By Avery Keatley
Conjure up an image of Humphrey Bogart. What does he look like? Is he wearing his fedora from The Maltese Falcon? Or in he dressed in the white suit from Casablanca?
Is he smoking?
Old Hollywood is practically synonymous with smoking–smoky bars, smoky homes, smoky women in smoky parlors. Who could forget the iconic photograph of Audrey Hepburn flaunting a cigarette holder so long and so absurd it must be elegant?
But new Hollywood–if there is such a thing–carries on the tradition of smoking just as heavily as it’s predecessors. Is there a scene is The Departed where no one is smoking? Even Walter White from AMC’s Breaking Bad lights up a cigar despite his lung cancer saying, “I’ve already got cancer.” But the I-already-have-lung-disease-so-who-cares mindset isn’t just for drama on the big screen.
Take a guess: about what percent of asthmatics smoke? 10%? Not high enough. A quarter? Getting closer.
About 20-35% of asthmatics worldwide smoke according the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology–a number that roughly mirrors the percent of smokers worldwide. Why? is a good question to ask.
Although smoking, especially in old movies, is touted as the cure all for wracked nerves, nicotine is actually a stimulant. The “relaxation” that smoking provides is because of the stress smokers feel for nicotine. Nicotine creates a need for itself in the brain, and teaches your brain that quelling this need is relaxing, when in fact, you are raising your heart rate.
There is no new way to say this: smoking is bad for you. Maybe the emphasis should be on you. Humans have an immense ability for denial, imagining that smoking, while it might be bad, is not bad for them specifically.
It is. It is bad for you. It is as bad for you as it was for Humphrey Bogart, who died at the early age of 57 from esophageal cancer. For anyone looking to quit, http://smokefree.gov/ has free programs.