The joy of smoking

Tue, 02/21/2006 - 4:40pm
By: Letters to the ...

I received an interesting piece of junk mail today. It’s the “2005 Adult Smoker Survey” sent out by National Smoker Services.

There’s an organization called “National Smoker Services”? I wonder if there is a national organization out there corresponding to every other stupid thing we might do to ourselves. Perhaps there is a “National Hit-Your-Face-With-A- Ballpeen-Hammer Services” and a “National Stick-Your-Tongue-On-The-Frozen-Pump-Handle Services.”

Presumably, though, National Smoker Services serves a unique clientele. Their business is with people who not only smoke, but do so cheerfully, unrepentantly. Their vehicles sport bumper stickers that warn the rest of us, “I Smoke and I Vote.”

The message here is both meaningful and worrisome, unlike a similar message that you may have seen in traffic: “I Eat Tofu and I Vote.” The latter is, so far as I can tell, devoid of any useful information, about like, “I Wear Green Socks and Enjoy Scotch Pudding” or “I Take Frequent Bubble Baths and Have a Cat.”

But “I Smoke and I Vote” is both useful and worrisome because it tells me that democracy is in jeopardy in the way that “I Was Abducted By Aliens And I Vote” would communicate this message.

The survey itself is a marketing ploy, designed to aid the tobacco companies in targeting their victims with deadly precision. The questions include:

• What is your usual brand of cigarette?

• How long have you been smoking your usual brand?

• Is the pack of cigarettes you are currently smoking your usual brand?
And so on.

I have what I believe to be a more realistic survey to be sent out to “adult smokers.” Here are a few of the questions.

• How long has it been since you have been able to smell a flower? Taste your food? Walk more than 40 paces without being winded?

• Describe the usual appearance of the substance that you hack up each morning.

• Which of the following cancers has your doctor suggested is the most imminent? Lung cancer, cancer of mouth or tongue, cervical cancer, prostate cancer or stomach cancer?

• What is your usual prescription for high blood pressure?

• If your spouse is also a smoker, are you together encouraging your children to take up smoking?

• If your spouse and children are smokers, are you together encouraging your pets to take up smoking?

• If your spouse and children are non-smokers, do you regularly share your side smoke with them?

• Does your spouse say that kissing you is like licking an ashtray?

• Is the color of your teeth (check all that apply) brown, yellow or black?

• Are your annual expenditures for tobacco products equivalent to a car payment, a house payment, a Caribbean cruise, your children’s college education, a yacht, or your growing medical expenses?

• Would you like to receive information on purchasing a cemetery plot, do you already have one, or are you unable to afford it due to annual expenditure for tobacco products?

Mark Linville
Mlinville (at)

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