My boyfriend wants me to stop smoking so I won’t die early or whatever. I do want to not smell like cigarette smoke, but I love smoking. What do I do?
Signed, Easily Addicted
Dear Easily Addicted,
Smoking, like other substance addictions, is rooted in our need to escape from the cold, empty bitterness that is reality. As such, while it is often stigmatized, substance use is ultimately justified given that there is no meaning nor any objective harm that is done to other people (especially in the case of smoking outside). Most of the time people are simply trying to defend their own coping mechanisms when they condemn those of others. If it wasn’t your boyfriend wanting you to quit, I’d advise that you light up and revel in your freedom to do so since you love smoking.
The argument that you’ll “die early or whatever” is faulty given the inherent brevity of your life. The matter that makes up your body will spend the overwhelming majority of its existence as a pile of dead cells. For the incredibly fleeting time that you’re conscientious of your cells and the pain that they are both in and that they cause, you will be inclined to mitigate the suffering through chemical means. This makes sense given that all emotions are just varying distributions of chemicals to begin with. If you want to be happy (or at least less miserable), facilitating the flow of happy chemicals is quite literally the only option regardless of how you choose to achieve that end.
Unfortunately for you, it sounds as though you are fond of your boyfriend. This is a bummer for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the fact that with fondness comes an inevitable and potentially crippling depression that will occur at the guaranteed conclusion of the relationship (either through death or breakup). However, as with any source of brief smiles, you’re justified in trying to keep it going for as long as possible. Your choice hinges on whether you think you’ll get more happiness from having a happy and less anxious boyfriend or a from having a happy and less anxious headspace.