Living in a part of the world that has always been (perhaps even a bit too) cavalier towards smokers and smoking, I have accumulated enough examples for a respectable study on the effects of first, second as well as the most in vogue, trendiest and all the rage these days, third hand smoke. Any takers?
Give me fourth and fifth hand smoke any time and I assure you there'll be enough for a representative sample in my life archives for that as well. That's how we in the Balkans roll.
My childhood days were filled with second and third hand smoke. My parents were heavy smokers without much awareness of harmful effects their habit might bring to their kids. I was a smoker for almost 30 years .There was a time back in the mid eighties when three of us in the house smoked like chimneys and my poor brother couldn't open enough windows to breathe.
Everywhere my generation went there was some kind of smoke: if second hand wasn't ominously lingering around, then at least the now fashionable third was glued to the walls and waiting surreptitiously in the carpets and upholstery, ready to jump anyone who entered.
The conclusion I've come to, without any study to confirm it, is that I should have been dead by now. My entire generation should have kicked the bucket so hard it would have echoed throughout the world. Since we haven't, actually most of us 50 somethings do not have any smoking related diseases at all, here's another two part conclusion I've come to.
The ballpark of 10 years less we've all heard of is basically correct. Smokers do tend to live about a decade shorter. They do tend to develop smoking related diseases and have troubles breathing in their senior years. The only ones spared from such fate are genetic lottery winners and I do know some of them as well.
And that's it, as far as any meaningful harmful effects are concerned. You'll notice these are measurable, hence they were proven long ago. But even if they weren't , you would have noticed them yourself, unless you live under a rock and are an island.
I happen to know so many non-smokers exposed to the second, third, and any other hand smoke that may be invented in the near future, who are so blisfully unaffected by it that it would make all those anti-smoking heads in the West spin.
The only situation non-smokers could be harmed is working in poorly ventilated smoke filled spaces. Also, even 50 years ago, smokers here were generally smart enough not to smoke in kids rooms. And my clueless mother cut down on cigarettes as much as she could while pregnant.
Now before you start believing the Balkan peninsula breeds an entire species of Chuck Norrises, let me assure you, we don't.
We fall like flies from all kinds of cardiovascular and cancer crap you all do.
We get injured and die in car accidents even more than you do, because we have a bit crappier cars on average.
There's nothing special about us except maybe that we eat somewhat better. We do more of our own cooking. And some of us smoke while cooking. That may count as three and a half hand smoke, so I better stop right here before giving any ideas to the anti smoking cult of the West.
It's just that I can't for the life of me connect the second and third hand smoke with cancer because it simply doesn't add up. And because we are exposed to hundreds of things our grandparents weren't or were not to such an extent. From the materials our houses were built with, through all those car exhaust fumes and industrial pollution, all the way to uranium in bombs thrown at us during the last war.
Having said all this, perhaps Chuck and I are related somehow.
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