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Vail Valley Voices: I quit smoking for a laugh

Greg Ziccardi
Vail, CO, Colorado

According to the most recent statistics from the Tax Policy Center, our government’s tax revenue from tobacco sales was more than $1.7 billion in 2009.

Apparently they are still counting the money from 2010 and those figures will be available soon (that, or they have already spent it).

Going back even further, it’s reported there’s been a pretty substantial increase in our government’s take every year, in spite of the fact that fewer people smoke cigarettes and our government spends millions of dollars campaigning for just that result.

Let’s review: The government continues to make money off the poor saps who can’t afford to subsidize Washington, but at the same time can’t quit smoking because of the addictive nature of the product. Who in the hell do we blame for that?

For those who want to argue the additional expense of health care costs related to cigarettes, I will concede some of the numbers. However, you pundits conveniently forget to mention the self-inflicted health care costs you have imposed on these societal outcasts.

You make them stand outside in the winter so as not to annoy the anointed. There, they catch their death of cold or, even worse, blister in the summer under the scorching sun.

I remember when it started with designated smoking areas in the building. It then moved to the outside door entries. That was too close, so it moved to the property across the street. But there was a school there, right next to the park, and if adolescents witnessed an adult doing the deed, the children would then be corrupted.

I’m not sure, but I think smokers in Boulder now have to drive to Rollinsville on their lunch break.

The good news is that smokers keep a lot of people employed who work in the health care industry, and these people pay taxes. That money, in turn, is used to fund nonsmoking campaigns.

Follow me on this one: In spite of what people who don’t smoke think, people who do smoke don’t smell like smoke. They smell like something else. I know this, and it’s not necessarily accurate when a person walks up to you and says, “Oh God, you just had a cigarette and you smell like smoke.”

I have always wanted to say to these people, “I smell like something else. So does my apartment. So do my clothes. And let’s not forget my towels and robe, and look what it’s doing to my teeth. Now give me a kiss.”

I speak from experience, and decided that I’ve had enough.

On Dec. 19, 2011, I opened a prescription of Chantix and began the journey to rid myself of the destruction I have slowly ingested over the years.

You may have seen the commercial advertising the latest Pfizer invention that aids weak people like me wanting to quit, but under duress and a confused state of mind, not really knowing what they want.

Allow me to define this new miracle drug. You take it while you continue to smoke. Somehow this tiny, 0.5 mg tablet knows how to travel from your stomach through your veins and eventually end up at its destination in your brain, where it tells that part of the brain you don’t want another cigarette (amazing stuff).

Problem is, before it gets to that place in your brain, it bumps along and runs into the place where messages are sent to kill yourself. Then it scrapes across the part where you want to yell uncontrollably at your children, friends, coworkers and perfect strangers. Also, randomly at any time during the day, the little pill will tell your brain to sit down and start crying uncontrollably.

Oh, and let’s not forget these really, really vivid nightmares about big-headed snakes and stuff.

That part is OK, though, because you tell your friends and family before you go crazy that you’re going to go crazy according to the instructions on the prescription. Then it’s their job to “call your physician immediately when you experience these potentially dangerous conditions.” Then they look at you when you’re strapped to a gurney and ask, “Why are you taking this drug? This whole thing is scary to us.”

I reply, “My father smoked all his life and had a stroke when he was 65. He spent the next 20 years in a wheelchair and he didn’t laugh as much. I want to laugh all the way through and golf with my son doing it.”

I’m happy to report these three things: I haven’t had a smoke since the drug took over my brain. I still crave one every once in awhile. And my son and I had a good laugh on the golf course this past weekend.


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