Hey there and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast. My name is Sam.
And today we’re asking what’s the craic about smoking. Okay, so we’re gonna look at are we or are we not a smoker, each of us. What our views, what our parents’ views are on smoking. Whether we have considered trying, or quitting.
What it’s like in our hometowns, how does it compare to Novosibirsk where we are at the moment, right now. What advantages and disadvantages are there smoking. Could there be an advantage to smoking? Let’s find out about that.
Heavy tax on cigarettes – is that there here or in our homeplaces. If we have or had children, would we be happy if they smoked. So, sit back, relax, have a listen, and see what you think. It’s a controversial one, but we’re gonna have craic to, right, Brian?
I’m not gonna offend you?
Probably will. So, are you sitting comfortably?
Okay, good. Are you a smoker?
Yes. I’m not… It depends, really, on the day-to-day basis. And to be honest, before I came to Russia, I rarely smoked ever, it was only with a certain friend, who was a heavy smoker and so when I was seeing him I did. Socially, like, very socially.
And never on my own. So, I don’t know.
A few times a week or something?
No! A few times every month maybe, or every other month even. It was very rarely. I never bought them for myself. So I grew up in a home where smoking where smoking was not looked on favorably. My grandfather smoked cigars.
He enjoyed that, he didn’t do it all the time, but he did it. I had a really good friend, a best friend, really, when I was a child, whose parents smoked like chimneys.
and so I grew up hanging out with him, spending time with him at his house, so I grew up around cigarettes, but I never myself partook until I was much older.
Did you passive smoke? A lot? I mean, did you get a lot of passive…?
I mean, of course, yeah. And then I had several friends throughout college and my early adult years who smoked, and I never smoked with them. I just sat there, and they smoked, and it was fine. It didn’t bother me.
And so how many do you smoke now?
Well, it really depends on how often I go outside, if I’m at work, those kind of things. So, probably between 3 and maybe 6 a day- it really depends. It’s never consistent.
No, and sometimes I can go without smoking all day, it’s not something I always do.
Cause I think it’s sort of standard – it’s 20-30-40 a day.
So, I’ll say this – I’m not a smoker. But from what I’ve heard, I mean, 20-30-40 a day is, or was, normal for a smoker. Maybe I’m mistaken, but yeah.
I could not, at this point in my life, smoke an entire pack even, which is 21. I couldn’t smoke that many by myself.
Ever. So, I came here to be with someone, and she is a smoker, and so we smoked together. So it was still kind of a social experience. We’re no longer together, and I still smoke, but much less. And like I said earlier, only really when I’m walking around somewhere outside, you know what?
I’ll have a cigarette. I have time to kill, why not? That’s about the only reason. So it’s not something that I do because I’m addicted, because like I said, I could go an entire day without having any, and be okay.
And I don’t get hungry or jittery or those kind of things when I don’t have one. So the cravings that I’ve described – I don’t experience. But it could be because I don’t have these years or mileage of smoking that some people do. Are you a smoker?
And as for me, I am vividly against smoking. Vividly. I can tell you a story – a couple of times in my youth, I mean , younger youth…
You’re old now, you’re an old man.
Oh yes. Where’s my Zimmer frame? I was maybe 10, 9-10-11, no, I would’ve been 12, about 12. And there were guys in my school, maybe a little bit older who were smoking secretively behind the bicycle shed.
And I was the guy who told the teacher.
And I’m not… I don’t consider myself, I didn’t consider myself pro-establishment or pro, you know, teacher or anything, but…
Margaret Thatcher wasn’t that.
I was simply so against smoking, and so disgusted by it, that I went and I was like ‘Right’. I don’t agree with it, and maybe because I was so young as well, I didn’t agree with it. And I was like ‘right, I’m telling this’.
And another time I was on a youth trip, came there with the church I belonged to, and I fell in with a crowd, which were friendly, nice guys, and everything, but they went off away from the crowd, and I went with them. I was younger, a little bit naïve. And they started to smoke.
