Why You Should Start Smoking

Hi there.

So, you should start smoking. The people on Mad Men do it and Jesus Chriii-ist, could everyone stop talking about Mad Men? I am so sick of hearing about Mad Men. I’ll wait while you stop. …Thank god. That was unbearable. Look, the reason you yap about Mad Men all the time is because your life is lame and unbearable. Taking up smoking will change all of that. See that woman in the picture above? She smokes. And that is why she’s cooler than you — you, you non-smoker. If she wasn’t smoking, she’d just be playing cards on a bed. Bo-oooring. But instead, she’s cool.

People in Mad Men smoke. And drink three glasses of whiskey for lunch. And then they have retro sex. I do all of these things, though I’m trying to cool it with the drinking. People romanticize the past all the f-ck out of proportion, but the past can still be our lives. Taking up smoking will help teach you this: for smoking is an attempt to master time.

Plus, if you don’t smoke, you’re a pussy. Let’s apply a little high-school-era peer pressure here. Do you want to be a pussy? Do you want people to say: “Hey, there goes that Thought Catalog reader. …Whadda pussy.” No. You do not want that.

Here’s a list of people who smoked cigarettes: …Audrey Hepburn. Humphrey Bogart. Clark Gable. Cary Grant. Mick Jagger. Kate Moss. Lauren Bacall. Lou Reed. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Keith Richards. Orson Welles. Bijou Phillips. All of the Beatles. Simone Signoret. Jack Kerouac. Andy Warhol. Hunter S. Thompson. Bette Davis. Klaus Kinski. Harrison Ford. The Ramones. Brigitte Bardot. …Okay? All of these people are only about fifteen thousand times cooler than you. So give up; give in. Start smoking.


Smoking is an attempt to master time; to incrementalize time into five minute segments. It’s also an attempt to stop time. And it’s also also an attempt to make time disappear. Smoking also makes you die, which is both sexy and awful. …But hey, I mean, have you truly considered the “death option”? First of all, there’s a strong possibility that you may be unbearable in life. Most people are. So, maybe you should die? It’s just a thought? Just think it over, maybe? I’m not saying; I’m just saying.

Also, to paraphrase Plato, it’s a little weird that we get all afraid of death — since we know nothing about death, it might turn out to be… very nice in reality. Probably not, though. …Anyway, here’s what the writer Frank Conroy said when his doctor told him to stop smoking: “Motherf-cker, I would rather die.” That’s a good line. Try using it if anyone ever tells you to quit smoking. It is highly bad-ass. He did quit smoking eventually, though. You can just try quitting when things get bad; cancer does sound unpleasant, so quit before that happens. Then, when someone offers you a cigarette, you can stare off wistfully into the distance, and say: “No; I smoked for years.” Long sigh. “…I had to give all of that up, though. I had to give that all up.” That’s also pretty sexy. Not quite as sexy as smoking, but it’s still fairly sexy.


If you don’t smoke, I can’t date you, because then dating me will be like kissing an ashtray. Although I will admit that dating me is not a particularly good reason to start smoking. Here’s a better reason, this chart right here:

…Do you want to be a cool hobo with a bindle on a stick — or do you want to be a guy with a mustache and a bow-tie, making a phone call? The hobo, right?

Yep. Obviously, you want to follow the path on the right. And then just quit when you’re 48, and you can still have the “becoming a boring old person” option available to you. In fact, this chart has just given me the precise date at which to stop smoking: when I’m 48. That gives me thirteen more years of smoking cigarettes, which is awesome. Plus, maybe I’ll get accidentally crushed by an anvil when I’m, say, 47, and then I’ll never have to quit.

If you’re not going to smoke and drink too much, then what’s the point? As far as I could tell, growing up, that was the entire point of being an adult. …Listen, I dated a girl who disapproved me of once; which was fun. Dating someone who thinks you are “bad” (and I am not) is an easy, viable way of temporarily feeling bad-ass. Anyway, I came back from some drunken adventure which involved a pleasant tale of blacking out, and the girl, whose name was Kat, was like: “Oh, Oli-vah,” when I told her of my exploits. In a disappointed way. She had a cute Singaporean accent like that, which sort of sounds like an English accent by way of South Africa by way of something else. “…Oli-vah.” Anyway. What was the point of this story? Anyway, and she was so disappointed when I would come home with my drunken stories or anecdotes of poverty and foolishness, and so, one day, I got frustrated and was like: “So? What would we even talk about if I didn’t come home with these stories? What, would you rather we just both went to our sensible jobs and ate a sensible meal and then went shopping at the Gap?”

