Smoke ’Em If You Got ’Em (While You Still Can)
The level of vitriol aimed at smokers today is at an all-time high. Once as benign as a cup of coffee, cigarettes have become demonized and those who smoke them are being further pushed away from society, ostracized to the sidewalks — until that’s banned too.
The confusing indoor smoking ban that was passed across Ohio last November became a heated water-cooler conversation starter, but the loudest voices seem to always come from people who are vehemently against smoking.
In this week’s CityBeat, smokers get their say. As with other drugs, there’s a good reason people start smoking: We like it. Check out our take on “Why We Smoke,” an update on the smoking ban’s enforcement difficulties and a list of the Top 20 cultural icons who make us want to light up.
It’s an admittedly unsafe yet legal recreational activity that many of us find relaxing, stimulating and rewarding. After all of the negative propaganda about cigarettes, we felt it was time to give voice to those of us who derive great joy from lighting up. (And, yes, we expect to get more than a couple angry letters.)
Part of this week’s cover story package in CityBeat looks back at those famous and infamous folks who have inspired people to smoke over the years. From James Dean to Keith Richards to Johnny Depp, celebrities have made smoking look cool and helped thousands (maybe millions) on their way to a nicotine habit.
But there are also those notable and notorious people who have made us want to quit smoking. Here is a bonus companion list to the smoking cover story, featuring five cultural icons who ruined it for the rest of us.
Five Influentials Who Make Us Want to Quit Smoking
1) Yul Brynner
From his famous post-mortem commercial: “Now that I’m gone, I tell you: Don’t smoke, whatever you do.” Dude, you’re bumming us out. We thought you were an android.
2) Joe Camel
The tobacco companies had a hard time convincing the public that this was not an attempt to get kids to start smoking. The new “Dora the Explorer Ultra Lights” aren’t helping our cause either.
3) Marge Schott
There are things to love about ol’ Marge: She was funny, she helped facilitate a Reds World Series victory and she gave oodles to charity. But between the racism, homophobia and Nazi-sympathizing of her national reputation, those omnipresent cigarettes looked … well, what’s the furthest opposite of the word “cool”?
4) Andrew Dice Clay
The crude (in an unfunny way) comedian’s relatively quick plummet from superstardom proved that his material was pure shock value, drawing a crowd only because of the bawdy language and his lowest-common-denominator sense of humor. His “Jersey prick” shtick greatly perpetuated the “smokers as asshole” stereotype.
5) Courtney Love
The black widow of Grunge brings smoking down to the level of such activities as vomiting, rambling incessantly and flashing your hoo-ha in public.
— Mike Breen
(Photos: Rat Pack: allartco.net; Keith Richards by David LaChapelle; Hunter S. Thompson: zipcon.com; James Dean: counter-ads.net; Johnny Depp: celebrity-exchange.com; James Bond/Sean Connery: MGM; Bette Davis: josao.com; Humphrey Bogart: answers.com; Greg Dulli by Chris Cuffaro; Johnny Carson: darleenclick.com)