I was like okay, I’m getting out of here, cause I didn’t want to stand with them to be honest. I mean, they were older, influential to me, but I was like no, no chance.
So I buggered off and they were like ‘so, you’re not gonna tell’, and I think I even promised that I wouldn’t tell, and then I went straight and told.
Yeah. I know… No integrity. But I dislike smoking so much that I was like ‘yeah, I’m gonna tell’.
And I’m sure that they hated me for that. Maybe not me personally, but they hated the fact that I did that. But I mean, otherwise they were great guys, but I just… I couldn’t have it, so I think you can guess that I’m not a smoker.
I’ve never even tried or had the desire to try cigarettes, although I’ll say this – I had the idea, I’ve gone off the idea, but I had the idea that if I get to 70-80 years of age, I might start smoking a pipe, because I actually like the smell of tobacco from pipe.
But I’ve gone off the idea, I don’t think I would, I think. Well, for reasons I’ll get into later maybe. I’m against that idea even now, but cigarettes – no, not interested, disgusted.
I’ve considered this. My parents, they don’t smoke, they never have. I think, well, I know that my younger brother smokes, at least he smokes some. How often or in front of my parents – I’ve no idea, so I could not answer that.
Okay, hope you don’t get him in trouble for…
Well, to be honest, he’s 30, he’ll be 31, no, he’s already 31, he’ll be 32 later this year. So, if they don’ know…
David. You and I both need Zimmer frames, so it’s okay, I’m a little bit older than you, so it’s okay I must say. Yeah, we’re both not young anymore, sorry.
If he gets in trouble for this, that’s on him.
And honestly, he’s an adult, so if he wants to, it’s his choice.
Brotherly love, David, he is dropping, innit?
There you go. It’s all good.
My parents are against smoking. I would say as strong as I am. And even for religious reason that they feel that it’s actually wrong and sinful. I wouldn’t, I definitely know my Granny would say that you can’t be a Christian and smoke.
I don’t take it to that extreme, I don’t think that’s fair. But I do think that it’s bad, and it’s definitely not for me. And I think that as a… If a person is a Christian, then it could be a poor reflection because of perception in the world, in the Christian world in particular.
That person would be perceived poorly if he does smoke. If he were a leader especially in a Christian organization I think, it would be a poor reflection on you to smoke. Certainly in the church, churches that I have or do attend, it would not be approved of by the majority of the people.
And so, even if… There’s nothing in the Bible that says you can’t smoke, it’s not… It wasn’t there when the Bible was finished, but it is perceived by the people, and it could offend many people if you were seen to smoke.
But I’m not saying that a Christian can’t smoke, I’m just saying that it will offend people in that society. Did you ever consider quitting?
It’s not even… It’s something that I don’t do regularly enough to not quit.
Right. Cause I would say that I’m probably more addicted to coffee. I don’t even consider it an addiction, but I miss my coffee if I don’t have it every day. Whereas you were saying 6 a day, yeah?
Yeah, but you can go without it and it’s not a big deal.
Exactly. So, quitting to me… Quitting’s for losers, who quits! No! No, I could certainly stop if I wanted to. If I felt like…
And I would say that with my coffee, and I’m not sure it’s really doable.
No, if I was dating or married to someone who said ‘you know, there’s a lot of things that I’ll tolerate, smoking’s not one of them’, if I was in a committed relationship, then I would certainly put that away, for that person.
But again, those are relationship issues, so to me, it’s not, for me personally, it’s not an addiction. I’m not addicted to it. It’s something that I do. So, it’s a pastime more than it is anything else.
Smoking is sort of a mini hobby.
Not a hobby, it’s just something like, like watching YouTube, right? It’s something I do to pass the time.
So, that’s it. It’s a relaxing moment. Now, if I was able to have relaxing moments with my friends, have conversations, those kind of things, without smoking, then like I said, I don’t need it.
Do your friends smoke a lot?
Some of my friends do smoke, and so really, that’s when I smoke the most, when I’m spending time with those people. I don’t like smoking alone, I don’t enjoy very much doing anything alone, so you know, really to me it’s more of a conversation participant, I guess.