And she said: “…Yah! That would be great.” She didn’t smoke, by the way. Too risky.

And so that’s why you should start smoking. You should start smoking so that your life won’t be like that. So that you won’t be an adult like that.

Because we’re all gonna die anyway, so f-ck it:

Your ugly tokyn
My mynd hath brokyn
From worldly lust;
For I haue dyscust
We ar but dust,
And dy we must.
It is generall
To be mortall:
I haue well espyde
No man may hym hyde
From Deth holow eyed…

We are but dust. Just like cigarettes, right? In the end we all turn into ashes. Ashes and dust.


In college, I smoked Lucky Strikes, just because they were so cool. I wish I still smoked them, but they were unfiltered (yes, like in Mad Men), and I was like, “Even I don’t want to kill myself this quickly.” …So I switched to Marlboro Reds instead. But I wish I still smoked unfiltered cigs because they were such a perfect metaphor. They don’t leave any unsightly filters behind; if you let them burn all the way down, they just… disappear.

Smoking is a way to control time. I had a terrible time knowing what to do with… time before I started smoking. I had a terrible time with slouching. I had a terrible time with knowing what to do with my hands. Cigarettes fixed all that. If we think of time as happening in five-minute increments, then it’s far more manageable. And cigarettes give me something to do — for five minutes at a time. Plus there’s all the f-cking around with your Zippo, tamping down packs, flicking ashes, fidgeting with ashtrays…

I’m sorry that I betrayed my young-person roots, and started smoking filtered cigarettes. I have failed! And become less bad-ass, though only in my head, since no outside observer ever thought that I was bad-ass to begin with. …But the best part about Lucky Strike cigarettes, like I said, was if you smoked them all the way down, and then left them smoldering in an ashtray, then they turned into pure ash. And then the wind or a human hand or something would sweep them away.

The best thing about real cigarettes is that they vanish.

Just like we do. TC mark

Thumbnail image – Tomasz Sienicki


More From Thought Catalog

  • Anonymous

    Yeaaaya! First

    • http://twitter.com/rachelllane rachelllane


      • Anonymous

        Are you one of those people that utter “lame” out IRL after someone says something? IF so, you’re comment isn’t much better than mine in terms of [actual lameness]

      • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    I will stop talking about Mad Men the day it stops being the best fucking thing in the whole world ever.

    • Oliver Miller

      It’s a good show, true…  Although the last one I saw was the Don buying a new car/going on a picnic one, which must be years old now?  I think the editors are trying to start a feud by placing our articles side by side, though.

      • Tom

        Did you find they were making some sort of statement when they left all their garbage after the picnic? And how cool was that car?? You should totes write an article on that Mr. Miller. MAD MEN MAD MEN MAD MEN

  • Anonymous

    Also f Scott fitz alone is a reason to buy a pack <333

  • http://twitter.com/mrwildflowers Jesse S.

    As a smoker, I read this as a perfectly legitimate reason to keep at it. I mean, really, who wants to be a venerable old man?

    • alexa

      aaay-men. :)

  • http://www.icyhighs.com/ icyhighs

    that bit about controlling time is totally true. try quitting for a while and you realize you just don’t know what to do with your hands anymore. 

  • Anonymous

    This gave me a ton of reasons to continue to not smoke.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alex-Gunning/100002194438535 Alex Gunning

      Yesyes, same here. All the delusions of the virtues of cigarettes are in this article… Therefore whoever wrote this is, well, fucking deluded   :D

      God I remember thinking just like this, it’s so nice to be free of that fucking weed, no longer a slave.

  • Anonymous

    I find it highly amusing that Oliver mentioned Singapore. idk, cheap thrills for me cos I live there and all. pfft. i dont even know why i give a fuck

    • Oliver Miller

      I always was amused that the capital of Singapore was… Singapore, because it’s so tiny, which I learned by dating that girl.  I don’t know why that amused me either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Timberman/922794 Steven Timberman

    I smoke because I need an excuse to leave a club and join people on the smoking patio.

