The thing about smoking bans, like the one Mayor John Street will push in this coming legislative session, is that they go over so well with the masses because it's hard for opponents to define their opposing principles without it being all about me.

I smoke because it looks cool. And it differentiates me from people who do not smoke, and therefore do not look cool.

"Smoking is cool." It's short, sweet and easy to memorize, so it has all the best qualities of a revolutionary slogan, but unfortunately, none of the mass appeal.

Because see, behind the smokescreen (oops) of individual property rights is the issue of my fundamental right to passive-aggressively blow smoke in the faces of people I don't like. And since I have vulnerably long hair, no nails and an inflated sense of self-importance that entitles me to criticize everyone I see -- and I still make a fist with my thumb tucked safely underneath my fingers -- the 8 cm of fire and carcinogenic brimstone between my fingers is the only thing between me and the sorry end of a bar brawl.

Cigarettes really are a crutch, but I'm sure anyone who has ever sprained an ankle will tell you that the best thing about crutches is you can hit people with them when they're not looking.

Frankly, it is not for The Man to say where I can or cannot give less cool people cancer. But the government thinks it can stop me from playing God in bars and restaurants across America. Already, New York and California are out. Even my hometown, Lexington, Ky., passed a smoking ban last year. Kentucky, where economic stability is achieved mainly through tobacco and bourbon (which, incidentally, goes down really well with a Camel Turkish Royal), is apparently too preoccupied with another top export, marijuana, to support its more, um, legal sources of revenue.

No matter. I have already found a new outlet for my arrogance. I've lost interest in the fight against the desperately uncool. Cancer was my main ally, my weapon of choice. But cancer went all Justin Timberlake on me. Got too big for the band. Once it became the number one killer, of course the government would start to use cancer against itself. So, as long as it's on the side of the nonsmokers, I declare a war against cancer.

My three point plan is to (1) inhale, ingest, imbibe or otherwise absorb as many cancer-causing agents as possible, and then (2) not get cancer, all while (3) staying alive long enough to prove my point.

I've already started with my offensive strategy, in which I stand toes up to the line on this side of good health and taunt cancer. I just signed up for an unlimited tanning membership plan at a tanning salon, and I'm currently working out the logistics of smoking a cigarette inside of the tanning bed without violating the membership agreement. I'm also trying to smoke less in public, but more in general, so cancer knows that this is just between us. Emphysema, you stay out of this.

Though I'm pretty far along, I have to admit I'm a bit lacking in the defense. So, I guess it's a good thing I can probably soon expect clean air in bars and restaurants.


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