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Tue., March 28, 2006, midnight

Andrew Lisa: Doom is in the air

When I was a boy, I spent all winter looking forward to Little League season.

I loved it, and not because I had some special talent for the game of baseball. In fact, I stunk. I spent most of the game picking weeds in right field, dreading my next turn at bat where I would inevitably cower outside the batter’s box while the umpire told me to get closer to the plate.

In most games I displayed the athletic prowess of Alan Colmes, leaving my humiliated parents in the stands wondering silently how much better their lives would be if I did not exist.

But I wasn’t in it for the game of baseball. I was in it for the free cigarettes.

After the game, my friends and I would rush to the concession stand to grab a pack of smokes.

They consisted of red, gummy candy that was shaped like a cigarette and wrapped in paper. They came in cigarette box-shaped containers and had powder in the end so you could blow out a little puff of smoke a few times before you unwrapped it and ate it.

They had names like “Lucky Smart” and “Pall Mell.”

My mother told me to remember it was only candy and that smoking was bad – and then she lit another Salem.

It was a glorious time, but the world is a different place now. Smokers are now ranked in the social caste system somewhere between pedophiles and people who give fruitcakes as Christmas gifts – the result of a national anti-smoking campaign led by New York and California.

Politicians in these places determined that people should be free to breathe clean air without getting cancer.

Sounds nice, right? I thought so, too, and then I read a report released by the Environmental Protection Agency this week listing the worst places to live in terms of air quality. The top two, in this order, were New York and California. In fact, there is so much smog in both places that you have nearly double the chance of getting cancer as you do in Middle America smoker havens.

But which is worse, ending current lives through cancer or not allowing new life through impotence?

The University of Southern California just reported that breathing smog leads to lower sperm count.

Fox News just reported that an Australian study reveals smoking cigarettes leads to erectile dysfunction.

So if you live in a smoke-free place, you can get cancer and impotence because of smog. If you live in smog-free place, you can give yourself and all those around you cancer and impotence by smoking.

What’s the use, people? No matter where you live or what you do, you’re going to ingest something that kills you.

But breathe easier – at least you’ll never be able to have mediocre children whose Little League games you’ll have to suffer through.

The end is near, folks. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

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