One of my earliest childhood memories is being taken by my mother to visit “the folks,” a group of six siblings that comprised my grandmother, her four sisters and her brother. From my perspective as a five-year-old they were ancient, but in reality they were probably no older than I am now. They all lived nearby each other in those wonderful old San Francisco Victorian flats with the long, long hallways.
I vividly recall my mother holding my hand as we walked toward the dark, smoke-filled room at the back of the flat -- and it was always dark, no matter what time of day. The shades were pulled and one lone bare bulb hung down over the middle of a round table where the folks met daily to play poker. Each of them wore a green, plastic visor low over their eyes where the smoke from the long ash on the cigarettes dangling precariously from their lips would collect. I don’t know how they saw a thing.
It was here that my single mother would often drop me while she went off to work at whatever job she happened to have at the time. I have no memories of actually staying in that room, only being deposited there. The folks told my mother that I was no trouble at all and would just curl up in a chair and nap. I rather think I simply passed out from lack of oxygen.
We knew nothing about the dangers of smoking back then and certainly no one had heard of the term “second-hand” smoke. Besides, doctors smoked so how could it be bad?
And it was so glamorous... Hell, even Santa smoked.
In an effort to shock people into quitting smoking or discourage them from starting in the first place, today the FDA revealed a series of graphic photos depicting the health dangers of smoking that it would require tobacco companies to place on each pack of cigarettes they sell.
Wow. You’ve come a long way, baby…
I smoked my last cigarette 30 years ago. What about you?