Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Whose Life Is It Anyway?

Please don’t say I didn’t try. I really did. But the only thing I ever got was a headache, which is just as well as it saved me from becoming addicted to a substance that is at least said to be harder to kick than heroin. Although I’m not a fan of tobacco or tobacco companies, which have a sorry history of lying about their product, and as a non-smoker the last thing I want is my lungs to be filled with something that causes cancer (though let’s face it Joe Jackson was on to something), it’s still hard to see the photo below and not think it reeks of  the isolation connected both to contagious diseases and unruly prisoners:

800px-Airport_Munich_innen_2009_PD_20090404_026(Photographer: Politikaner)

I wasn’t aware until very recently that there were employees who were actually being tested for nicotine or that people were being turned down for employment because they smoked. Which of course raises the question, Whose Life Is It Anyway?

For those who have never heard it, why not have a listen to Sixteen Tons:

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15 thoughts on “Whose Life Is It Anyway?

  1. arjcee on said:

    Nice post, Tom.

    My own view of the smoking chamber (step right this way, said the spider to the fly) is it’s at least civilized. In America, by contrast, indoor smoking has been all but abolished. Though it is more than a decade since I was a smoker, I would happily support creation of these self-contained public smoking zones.

    However, I would also like booths to be set up for non-smokers, though for another purpose. These would be stations that can acoustically isolate one from the babble of all his zealous, prohibition-minded countrymen. The holier, the cleaner-aired-than-thou. No CNN, no FOX would be piped inside; no advertisements either. No Jesus. No flags. Call these Bullshit Free Zones. Surely it isn’t fair that only smokers can take refuge from the madding crowd…

    “Whose life is it anyway?” It is yours only if you can keep the hands of the state, the church, the corporation and the crusading meddlers off it. Achieving this is far from assured in the US of A, where each of the aforementioned paws and guffaws at the notion of liberty.

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  2. I absolutely love the idea of booths set up for non-smokers.

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  3. The song’s message was clear and sad. I loved it.

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  4. About the “isolation booths” for smokers. I once worked at a newspaper where they had a separate room for smokers. The company did a secret study on how often smokers were taking breaks – and for how long. The originally off-white ceiling tiles were yellow from the smoke. The company eliminated that room and indoor smoking. Health insurance costs were probably factored in as well.

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  5. 16 Tons is a great song!
    I am a former smoker and someone who lost his mother to lung-cancer. However, I think the assault on smokers is fascistic. Our bodies are our own, except to the extent the state says they belong to the people.

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    • My dad’s death was probably smoking related as well. It’s not something I’d recommend if anyone asked, but I’m sure not going to advise them. It’s their life after all to do with it what they will.

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      • I’m reminded of the great SNL gag when George Burns died (and forgive me if I’ve told this before). The SNL news anchor, Norm McDonald, in front of a picture of Burns with his famous cigar showing the dates of the comedian’s century-long life, solemnly said, “Some sad news. George Burns died recently at 100 years old. SEE KIDS? SMOKING KILLS!”

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  6. Excellent post, Tom, and the point well made!!!

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  7. 1) I tried smoking, too–to be cool, of course–and a headache was all I got. My parents lives were shortened by smoking as well. Also I worked at newspaper (earthriderjudyberman comments are spot-on) and there the boss held meetings in the smoking areas so whether you smoked or not there you had to be to be one of the chosen. Now there is practically no public smoking allowed around here and I’m good with that.
    2) Arjcee’s idea of public “Bullshit Free Zones” is great. I have one where I now sit (save for my brand of BS), but I would be nice to have them out there too. 3) I read sixteen tons as an anti-increasing wealth gap anthem, being about people owned by the company store which is a bigger, broader issue than smoking.
    Anyway, thanks for the continuing likes. May I ask why?

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  8. The song came to mind when I read the article about employers testing their employees for nicotine since it’s a means of control. The great strides made through unionization since the time mentioned in Sixteen Tons have deteriorated.

    As for my likes, depends on the post in question. Some of them get me to think about what you’ve written; others get me to wonder about what you’ve drawn. The last one I agreed with the sentiments you expressed.
    http://ehjohnson3.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/indisposed-by-fear-and-sloth/

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  9. the basic principle of inhaling smoke is a really odd one, and no doubt it causes harm, but I used to know a lot of single mums who smoked – it was the only thing they did that the kids didn’t demand a share in, the only time she actually got to be alone and think. So for them it was sort of an alternative to losing their temper with the kids, so maybe a good thing.

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  10. Anonymous on said:

    Tom, this is a great, great post!! First of all, we used to listed to my grandparents’ Tennessee Ernie Ford version of “Sixteen Tons”. Today, it is till one of my favorite songs and I know it by heart. (Who out there now knows what a ‘company store’ is, hm?). Also, I definitely agree with others’ comments about about isolation booths. While I hate that that’s what it’s come to for the smokers (but yes, of course, am glad there’s a smoking ban), I too want one to just simply eliminate the noise. In fact it’s not CNN or Fox, it’s the loud-mouth jerks on their cell phones. Frankly, I think they should be banned in public areas. Sorry, had to rant a moment.

    On another note, as always your kindness in noticing some of my posts is greatly appreciated, so thanks for liking “Pollen Paint”, “Purple Empress Flower” and “Yertle the Turtle and Friends”

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