Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Casual smoking can lead to an addiction

Brandon Dunlap

There is no doubt there are those who partake in keggers, drinking games or bar crawls whenever the chance arises — just as there are many with regular, alcohol and pack-a-day cigarette habits. In the midst of a good time, sometimes there is nothing we won’t do to intensify the madness.

When it comes to the subject of enjoyment, college students seem to be the authority on partying and living it up to the umpteenth degree, more so than anyone else. Unfortunately this authority has given us the stigma of being alcoholic, cigarette-toting renegades of debauchery.

But there are few people who light up a Swisher Sweet cigarillo or drink a beer only in the college-party atmosphere. These are the casual smokers and drinkers who don’t regularly associate themselves with Bacardi or Marlboro — just when the celebratory mood calls for it.

Smoking starts with the desire to try it, especially for me. In our society, many see blowing smoke as signaling to suitors you fit the bad-boy or vixen mold. In high school it may have started with smoking a stolen pack of cigarettes behind the building or playground, but in college it’s forced out into the open. Upgrading is needed in college — trying Swisher Sweets or Middleton’s Black and Mild cigars for a fuller and more sophisticated look. These occasional smokers have been enticed by such flavors as cherry, peach and strawberry to create a more thrilling experience.

It bothers me that some occasional smokers actually think the dangers don’t apply to them just because there isn’t a need for a 12-step program. Whatever tobacco product makes you start — whether cigars, cigarettes or “illegal botanicals” — trying it is one thing, but smoking at parties is conducive to a lifestyle that mirrors that of an addict.

By now, everyone should know the dangers and addictive agents found in nicotine, unless you purposely ignore the plethora of ads and television commercials. Attempting to evade the issues of smoking is like trying to avoid a cold in fluctuating weather temperatures. A smoking addiction is so strong it can become a problem even for those who do it only socially.

I also hate when smokers pass judgment or renounce other forms of smoking. Like cigarette smokers saying that blazing a stogie is like smoking 50 cigarettes at once, or smoking cigarettes is better than doing drugs, for example. An addiction is an addiction whether it’s drinking, smoking or anything else.

I’m not trying to pass judgment — I’ve been there and have counseled many friends attempting to quit. Taking the casual puff doesn’t mean exemption. You’re just as much at risk as those who do it regularly.

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