The “Pleasure” of Smoking

Jorge Milanés Despaigne

HAVANA TIMES — There are people who feel ecstatic when they smoke, forgetting they deal others a record-breaking blow when they exhale the tobacco smoke in their faces. It’s like a slap in the face that causes no apparent pain.

Smoking may be a genuine pleasure for many people, as a song by the late Argentine tango legend Carlos Gardel maintains. For my friend Olivia, a journalist who is not a regular smoker, it is a whole lot more than that. She set a world record for the longest cigar ash at the 2014 Havana Cigar Festival.

For non-smokers, inhaling the cigarette or cigar smoke is truly disagreeable. I’ve realized that one’s day here can sometimes be rather bothersome in this regard: smokers are all around you from the moment you step onto the street.

Today, for instance, while waiting at the bus stop, two smokers approached me – one from the right and one from the left. I was caught right in the middle!

I tried to discreetly step away from the cloud of smoke. I even crossed the street. But it was all in vain: a minute later, a woman approached me to ask me the time, and she was holding a cigarette in her hand! Incidentally, she stood next to me while I talked to her about this whole issue, but she didn’t seem to get it. I was able to “pry” myself away from her, at any rate.

Despite having done this, it’s possible I smoked several cigarettes that day, and perhaps more than a few.

When I arrived at work – a closed building in the very heart of Old Havana – three of my colleagues were enjoying a bit of the old, lethal “burnt nicotine,” as Pancho, the garbage collector in my neighborhood, calls it. Ricardo was standing by the office door, Celia was on the balcony and Alicia at her work desk. That was the detonator that made my pent-up anger explode.

“Listen up! I can’t put up with all of the cigarette smoke around me anymore,” I said to them, upset. Then I continued:

“Today, I’ve been forced to smoke because of indolent people who simply do things as they please!”

They immediately began to disperse. That made me think.

We all know tobacco is harmful. If they want to smoke, that’s their problem, but, why should I be forced to smoke with them?

It was a very unpleasant morning. And I should make something clear: I occasionally smoke, but no one’s seen me do it. I smoke but I don’t bother other people when I do it.

2 thoughts on “The “Pleasure” of Smoking

  • Cigarettes are/nicotine is addicting.
    Addicts do not care about you.
    Addicts do not care about themselves .
    It is a matter of the majority who are non-smokers to assert their right to NOT have to smoke the smoke of someone next to them.
    IT should not be incumbent upon this non-smoking majority to have to put up with this involuntary sharing of the tobacco smoke.
    Just as you would not want a heroin addict sticking his /her needle in YOUR arm , the cigarette smoker has similarly no right to blow his/her smoke where you have to breathe it.
    As addicts , they have no control over this infringement upon the right of the majority and so doing the right thing has to be enforced upon them .
    They will never voluntarily give up their “right” to blow their shit wherever they might happen to be . That’s not being harsh but only realistic.
    They must have laws put into effect against their particular dangerous behavior because it’s best for society and it’s the democratic ( majority-rule) thing to do ..

  • Lucky those smokers are in Cuba, for if they had been here in the States such disregard for smoking in the workplace would likely gotten them fired. Also, for those who receive medical insurance through their employer, smoking could disqualify them from such insurance–or at least double or treble the employee’s contribution to the plan!
    I still smoke an occasional TOBACO, but while indulging in this pleasure my wife has banishes me from the house to the front porch (which, since maybe early November, has been well below 0 deg. Celsius)! Incidentally, the TOBACO’s I smoke are the humble Holguin SELECTOS, those cigars much maligned by both Lt. Conde and his boss in one of Leonardo Paduro’s metaphysical detective novels!
    I’m glad you spoke up, since it is the only way folks know how strongly you feel about the issue. On my last trip to Cuba, while the TREN FRANCES was waiting to leave the station in Santiago de Cuba, someone three seats in front of me lit up. Despite this being against the rules, plus remonstrances from surrounding passengers, he continued to smoke. (One passenger even stated he should desist since she had a respitory condition.) Finally, many surrounding passengers started cough-cough-coughing, and the thoughtless smoker stubbed out his cig.

Comments are closed.