Viewpoint,: Smoking...What You Can’t Smell Can Hurt You

Viewpoint,: Smoking…What You Can’t Smell Can Hurt You

I once worked with a tech that the only time he was not smoking was when he was test-driving a customer’s vehicle. He smoked unfiltered Pall Malls, which had a distinctive smell and taste. He was one of the best techs I ever worked with — he had talent and “the touch.”

One morning, I watched him change the oil on a car (using a two-post lift) without ever putting down his cigarette or oversized coffee cup. Just about any fool can attempt this, but they usually wind up with a coffee mug full of ashes or get smoke in their eyes. He could do it with the grace and agility of a ballroom dancer. Smoker or non-smoker, anybody would have found his dance with his tobacco filled tube and wrench very impressive.

Just about everybody in that shop smoked, including the owner. One week we received a vehicle that needed a new transmission. It was a common vehicle with an uncommon transmission. Once the transmission was pulled, it required a long wait to get it back from the rebuilder.

When I parked the car on the lift, I left the driver’s side window down. It was a bad habit of mine because I was always afraid of locking the keys in the car. The car was in the air for a week at the shop, slowly absorbing the fumes of the four smokers below. When the customer came to pick up the car, he came rushing back in complaining that we had turned his car into an ashtray. The shop owner went out to the car and he could not smell a thing because he was a smoker. But, we sent the car out for detailing and a $75 “ionization” process that neutralized odors — even the strongest smell of wet dog.

The smoking policy changed, but it was never enforced. The attitude was that if we could not smell it, it did not exist. As a gag, my Pall Mall smoking friend strapped a tail pipe exhaust hose to his neck to suck out his fumes as he worked on a convertible.

Smoking and Smell
Our brains can turn down the volume of certain smells if the person is exposed to them on a constant basis, while still being able to smell other smells they encounter. It is why sewage treatment plant workers can go to work everyday and some people live with cats. The same is true for smokers.

Smokers expose themselves to the smell of smoke everyday to the point that they think their smoke does not stink — like the shop owner in the story. Smokers think that if they can smell the coffee and not the tobacco in the morning, that other people can’t smell it either.

Let’s face it, smokers are only 20 percent of the population. Back in the 1960s when smoking was everywhere, even non-smokers had a tolerance to cigarette smoke and they probably could not pick out the smell from the rest of the smells. Times have changed as more people have moved into the non-smoking section. Smokers must be aware that non-smokers are hyper sensitive to the smell and smokers should be considerate even if they cannot smell it.

Smoker!!!
I am a smoker. I’ll admit that I enjoy having a smoke after a good meal or after a hard day. But, I try to be as considerate to non-smokers as much as possible. As of late, the behavior of non-smokers and smokers alike is starting to scare me. Both smokers and non-smokers have become very belligerent towards the issue. In Ohio, they have banned smoking in public and work places.

One non-smoker I know is celebrating the passage of the law like a college bowl game victory. He is taunting smokers to start a verbal brawl, like some over enthusiastic fan does on the way to their car after the big game. When he starts up with me, I am glad that I am shortening my life so I won’t have to spend any extra time on the planet with the likes of him.

I think that people should have the right to smoke as much as a restaurant has the right to put a 72-ounce steak on its menu and offer chicken fried bacon as an appetizer. I also believe that a person should have the right to enjoy a smoke-free environment. In the middle ground between personal responsibility and courtesy, there has to be a compromise where smokers and non-smokers can get along.

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