It’s worth saying it again: Smoking is a disgusting habit

Why would you go outside to smoke in this weather?


With the weather getting colder and grimmer, the number of smokers in and around St Andrews is multiplying.

Typically I don’t really care: people can do what they want with their bodies, and it’s usually easy enough for me to avoid being swamped by a miasma of someone else’s carcinogens when out in the street. But this past week I’ve barely been able to avoid it.

Picture this: it’s a Thursday, the post Wednesday hangover is strong and that lecture is not where I want to be but I have no real choice. John Donne has got my unwilling attention. I’ve got my seat near the door. I’m fairly isolated. I’m anti-socially ready for this hour of hell to begin. Then in walks the smoker, just as the lecturer begins talking, after their pre-lecture nicotine fix.

The smoke is hanging on them, and because they’re late, they also sit by the door, right behind me. I cannot move. And I now spend the next hour trying not to let the smell of cigarettes make me throw up over the MacBook of the girl next to me. The mere thought of all the crap I’m inhaling nearly sends me over the edge.

I think the main problem is that I don’t understand it, and I don’t pretend to. As someone who very much enjoys the fact that she can make her own choices about nearly everything in life, the fact I can’t selectively choose the air I breathe around smokers grates on me.

You may have decided that cigarette is worth it – let’s be honest if the anti-smoking propaganda hasn’t affected you yet, it never will – but I didn’t. Fresh air is underrated.

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There’s actually nothing I like about it. Many people might try and argue it’s ‘social’, the appeal of which I see when the weather is warm and fine and people are happily outside, or even sat outside on a mountain for après ski where the entirety of Europe seems to smoke.

But this time of year, why would you put yourself through standing outside in the cold and wet of Scotland? Unless that ‘social’ smoking is now an addiction? Oops.

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Do you really need any more of a deterrent?

Then there’s the cost: it’s roughly £8.50 for a packet of 20. The average smoker will supposedly smoke between 10-15 per day. That’s at least nearly £30 per week, or around £120 a month or over £1500 per year. I’m currently saving to visit a friend in New Zealand, and the money the average smoker puts towards their cigarettes in a year would cover my whole holiday, very, very comfortably. It’s not hard to know what choice is preferable.

Then the smell. I know I’ve mentioned this multiple times already, but I really think it’s the worst aspect. It lingers in your hair, on your clothes, on your skin, in your house, with your belongings: everything smells stale. No amount of deodorant, room spray, perfume or chewing gum will ever fully get rid of it. But it’s not just you. If you stand chatting to someone smoking, are in a room full of them or even live with them, the smell permeates you as well. You can keep that to yourself.

Finally, and most importantly, why are you effectively suffocating yourself? Drowning yourself in carcinogens isn’t sexy. Neither is the feeling of running ten miles when you’ve only walked one. That cough you’ve been passing off as ‘freshers flu’ for the past eight weeks might have another cause…

This opinion will divide people – I know many friends of mine will even read this and probably think I’m spouting the same self-righteous shite that they’ve heard a thousand times. Let them – hearing it one more time doesn’t hurt. But that next cigarette might.