My dear, departed father, Robert Clay Berner, smoked more than 1,250,000 cigarettes in his lifetime. That’s two-plus packs a day from age 14 to 83.
All were Camels, unfiltered. He paused for about six months after a quadruple bypass.
Never a thank-you note from the cigarette company.
It’s that time again for New Year’s resolutions. Dad never made one, especially about smoking.
It’s easy to see people smoking and vaping because it’s now an outdoor activity, at least 25 feet from entrances.
But, most I meet say they intend to quit or would like to quit.
It’s expensive. It’s a health risk. It’s grown culturally less acceptable.
The list of the well-known who smoke is long — Lady Gaga, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kristen Stewart, Miley Cyrus, Michael Fassbender …
The list of the ingredients in cigarette smoke is longer — benzene, arsenic, cadmium, formaldehyde, lead, nickel, butadiene, chromium, polonium — plus hundreds more.
When I would return to St. Louis, I would clean the inside windows of my dad’s Toyota Corolla.
The towels would become dark brown.
A reversal was taking place. The son is nagging the parent — “Here’s the inside of your lungs. Here’s the smoking gun.”
My dad saw the cultural swing as a personal-rights infringement.
Frank Zappa said, “The whole pitch about smoking has gone from being a health issue to a moral issue and when they reduce something to a moral issue, it has no place in any kind of legislation, as far as I’m concerned.”
So, best not to nag dad.
Be hopeful and think many of the smokers who say they’re intending to quit will keep their promise to themselves.
Best to think of Alfred Tennyson on the New Year: “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier.’ “