Questions About Portland Smokers

Earlier this morning I was on line at a convenience mart off Burnside and Vista for some coffee and a couple of newspapers.

All four customers ahead of me exhibited withdrawal symptoms as they approached the counter.

“A pack of…”

Then yesterday when I was driving around my high-rise construction-addled neighborhood I noticed that just about all of the dozen or so construction workers I saw on their lunch break were smoking as well.

From my casual, arguably overgeneralized observations, it is easy to conclude that Portland smokers are more likely to be:

Blue-collar rather than white-collar;

Alienated slackers without the brains or drive to be activist progressives;

Preferential to score their stuff at convenience marts rather than fresh markets where we educated, intown (mea culpa here) snobs go for our cilantro and fancy cherry tomatoes and crablegs? I mean, I seldom see smokers outside Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

Are my observations just an additional confirmation that no matter where you live, cigarette smoking correlates with economic status, occupation and education- or is there something uniquely “Portland” about said observations?

20 Comments so far

  1. Ohh Please (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 11:20 am

    I smoke, shop at New Seasons/Trader Joes, eat well, and exercise. I also work in white collar. I may not be ‘educated’ but will whoop your ass in a game of trivia. I’m also what you might consider an activist with a union, frequently volunteer, attend city government functions..etc – I choose not to smoke in front of New Seasons becuase I feel violent rage at the old yuppie who walk by and give a half hearted, loud, fake cough. Seriously makes me want to strangle.

    What is the point of this post anyway?


  2. RAH (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 11:29 am

    Wow – I second the last sentence of the previous post.

    There are so many fallacies, so many assumptions and so many ways to critique your post that I can’t even begin to think of how to start.

    In deference to my blood pressure, I think I’ll just go out and take a walk and pretend your post doesn’t exist.


  3. Brewcaster (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 11:31 am

    I am moving to the NW from Oklahoma in a few weeks. I smoke now, and probably will when I get there. I will be living near Trader Joes, so I will do my best to smoke in front of it while wearing nice clothes and checking email on my blackberry.

    If we all quit smoking, the terrorists win.


  4. ElGordo (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 11:46 am

    Come on, Russ, this post is pointless, inflammatory, patronizing, and just plain ignorant.

    That said, how about a discussion about the ridiculous level of cognitive dissonance required to be a smoker in this day and age?


  5. Joshua (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 11:46 am

    This post comes off as pretty impressively ignorant. A majority of the smokers I know have high iq’s, work decent career jobs, and shop organic. What mound of sand do you have your head stuck in?


  6. fakey (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 1:42 pm

    Yeah, I’m an ex-smoker, and now detest cigarettes for their pure vile evilness. But even with that I have to say this is one of the more patronizing and retarded posts I have seen on this blog (and I have seen quite a few).

    However, for those of you who DO choose to smoke I would prefer that you not do it in ANY entryway or outside ANY store, especially if children are present. In fact, I would prefer that you go smoke somewhere in the middle of traffic, preferably I-5. One more smoker out of the gene pool.


  7. JG (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 2:03 pm

    Joshua – They can’t have THAT high of an IQ…as they are smokers. I think that it is unbelievable (and very funny) that some shop organic, exercise to be healthy, and yet still smoke and thus essentially poison themselves.


  8. b!X (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 2:15 pm

    I really don’t think IQ scores correlate in any way to being dumb enough to smoke, but I’ll refrain from digging up my IQ test results to prove the point.


  9. JG (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 2:26 pm

    I was being somewhat facetious…though I do believe there is some kind of lack of basic intelligence/lack of willpower that is required for people to smoke.


  10. Stan (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 2:49 pm

    Obviously more blue collar people smoke than do white collar people, and studies show that smoking rates decline as one’s education rises. Intelligent and educated people smoke much less than people who are not as intelligent and educated. Don’t blame me — look it up.


  11. VR (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 2:58 pm

    I find it interesting that most of the people complaining about this post seem to be smokers.

    However, I believe the post presents a legitimate observation and question:

    “Are my observations just an additional confirmation that no matter where you live, cigarette smoking correlates with economic status, occupation and education- or is there something uniquely “Portland” about said observations?”

    The answer is:

    “Smoking is directly correlated with income level and years of education.”
    -Tobacco and Socioeconomic Status
    http://tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0260.pdf

    Googling a bit finds lots and lots of studies in locations all over the world which conclude the same thing.


  12. Kevin (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 3:10 pm

    Um…I know plenty of “blue-collar” people who are both educated and make a damn fine living, and I also know “activist progressives” who possess neither brain nor drive.

    Smoking aside: what do so many people this town have against “blue-collar” folks?


  13. divebarwife (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 3:36 pm

    VR – only 3 of the 9 comments prior to you stated or implied that they are smokers – yet 7 of the 9 ‘complain’ about it. How is that most?

    I think what pissed people off here were the rude – although admittedly “arguably overgeneralized observations” that Russ made.

    My thought is that if someone is going to rant against a group of people (and believe me – I’ve done it!) it comes across better if it seems to have either a sense of humor about it or is ranting against a bad behavior rather than a category of people defined by their intelligence or economic status.

    I think that’s where this post offended people – it seems to be less about smoking and more about ‘dumb poor people.’


  14. Julian (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 5:21 pm

    If people who smoke are dumb, you must have been smoking while writing this crap.


  15. hand (unregistered) on June 13th, 2007 @ 1:51 am

    what a bullshit observation. I don’t suppose your generalization, made in your quaint little corner of portland even considered that there is a whole world outside of your all encompassing observations, which directly disagree. try living in europe for a little while…or grow up before pretending to be insightful.


  16. hans (unregistered) on June 13th, 2007 @ 1:51 am

    what a bullshit observation. I don’t suppose your generalization, made in your quaint little corner of portland even considered that there is a whole world outside of your all encompassing observations, which directly disagree. try living in europe for a little while…or grow up before pretending to be insightful.


  17. Miz J (unregistered) on June 13th, 2007 @ 11:26 am

    Funny thing, Russ – I used to think that when I lived on the East Coast. Now that I live here, I was under the impression that ALL Portlanders smoke except my very small circle of family & friends. At least, that’s what I think when I go out in public.

    Anyone know where I can get a good gas mask that won’t muss my hair?


  18. martin (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 7:09 pm

    Just noticed that my original comment was deleted, so I’ll just be blunt instead of hiding behind sarcasm: As “arguably overgeneralized” as your observations about smokers may be, you come off as intolerant, ignorant, and insulting. I feel that–as a smoker–you owe me an apology.


  19. Betsy (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 8:47 pm

    Martin – your comment shouldn’t have been deleted; I’ll go in right now and see what’s going on.

    Just to make it clear – we have a practice here of NOT deleting comments unless there’s serious provocation (possible legal issue, copyright violations, and the like.)

    We may choose to edit a comment to remove the legal issue – but we’ll clearly state that in the comment itself and do what we can to engage the commenter.

    – Betsy, MB co-captain (who really needs a hazmat suit, asbestos underwear, and a stiff drink…)


  20. Rusty (unregistered) on June 15th, 2007 @ 11:22 am

    “If we all quit smoking, the terrorists win.”

    Hilarious.



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