Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Is It Too Late to Pick Up Smoking Again?

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Is It Too Late to Pick Up Smoking Again?

Article excerpt

The first question I had after reading about the $145 billion cigarette verdict was: Why did I quit?

The second question was: Is it too late to start again?

If all goes well (which it never does), between 300,000 and 700,000 Florida smokers will divvy up the damages which, according to my handy-dandy pocket calculator, works out to between $207,000 and $483,000 per nicotine addict, not counting attorneys fees, tip, tax and valet parking.

That'll buy you a lot of NicoDerm patches, with or without health care reform.

When I was smoking, I had no idea the habit could be so lucrative. In fact, one of the reasons I quit was because cigarettes were getting too expensive. I figured the $30 a week I saved on cigarettes could be better spent on more healthy products like crack cocaine or glue.

Little did I realize that I was cutting into my family's inheritance by giving up the evil weed. What they thought was a healthy decision was really a decision that doomed them to a life of high-mileage used cars, macaroni-and-cheese dinners and vacations in Oneco, Fla.

And it's not like giving up cigarettes was easy. Far from it. Looking back, it's hard to say who suffered more, me or my family. During the first couple weeks of withdrawal, even the dog was afraid to be around me. You've seen the movie Grumpy Old Men? I made Walter Matthau look like Barney the Dinosaur.

But I eventually conquered the addiction and there were no noticeable side effects other than the fact that I gained 50 pounds and now, according to my son, resemble the dad in Family Guy.

I realize that an expanded waistline is not quite the same as lung cancer or emphysema or heart disease, but I think it's clearly a side effect of smoking and, as such, deserves some sort of compensation.

I also went through that terrible period of withdrawal, inflicting who-knows-what kind of psychological damage on my wife, son and dog. Therapy does not come cheap, in case you haven't priced it lately. …

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