The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

My freshman year in college, I took up smoking. I was up to one a week before I quit. That's one cigarette per week. I was way hooked, I tell ya.

I look upon my smoking binge as evidence of my non-addictive nature. I guess that, at best, I could have been considered a part-time smoker--extremely part-time, at that. Today, part-time smoking appears to be catching on, to the consternation of health statisicians.

The woman in the opening paragraphs points out that she only smokes when she drinks (no word on how many packs a day/week that translates to). From the part-time smokers I know, that seems to be the common thread. This is especially the case with women. It seems like going out, having a few, and then firing up a smoke is all part of the same experience--that is, as long as you're getting loaded and out on the town, you might as well indulge in one more vice.

In fact, perhaps "situational smoker" is a more accurate name for these puffers, because their habit is the result of specific time and place, instead of infrequent urges. It's not like every few days, regardless of what they're doing, they suddenly feel like lighting up. It's only when they're partying, or working hard, or (like that old cliche) after having sex that they're reaching for the cigs.

It occurs to me that this part-time smoking phenomenon could be used by the tobacco industry as ammo against the argument that their products are addictive. After all, if tobacco and nicotine is so powerfully addictive, how is it that so many people are able to have a limited amount of them and not get hooked? Are they all not less prone to addiction generally (like me)? I'd be interested in seeing a study like that.

Of course, an alternate theory presents itself in the form of another study: Maybe they're smoking only part of the time because they're forgetting to light up more often.