And I think you get by now, that I won’t try.
Ever. Well, until you’re older with a pipe. By the way, I’ve smoked pipes.
I’m against that idea now, so I really don’t…
You should try. They have so many flavors! They have bubblegum, they have ice cream flavors, they have so many different flavors, and…
No? But you can have a smoking jacket, and just be a cool old man in a nice library.
I’m drinking coffee, I want that to be my lifetime addiction.
Although I do try to drink less. So, in your home… Are you from a city or town?
San Antonio is the second large city in Texas. 8th large city in the United States.
1.5 million people. Probably.
So you’re from a city. I’m from a town, 22 thousand, it’s not a big place, but important to me. Not a lot happening really in general, but important to me, and important to those from that town. So in my hometown, in your home city, do many people smoke?
So, I think it used to be more popular. I lived there till I was 18 years old. Some smoked, some did not. It definitely Is not something everybody does. I couldn’t even give you percentages. I would probably say less than half close to 35-40% of the people smoke.
So, I, like I said earlier, did not smoke at the time. So I was never really into that crowd I guess you could say, or that population. So…
And it’s also about perception too, cause we are not bringing statistics here or anything, but from your perception it wasn’t so many.
Well, also it was expensive. It’s rather expensive in the United States to be a smoker. So you know, you had to be really committed to want to do that.
And in my hometown, it’s tricky because I honestly didn’t spend a lot of time in the general public if you like. If you’re living there, when I lived in my hometown, I was working during the day a lot.
Or actually travelling to another, to the capital of the region, Belfast, to work there. So it’s tricky to say. I think that there are quite a few smokers, it’s an issue, because of the health risks and so on.
But I think there are quite a few, but I feel like it’s not a huge thing, it’s not… It wasn’t a thing that I noticed so many and that annoyed me, as someone who gets annoyed by someone smoking, so.
I would say there are plenty, but maybe not so many that it was like ‘wow!’, shocking to me. Have you noticed a change in the culture surrounding smoking in your home country?
Yes, the United states has definitely taken a stance against smoking. They are doing everything they can to make it less appealing.
But at the same time people that are not smoking cigarettes have taken up e-cigarettes, vaping, marijuana is very popular. So I think if the US government…
I know that people call it crack, but it’s not craic that we’re talking about today.
If the US is trying to make smoking less appealing, they’re only doing that as an alternative now for the popularization of marijuana, which is pretty much going to be legal in the next 4 years nationwide. There’s no way.
So the government’s actively promoting the use of marijuana.
Well, no, they’re not promoting it, the people that are voting, the electorate – they are more attracted to marijuana. And legalizing marijuana would just give some people a different thing to smoke.
And if the government then said ‘okay, we’re gonna make marijuana so cheap that tobacco is prohibitively expensive to smoke, not illegal, but just so expensive there’s no reason to smoke it anymore’, then people are just gonna turn to smoking something else.
Are there the same health problems with marijuana?
I don’t think there are the same issues like lung cancer.
Right. Or any other kind of cancer.
But obviously it’s got other issues.
Yes, marijuana’s normally seen as a therapeutic tool in many cases. There’s not the issue with additives in most marijuana that I’ve heard of. I’ve never smoked marijuana, so the funny thing is I only will smoke cigarettes, cigars, or pipes.
I don’t enjoy smoking hookah – I’ve only tried it once and it was enough for me to know I don’t like it.
If you’re a listener and you think that I should try hookah again. Then find me and we’ll go try it again. Right now I’m dead set I’m against trying again. I will never try marijuana, and I don’t care if you’re listening or not, I don’t find it appealing, any kind of allure there for me.
And there’s a question too about… Have you ever heard about the phrase gateway drug? Where if you take this very soft drug and you get a high and think everything’s great, there’s the risk that you will step up and take a harder drug, because you’ve saw that breaking the rules kind of is okay.
