Time to Quit

Time To Quit

     by Paul Ingrassia

Alan slipped out the door and around the corner of the
building into the narrow alley. He hoped Joan and the kids wouldn’t miss him
for a few minutes. After a quick glance up and down the alley to make sure
nobody was around, he removed the loose brick in the wall and revealed his
stash. With shaking hands, Alan pulled out a cigarette and lit it. The
five-year-old tobacco was stale, but he inhaled it deeply, smiling with intense
pleasure. The familiar head-rush caused by infrequent smoking was almost

Alan tried to stay out of sight, but . . .

Screeching tires and flashing lights suddenly interrupted
his ecstasy. He dropped the cigarette and stepped on it, but it was too late.
Corporate police officers streamed into both ends of the alley, guns drawn.

“Police! Freeze!”

Alan quivered and his mouth went dry.

“Down on the ground, now!”

He dropped to his knees. Two officers pinned him down while
a third handcuffed him.

“You have the right to remain silent…”

Joan and the kids were now at the end of the alley, and
Alan’s attention focused on them. He saw a police sergeant approach them.

“Mrs. Winston, thank you for calling us,” he said
to her.

“When will I be getting my reward?” she asked.

“Within a few days,” he said. “The Incorporated American Territories
appreciates citizens who report contraband.”

“When will his trial be?”

“There will be no trial. The CEO of the IAT issued a
memo last week to Corporate Police Headquarters stating anyone found in
possession of contraband shall receive immediate public execution. We will be
taking him straight to Center
Square,” he said. “Mr. Winston will be
burned at the stake.”

It looks like the future will be more like the past.




I’m not a smoker, but I do think people ought to be allowed to poison themselves if they want to.  Once they stamp out tobacco use, what’s next? Chocolate?



  1. Posted March 4, 2011 at 4:53 am | Permalink | Reply

    It’s one thing for smokers to poison themselves; it’s another for them to poison those around them. Smoking in a public place forces others to breathe their poison. Smokers ought to be held to the same levels of civility as eaters. But, hey, the next time I feel like having some chocolate, maybe I’ll stuff some into the mouths of everyone else around me, whether they are allergic to chocolate or not, and whether they like it or not. And I’ll decide how much to feed them. If they don’t like it, they can find somewhere else to be.

    I get physically sick from cigarette smoke–sinus infections. When I go somewhere and someone else there decides to light up, I have to leave. I don’t even visit my own family in Missouri because I can’t get away from the smoke when I go there. My freedom of choice is limited by the actions of smokers. But that’s okay, because we must respect their rights to do to themselves what they want. The fact that they effect others by their actions must be disregarded.

    Since I’m only one person, and since everyone else in the world can tolerate smoke without being affected adversely by it, I guess I should just go crawl under a rock and die. Then everyone can go ahead and smoke without making other people sick.

  2. Posted March 4, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Eye-opener. Taking a ban on smoking to the HNL, this story reads like a page out of Orwell’s 1984. Personally I have a poor tolerance for smoke/smoking around me as well and have never breathed easily around smoke/smokers. It does seem very odd to me that after all the evidence and studies that have now shown tobacco smoking to be such a severe and significant health destroyer, that society hasn’t clumped it with other drugs that are illegal. In my opinion too much momentum has built up around the tobacco industry to make it anywhere remotely easy to change that, but one day, I hope the tide turns anyway. We were talking about this at my house with some family the other month–my solution was to get car companies to make cars that run on tobacco. That way the tobacco industry doesn’t have to be shut down and we don’t have to worry about oil anymore. See? Perfect solution.

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