I've been smoking cigarettes since I was 17. I can't quite remember why I started, but I think it had something to do with the homeless always asking me to bum them a Black & Mild, the object of my carcinogenic desires before I started on Death Sticks. For whatever reason, those booze-soaked derelicts could smell the nauseatingly sweet aroma of those packaged cigars from a mile away, regardless whether or not their nose had long since rotted off from untold years of Meth use. I naturally came to associate Black & Milds with poverty, and made up my mind to make change. Change I could believe in.

Whatever got my "hobby" going, I started smoking Marlboro Menthol Milds. That was the only cigarette I'd had up to that point, and familiarity had yet to breed contempt. Soon enough, however, I got tired of my tobacco tasting like a candy cane. When Christmas rolled around, I couldn't walk by the centerpiece in Grandma's kitchen without having a nicotine withdrawal spasm. Imagine the horror on my mother's face when, after asking me to retrieve my cousins presents' from the car outside, my face lit up as I mumbled something incoherent about "finally getting my Goddamn fix." I didn't return for hours. I vowed then and there to acclimate myself to a cigarette-flavored cigarette.

Ever since then, I've been hooked (heh, heh, *cough*) on Camel Filters. I rarely buy cartons; you'd figure if I were neglecting my health (which boy am I ever), I'd at least cover my ass financially. You'd be wrong. There's something psychologically defeating about buying a carton. I have a greater compulsion to smoke when I have more cigarettes. This is basic economics; supply is up, scarcity is down. I've seen what kind of damage I can do to a fresh pack on a Saturday night; I've also seen what kind of damage a carton can do to a fresh lung on a Wednesday afternoon. It ain't pretty.

Anyway, this little spiel is leading to one of my favorite things: a list. We here at PIC love lists, and just ‘cause I've been AWOL for a few months doesn't take the fire out of my soul. On the contrary, absence made the heart grow fonder, so I'm gonna bring it all back home with the laziest and most cliché blog post format know to comedy-kind.

When you think about cigarettes, the obvious drawback is health. People smoke, people get lung cancer or emphysema, people die. Health insurance goes up, hurting your finances, not to mention the base costs of cigarettes themselves. There are, however, some less evident downsides to smoking like a Goddamn chimney. And, well, here are six of them.

In no particular order.

  • Burning Holes in Things

I can't tell you how many time I've been driving in my car down the highway, absentmindedly went to ash out my open window, and ended up knocking the cherry (the lit ball of tobacco at the end of the cigarette for all you healthy-living fucks out there) on my jeans or the floor of my Jeep, only to find out in a few seconds there's a brand new hole in my seat or my t-shirt. That, and I have to relight my cigarette, which just pisses me off to the point that I need another cigarette. These guys are marketing geniuses.

  • Location, Location, Location

I chronicled this in brief earlier this year, but I can't even smoke within 25 feet of an NC State campus building anymore. Not as big of a hassle, since I'm in an apartment now, but the point still stands. I New York, I've heard horror stories of government regulation and whispers of a nameless evil that prohibits smoking inside bars. This country is slowly turning against smokers, planning to snuff them out by making it impossible to smoke without a valid license to do so, and only in the bathtub, and only if you're a homeowner.

  • Scentless and Senseless

Apparently, smoking diminishes your ability to taste and smell. Hey, as long as my steaks don't taste like ash, I'm not too worried about this one.

  • People Hate You For No Reason

I have honestly had people tell me they don't like me because I smoke. I was at a party once, at a friend of a friend's place, when I struck up conversation with this girl who looked smokin' hot and bored out of her skull. I involved her in the conversation my friends and I are already having, but after repeated attempts to integrate her into the discussion, she still looked like she'd rather be fucking a cactus. I asked her why she was so damn quiet, and she looked at all of us in the group, with most of sporting a cigarette in hand, and says, "I hate smokers." Though I could have laid into her then and there (and in retrospect, probably should have), we just ignored her until she left. She could have just been having a shitty day (don't care) or she could just be a perpetually negative person (don't care more), but the fact is there are people out there who resent the smoker for the habit. Bastards.

  • Ash Goes Fucking Everywhere

Right now, my patio looks like the ground after Pompeii. The floor of my car, at times, has resembled the surface of the Moon. If I'm not careful, little flecks of ash find there way to my shirts and stay there, looking like an ashen raindrop has gracefully landed on my chest. Ash gets fucking everywhere. Hell, I'm usually glad when it's ash and not the fiery red meteor at the end of my cancermobile.

  • Multi-Tasking

I don't drive a stick shift, but I can only imagine fiddling with the radio/iPod, driving the car, shifting the gears, smoking a cigarette, and talking on the phone. Now, I'm sure that three of these tasks would be difficult to handle at one time, but I've heard tell of people juggling all these duties at once, with the bonus of eating a sandwich.

Speaking of which, it's lunchtime. And I love a good cigarette after a meal.