I was filling out paperwork for a doctor's visit and I came to the question about smoking. This is typically a complicated answer on my part, and I bet, on yours as well.
The usual boilerplate is written something like this:
Q: Do you smoke? Check yes or no.
Q: If you checked ‘yes,' how many cigarettes do you smoke?
When this happens, I take out my pen and give a detailed answer.
Yes, I smoke, but I only smoke cigars—and I smoke them often. Aside from a couple of ill-fated experiments in my long-ago youth, I have never smoked cigarettes.
Cigars and cigarettes are quite different from one another. Cigars, at least the type of cigars you and I smoke, are made entirely from tobacco (almost always dark, air-cured tobacco), rolled by hand and are not inhaled. Cigarettes are cranked out on machines using a host of products, including flue-cured tobacco, and they are sucked deep into the lungs.
Cigarette smokers puff out of addiction. Most cigar smokers, myself included, do not. You don't see cigar smokers huddled in office doorways in the middle of winter, rushing to get a bit of smoking time during a break. I smoke cigars often, but I don't wake up with a burning desire to smoke, nor do I try to rush a last-minute cigar before a long flight, or fire one up the moment I get off a plane. I take breaks from cigar smoking, typically when I go on family vacations, as cigar smoking is a part of my work.
Cigars and cigarettes are quite different, but that difference tends to be lost by most in the medical community, as well as by lawmakers. Smoking, many erroneously believe, is smoking. Some see no difference between a Marlboro and a Macanudo, or a Parliament and a Padrón. But some do.
It brought a much-needed smile to my face when I came to the question in this doctor's office:
Q: Do you smoke cigarettes?
My short answer—no.
There were no questions about cigars.
Cigars are cigars. They are not cigarettes. And it made me happy to see at least one medical professional who clearly knows the difference.
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