your life.
Pro: The perfect prop if you ever need to seem tragic, but sexy. (Which, honestly, maybe you should try a little more often.)
Pro: Smoking cigarettes doesn’t have any immediate side effects. You can smoke 10 cigarettes at a party and still drive yourself home.
Con: Smoking cigarettes doesn’t have any immediate side effects. You can smoke 10 cigarettes at a party and still be your awkward, slightly bored self.
Con: The smell, on your breath and on your clothes, instantly alerting everyone around you to the fact that you’ve just been smoking. (No one can smell your clothes and and accuse you of just having had a Diet Coke, for example.)
Con: Lipstick on cigarette butts. (Worse than lipstick on coffee cups?)
Pro: When you’re hanging out in a neighborhood much cooler than you are, and everyone is wearing sleeves of tattoos, and you’re wearing sleeves of an Ann Taylor Loft shift dress (a tragic mistake, you’re now realizing). And your friend is late and you’re not sure you’re at the right bar so you’re just sort of wandering around. And it’s clear (to you, and, you imagine, to everyone you pass) that you are walking up and down these unfamiliar streets with no real place to be. And you think: If only I had a cigarette! Then you wouldn’t be wandering, panicked and self-conscious — you’d be smoking. You’d have a purpose.
Pro: Smokers get to take a million breaks during the workday, wherein they can go outside and smoke and make phone calls or walk around. Non-smokers can’t say “I’m going to go outside to text my friend for a little bit, I’ll be back.”
Con: Most smokers want to quit eventually. So it would just be another thing on a perpetual to-do list hanging over your head, like “Write a novel, learn Spanish, and watch The Wire.”
Con: Pregnancy and transatlantic flights must really suck for smokers.
Pro: Approaching someone at a bar is hard. Approaching someone outside the bar by asking for a light is easy.
Con: Wrinkles around your lips from puckering.
Pro: If ever in your life you think you might visit Berlin, you should probably start smoking now.
Con: Nicotine stains on fingers, or fear thereof.
Pro: Smokers all seem to feel persecuted: This binds them together in an elite members-only club. Non-smokers aren’t allowed behind the velvet “Smoking Area” ropes.
Con: Being a smoker and also caring about the environment, which means bending down to pick up your cigarette butts off the ground and carrying them around in a tissue in your purse until you find an appropriate trash receptacle.
Pro: Something to do while you sit on your fire escape and gaze out onto the city (if you don’t know the chords to “Moon River”).
Con: Reaching for your pack and finding you’ve smoked the last one, and can’t procure more until tomorrow. Having to go to bed on that note.
Pro: An excuse to relax for five minutes at a time, to sit back, to do nothing.
Con: Gross teeth.
Verdict: Inconclusive. Might take another decade of observation, just to be sure.
Previously: The Facebook Purity Test.
Chiara Atik is never going to smoke, but should she?