And it gave you a high and it was great, and then you’ll think ‘I’ll step up, and then I’ll step up, and then I’ll step up’, and there’s the risk that you can go get to a much more dangerous illegal substance.
There’s a multivariant argument there both for and against marijuana. Because some have said that marijuana usage decreases the desire to move to things like methamphetamine, crack, cocaine, heroin, because it gives you a high, but without any other risks that the other drugs provide.
As other drugs are so unsafe that to want to do them is something that’s chemically in the brain. It wouldn’t matter if marijuana was legal, illegal, didn’t even exist, that people would find a way to take these other drugs because there’s something chemically wrong with them neurologically.
And so, I don’t really know if that’s true or not, but I have heard some research statistics saying that marijuana is not a gateway drug. But again, I don’t know. I’ve never tried it, I don’t wanna try it.
Okay. So let’s say the principle of gateway drug is if it’s something you know is wrong, or you’ve been told is wrong, but you find out that it’s actually okay and you haven’t had any negatives, so without wanting to promote marijuana, cause I don’t.
if it were legal, maybe it wouldn’t have the same ill effect as being a gateway drug. I don’t know, I don’t know. And I don’t want to pretend I know.
And I don’t want to promote marijuana.
I’ll say as well – in my country, the UK, and Ireland if you go as far as that, back in, I think it was 2008, there was a banning of smoking in public buildings. And in the workplace. And that is great I think, because previous to that people who didn’t want to smoke were exposed to it.
And also I don’t know when this happened, maybe earlier, maybe after, I don’t know, but a lot of pictures, and it’s here in Novosibirsk, a lot of pictures showing the diseases and ill effects that can happen from smoking are put on very prominently over the…
Stuck right over the marketing and the material on the cigarettes. And you now what? I think it’s… It should be there I think, actually. Well, as a government I think too, in the UK there is a free health service – you pay national health…
It’s not free, but it’s provided to everyone equally if you like. Each person who works, pays national health insurance, and they have access to the health insurance, the health service for no extra cost.
But someone who smokes in my view is abusing that system, because there’s risk in their health, possibly destroying the health, and abusing the system if you like, particularly in the UK.
I have a counterargument for that.
No, you can’t, you’re not allowed to argue!
No I can, I enjoy a debate, I enjoy a good row, so.
Fisticuffs, okay. If the government can use national health care as a pre-cursor to it making someone like smoking prohibited, right, they can also do the same thing for diet, and they will. And that’s the problem – if the government can tell you…
Don’t eat chocolate, sweets.
Exactly, because your weight is this, because you’re this age, because your family is prone to this disease, your diet must be this. No, thank you.
Well obviously, I think you’re completely wrong.
That’s alright, that’s okay.
No, you have a good point.
It will. Not it could, it will.
It will, or would, result in more of control over some…
If you start saying what people can and can’t do regarding their health. I guess it’s better to promote the healthy things rather than, un-demote the unhealthy things, rather than just… And the government is doing that.
They’re not saying ‘you can’t smoke’, they’re not banning, at least…
And of course we’ve already talked about that things that are illegal are not always not done, so if you make smoking illegal, people will still do it if they want. People know that things like cocaine are illegal, they still find a way to purchase cocaine.
All you do is you’re raising the price, decreasing the quality, right, and making everyone a criminal, and making more people criminals. Which I don’t think any government needs, more criminals.
But then again, doesn’t the government get responsible to stop people from doing something that will harm?
I’m gonna take a libertarian point of view – later, but I think the best government…
If you see either of us with a black eye, you’ll know.
No, I think that the best government is the one that does the least to control people’s behavior. I think that the government that does too much is taking liberty and choice from its citizens.
Okay, How is Novosibirsk compared to… I’m not gonna go…
How is Novosibirsk compared to our home countries?
Most of Europe I have noticed, at least the places that I have gone, which I’ve been to many European countries, smoke much more than the United States.
More than the United states?
How about this city compared to the United States?
This city personally, again, is in Europe, I mean, yes, it’s kinda Asian continent, but it’s part of Asia…
It’s generally considered as a European country.