     I could dress that statement up, but I’m fairly sure 90% of the people out there do the same thing.

    • Oliver Miller

      It definitely gives you an excuse to go outside and get the fuck away from people; I never even thought about that, so, yes, sweet.

      • Chou yan

        I live in China and being able to smoke indoors here kind of sucks. You smell worse. Everything smells worse. And you smoke a lot more. Whenever I’m talking to someone I can’t stand, I can’t “excuse myself” to go outside and smoke a cigarette. So I end up chain smoking in front of them to at least have some small comfort.

    • Anonymous

      but you don’t need to smoke to do that. I say I need to go get a cigarette all the time, but I don’t actually go outside and smoke. I just leave.

  • Que?

    I cannot tell if this is supposed to be sarcastic….

    • Oliver Miller

      It’s not.

    • Anonymous

      The thing is I feel it works more on that level. As someone mentioned above, it gives me more reasons to stay away from cigs. Although the writer’s intention may not have been that…

  • dip

    As an ex smoker, all I can see in the countless TC articles that intellectualize why people smoke I find it funny none of them suspect it’s simply a highly addictive drug. 

    • Oliver Miller

      Yes, no one has ever pointed that out before.  Thank you for opening my eyes.

  • A Beaver

    Really?  Not ONE ‘Masque of the Red Death’ mention?  I mean really, this is essentially a nonfiction version.

    • Oliver Miller


    • John

       Uh, not really, at all.

  • Guest


  • Determined Hera

    I had to give all that up.

  • http://imlikecocaine.wordpress.com/ Ana

    Oh oh, I’m the perfect stereotype of a messed up bohemian pseudo-artist who smokes. Plus, it looks smashing in pictures. I’m only photogenic with my cigarette in my hand.

  • Pinion

    Did a 35-year old  man really write this? 

    • danielle

      i know it astounds me too/

  • BD

    I’ve always wanted to smoke. Then everyone tells me not to. Oh well, fuck them. They don’t understand my pain.

  • http://twitter.com/SystolicArray I'm wonderstruck

    Every time I try to smoke I become dizzy and nauseous :(

    • H-MAY

      Yeah, same. Sometimes I’ll even think to myself “Wouldn’t this activity be SO MUCH BETTER with a cigarette in my hand?” but then I remember that cigarettes make me feel physically ill, not buzzed. -_-

      • Eunicecheng1231

        it’s like wearing a pair of new glasses for the first time, you get used to it. 

      • Oliver Miller

        Yeah, you really have to commit and power through the nauseous first week.

  • http://www.facebook.com/black.moon.ghost.girl Moon Temple

    brb cig

  • Mike

    Clearly you have never watched someone die of lung cancer far too young. 

  • Jackblacok

    Wow my thoughts exactly! I always get disappointed when one of my friends caves into society and quits smoking.  

  • Joshrom

    “Suicide is free.  Don’t waste money on cigarettes.” — Josh Romero

  • http://twitter.com/DoobMartingale Douglas Martin

    Yeah, well Dick Cheney smoked cigarettes, too.

    Lots of ’em.

    And he’s one of the baddest of the bad-ass dudes in government.

    And he has no heart. 

  • http://twitter.com/DoobMartingale Douglas Martin

    And by the fuckin’ way, the last time I heard the name “Oli-vah”, it was on TV. Zsa Zsa’s wacky sister Eva was saying it in a TV show called “Green Acres”.

    You know, Green muthafukkin’ Acres.

    The chores. The stores. Fresh air. Times Square. 

    See that, I wrote the word “fuck” three times, all in different tenses. So I don’t need to smoke any fucking “ciggies” to be a bad-ass muthafuckah.

    Five, baby — five. And I take my existential fuckin’ pain *straight*.


    • Oliver Miller

      “Farm livin’s for you and for me.”  Love the theme song, so-so on the actual “Green Acres” show itself.

  • MAYH

    It’s not just because I’m gonna die, that I will live suffering bad things that I can avoid.

  • Anlon

    Sometimes I’ll sit at my desk at work and tap a pen into an imaginary ashtray. I don’t smoke, but it feels satisfying in a weird sort of way. 

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