Why Smoker's Laugh Last

For many non-smokers, the war against smokers in the work-place has been won. ItÕs hard to find a company who lets its employees light up at their desks. Instead, smokers in need of a cigarette are sent off to designated smoking rooms in the far corner of office buildings. As a one-time smoker (I puffed from ages 4-7) who has since kicked the habit, I would love to claim victory over smokers in my office. The truth is: the smokers have won the battle and are laughing all the way to the smoking room. Picture, if you will, the smoker, who would love to have a cigarette. As he strikes a match, a co-worker scolds, ÒYou better take that to the smoking room.Ó And so the smoker wanders off, thinking, ÒO.K., let me get this straight. I canÕt smoke at my desk while staring at figures on my computer, but itÕs fine if I take seven 10-minute breaks throughout the day to sit on a nice, cushiony couch, relax, learn gossip from my fellow smoking co-workers and enjoy a tasty cigarette. Well, I guess IÕll go along with that.Ó The whole concept of the smoking room where smokers can get away from their work seems incredibly unfair to me. I wonÕt argue that I spend my entire day concentrating diligently on my required work. I donÕt; in fact, IÕm writing this during my work hours right now. But, I donÕt get to leave my desk to do it. And that is why I propose that each office in America (or, I can compromise, just my office) adopt a non-smoking room where we, non-smokers, can throughout a normal day take several non-smoking breaks. As it is now, companies are basically telling their employees that itÕs fine for people to take paid breaks to take a breather and suck into their lungs tar and nicotine. But, if you want to take a break to just breathe, thatÕs strictly off limits. It seems that everyone just accepts the fact that smokers need to smoke, and that they need to take smoke breaks. The truth is: I have to breathe just as much, if not more, than they have to smoke. Perhaps, if bosses care that when people take 10-minute breaks, theyÕre actually doing something productive like smoking, they could invent a new oxygen cigarette. It would look just like a normal cigarette, but instead of being filled with tobacco, it would contain air. Thus, I could go to the non-smoking room for a cigarette break where IÕd enjoy a Marlboro Air. Maybe, IÕd try a Marlboro Menthol Air. I could see getting hooked pretty quickly, maybe even smoking two packs of air a day. Perhaps, I wouldnÕt be taking this cause so strongly if I wasnÕt so jealous of the smokers in my office. The guy who sits at the desk next to me is a smoker. He always come back with great office gossip. He makes friends in the smoking room. He meets employees from other ends of the office Ñ people IÕve only dreamt about as I hear their names mentioned on the office intercom. He gets invited to parties, makes dates, and all around enjoys life (albeit, most likely a shorter one) in the office better than most. It raises several question. Are smokers more inclined to gossip than non-smokers? Is the gene for smoking located on the same chromosome as the gene for gossiping? Or, have smokers just been conditioned to gossip better? If there were non-smoking rooms, would non-smokers learn to gossip with time? ItÕs hard to say, but we certainly wonÕt know until we give it a shot.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.