Right. I will not say Russia is Asian like Korea or China.
With European people, generally European people.
Not inclusively or exclusively.
I’m on a continent of Asia, as you’re responding to me that I’m a European a while ag. And I thought ‘really?’ Cause I always thought I’m British, or I’m Northern Irish. So now I’m… But coming from…
Either living in a small city with 500 thousand or living in a small town with 22 thousand I have noticed that there are huge amount of smokers. And maybe it’s simply because the population’s bigger, but for me it’s like wow!
So many smokers! And it seems to me that I have no statistics to back it up, it seems to me like a third of the population is smoking.
It’s more than that, I guarantee you, it’s more than that.
For me as someone who doesn’t want to breathe it, it’s kind of like a going out and walking around is kinda like a quest or, you know, an obstacle course. And I don’t know if many people go to this extreme, but I hold my breath and might even be so bold as to hold my nose sometimes. Not breathing.
Well, if you’re allergic, if you’re sensitive, I understand. No, that would definitely be a problem for you, I think that the government here in Novosibirsk and around Russia are making it so difficult for smokers to smoke almost anywhere.
Like it’s very difficult to smoke anywhere. In a building… in the US when I was a child, there were restaurants that had designated smoking sections, and the airplanes had area you could smoke. I remember.
I’m ancient. I remember you could smoke in bars. I don’t remember any libraries or high schools or anything having smoking available, but that was only recently done when I was young, so here in Russia it’s very much the same.
You cannot smoke in a restaurant or a café. Yet it’s different in most of Europe. Because I spent a good amount of time in Spain and in Germany, and in both of those places every outdoor restaurant you can smoke at.
Every one of them. So that is different to me. Russia is closer to the US.
But as a non-smoker that could be a pain, because you may want to enjoy the sunshine and the summer. But you don’t want to be exposed to smoke, so that can be… I mean it’s great for a smoker.
But that can be a negative too.
For me, like I said, I was never anti-smoking, I didn’t smoke. It didn’t bother me, it didn’t bother my ex-wife, she wasn’t a smoker either. So for us, it was just we were in Europe, and people smoked, okay.
You know, it’s just part of the culture. So, Novosibirsk I think is closer to the US, and I guess to the UK when it comes to trying to limit the availability of where you can smoke.
Right. Advantages of smoking – what does it do? What are the pluses?
Again, for me it’s a past time. So for me it’s just something that I used like standing around a water cooler, so to speak. You’re just sharing a conversation, social activity, that’s all it is. Healthwise it has no advantages to my knowledge. None.
I know the doctors back in the 1950s promoted it and said that getting certain kind of cigarettes was high quality that there were even advantages in having young children smoke, you know, get them smoking early.
Because this was all long before the cancer research was done. Those things just weren’t available, so. Aside from the fact that’s a pastime it’s simple joy, I can’t say I know of any betters.
Connection with other smokers. But you could take up tillywigs instead.
Okay. What are the disadvantages?
Well, there are numerous. There are obviously health disadvantages, I think that people that are allergic to smoking, that that’s going to be an issue. I think that some people just…
Are there people allergic to it?
I’ve heard. I have heard.
Well, I mean, … you know, so, but anyway. I think that some people just don’t prefer the smell and so you can run off friends or potential spouses or dating partners, so I think there are a number of disadvantages.
Yellowing of your nails, aging of your skin.
Well, I don’t know, because in Spain everyone smokes like a chimney, and they don’t look very old, so I don’t know. You know, I would say that there aren’t many advantages to smoking. There are way more disadvantages.
It can be expensive sometimes.
I’m not going to disagree. As someone who doesn’t like smoking… I don’t think anyone could argue. I mean, could someone… Do you know anyone who argues that smoking is okay?
I think it’s a farse, I think it’s a farse, they’re not honest.
And I think it’s a smoker that will do to say that. And they’re kind of full of themselves maybe, maybe as bad as what the doctors say. Is there a heavy tax in the US? I think you answered that. And I guess it’s the same in the UK, I’m sure it’s the same in the UK.
