Smoke Break?

This week in our series “Tobacco & Twenty-somethings”, by Stacy Song

I don’t see as many people smoking cigarettes as I used too. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and the people I surround myself with are more health conscious than the teenage versions of themselves? Or maybe people are starting to understand the awful impact smoking has on their bodies and the people surrounding them? Whatever the reason is, this realization hasn’t infiltrated the food service industry.

As I’ve mentioned before, I work part-time in a restaurant. I’ve only been there for about five months, but what I’ve gathered about this industry is smoking breaks are welcomed and often encouraged. When I first started working there, after a busy few hours, my manager asked if I wanted to go out for a cigarette. And when I said I don’t need one, he looked a little surprised. In the restaurant industry, it’s understandable if after a lunch rush or dinner rush, someone needs a smoke break but considered weird if you just want to sit down for five minutes. Thankfully, I don’t get in trouble if I want to sit down but the guys in the kitchen definitely get an earful.

More than 75% of the people I work with smoke cigarettes, and I’ve heard that this experience is similar in office environments as well. One of my friends told me he pretends to go out for a cigarette because it’s more acceptable than saying he wants to go outside for a few minutes. Situations similar to these have been happening for a while. There is even an episode called “Last Cigarette Ever” of the television series “How I Met Your Mother.” In this episode, one of the characters, Marshall, starts smoking because he is able to take breaks and get attention from his boss who smokes as well. In the end, all the characters of the show vow to quit and have one last cigarette together, however, it is later mentioned that they failed to quit and it took life changing moments to actually get them to stop the habit.

The point I’m trying to make, which is often reiterated in my posts, is that although smoking can be a good way to be social or a good distraction, in the end, developing an addiction to a cancer causing substance is obviously, not good. Life isn’t like a TV series and it’s not likely that you’re going to be able to quit cold turkey after a scare or meeting your future spouse like in “How I Met Your Mother.” It’s best to stop the habit from developing by being aware of the harmful effects of smoking and keeping your lungs clean.

If you do want to quit, the American Lung Association in California can help you. Click here for more information on their Freedom From Smoking program.

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