Why Smoke? Listeners Tell Us Their Stories

People smoke for all sorts of reasons. We took to Facebook to ask people who smoke why they do it despite knowing the hazards.

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We took to Facebook to ask people who smoke why they do, despite knowing what we do about the hazards. Jon Vlaskamp, of Seattle, says smoking helped him through a crisis.

JON VLASKAMP: When I was 16, I was essentially forced out of town for being gay. And having come out and after all that emotional trauma, smoking really became an emotional crutch for me.

SIMON: We heard from many people who said they smoke to clear their minds. Bob Sundwick of Toledo, Ohio, said he started smoking when he was a fraternity pledge in college.

BOB SUNDWICK: Now in my work life, a lot of times I'll take a smoke break after a meeting or a phone call, to get my thoughts together before I write a nasty email just to get the phrasing right,so it doesn't come off bad.

SIMON: Loretta Owens of Harrison, Ark., told us she started smoking as a teenager, when her father offered to buy her a pack of cigarettes. She quit when she became a parent, but it didn't last. Four years later...

LORETTA OWENS: I decided to start smoking again when I lost my brother in a car accident. It made me think that I could die any day and that if I wanted to smoke, I should smoke.

SIMON: Melanie Loucks, of Tulsa, is 37 and has already suffered some effects from smoking, including pulmonary embolisms and deep vein thrombosis. She's tried to quit many times, knowing that another blood clot could kill her.

MELANIE LOUCKS: It feels like I'm a ticking time bomb. And many people, I'm sure, who may hear this will have absolutely zero sympathy. And I understand that; I understand that completely.

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