In fact most of the price of cigarettes is due to tax. I remember when I was a child that you could buy cigarettes for, you know, two dollars a pack. Which at the time was not very expensive. Now, unless you buy a pack of…
Unless you buy three packs at a time, you’re gonna pay at least $7 a pack, which, you know, if you’re making enough money in the US, is not too much. It’s not prohibitively expensive, but it is something you have to calculate, especially if you have a limited income. If you’re making a minimum wage…
You can save a lot of money if you‘re not smoking.
There was a joke that somebody asked… The lady asks a guy ‘Do you smoke?’, ‘yes, I smoke’. Well if the cigarettes cost as much if you’ve saved all this money for 30 years or how long you’ve been smoking, you could buy a Ferrari.
And the guy says ‘do you smoke?’ ‘No’, and he says ‘Where’s your Ferrari?’ And so I think that people find ways to spend money on things they want.
And save money when they want to. And so is it expensive to smoke in the US? Yes. Is it cheap here in Russia? It is very cheap.
Yes. You can buy a pack for 95 rubles, very decent, you know, quality brand. If you want more expensive, you can spend as much as 200 rubles, which still is not nearly as much as you pay in the US. If you’re even equating for wages, inflation and different crisis.
If you have or if you had children, would you be happy for them to smoke?
I think that… It really depends how old are they, a) If they’re still children, no.
So let’s say they’re 18, they get to 18, they see their mom and dad smoking.
I would talk to them first about the consequences of this to your body while you’re developing. Because it is a well-known scientific fact…
Yes. I would say that you have to evaluate this, you’re not done growing and developing biologically until you’re 25.
It can, or it can have more harmful effects. Now once you’re 25, your body is pretty much developed, you’re as tall as you’re going to be, your brain is where it’s going to be. Right? You’re never going to get any better physically. Now, working out, those kinds of things – sure.
Yeah, well, you know, me too, they are. So I would talk about that because both cigarettes and alcohol could have that effect.
After 25 you’ll be like ‘yeah you can smoke’.
At 25, if you want to, you know the effects, you know the harms, you’re an adult. You have free will, so.
As someone who does not like even the smell of it, I would be like… I would be cross, but I’d be like ‘okay, you smoke, if you really can’t avoid it, but please don’t smoke around me’.
So, I would be like that. But I wouldn’t be happy for sure. Do you think the smokers are gonna increase their number of smokers? Or decrease? In the world in general.
Well I kinda mentioned this earlier in the way that the US is decriminalizing one aspect, one thing to smoke, I think that if we’re looking at smoking in general, not smoking only tobacco, smoking in general, I think it’s going to increase.
There is significant research in the United States talking about the increase of vaping and e-cigarettes. And of course we mentioned earlier marijuana is very popular right now in the United States, especially among those who are 18 to 30.
They’re gonna be around a lot longer, unless they’re older. So they may replace tobacco smokers with marijuana or vaping. But I don’t think we’re going to see a significant decrease.
So vaping and marijuana is maybe healthier?
I don’t know. Apparently they say that vaping is not as harmful, it doesn’t contain many of the additives. It gives you some of the same feeling.
Harmful, but not as terrible.
Right. But of course you should remember that people have a great way of harming themselves, right? We really love being self-destruct.
Even as a nonsmoker, there is a propensity to take some kind of risk.
Not like suicidal or anything.
But I think that if we’re going to say smoking in general, not only tobacco smoking, I can see it certainly increasing, or at least not decreasing in the future.
So there you go guys. That was all about smoking and that was the craic, but not the crack that Brian mentioned. None of that here, on these podcasts. So we talked about whether or not we smoke. We had a talk about each of our opinion’s on that.
We talked about their benefits and the negatives of it. About the culture in our own countries about smoking and what differences we noticed in Novosibirsk, Russia.
We’ve talked about whether we’d be happy with our kids to smoke. And we found that absolutely I am right and Brian’s wrong.
I’m joking. So there you are, that was the craic about smoking.