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The Manly Side Of Smoking

19 June 2008 11 Comments

James Dean

That’s right, I said it. Smoking can be manly, especially in certain situations. I’m not a smoker and I don’t endorse it, but seriously, when someone pulls it off in the right way – smoking is freaking cool.

Today, smoking is seen as self-destructive, irresponsible, offensive and anything else you can spew to emit a negative image of a person. It’s seen as a testament of who you are. Many folks will actually judge you as a bad person with low cultural evolution (at least here in the US) if you’re caught puffing on a cancer-stick.

But when we witness that bad boy or girl light one up on the big screen with a killer song rolling in the background, it makes us feel a certain way. You’re lying if you say that doesn’t fire you up – at least a little.

Let’s look at some of the underlying reasons why we feel this way.  And stop jamming out your hate mail long enough to hear me out.


Quitting is hard – Yup, it’s hard to quit and no one likes a quitter. I like the idea of people giving up smoking because of health reasons or whatever else motivates, but there is risk with even trying.  Failure is tough to swallow (almost as much as the smoke itself).  So many rationalize away the concept of even trying to quit smoking and who am I to judge?!?!

Smoking makes you feel calm and satisfied – Yup again.  Diehards will testify what smoking does for them. It calms and soothes even the greatest of discomforts.  Make it the whacky-tobacky kind and even better (from what my cousin says).  The amount of satisfaction smokers feel when sucking em down is like a warm blanket to them.  Other folks use differing vices to scratch that itch – food, exercise, hobbies, spending money, etc.

Smokers enjoy holding cigarettes – Having a prop in your hand while working your game is like whenFrank Sinatra a “healthy” person carries a bottle of water, or eating a dog at the ballpark or when a politician is lying – it may repulse some, but it feels right.

Calm stress; cure boredom; feel happy – Smoking does calm the nerves. No argument from me. I don’t smoke, but from time to time I will partake and it does all of the above.  There is no shame in getting some help to calm the nerves when things are crazy – fellas have a lot on our tiny minds and we need a release.

Drinking coffee, wine or beer – Anyone who throws down a few will tell you the experience is MUCH better with a smoke. Enough of the cigarette hating commercials that say they don’t go together – those commercials lie and any smoker will tell you so.  Throw in gambling and/or the hard stuff and it’s almost illegal in most states NOT to smoke.

Fit in with other smokers – Since most of us don’t drink alone, it’s often the case men don’t smoke alone either. Especially the case for cigar smokers – which I am. Smoking a cigar is almost the secret to life for most men.  Get together the gents and go drag on cigars and drink scotch – LOVE IT.

Looks VERY cool – What would James Dean have looked like without a cigarette? How about Sinatra or Gary Cooper? I shiver in pain to think of it.  Can you imagine these idols with a bottle of water or a granola bar in their hands?  Yeah, me too..I just threw up in my mouth over the thought.  However, don’t be afraid to admit when you can’t pull off the cool factor. No shame in not living up to the legends.

Women are attracted to the bad boy – No sense denying this. Manliness is admitting something is true when, even if you hope it isn’t.  I feel the hate comments coming, and some have already bailed on the post, but I’m right and you know it. Women want a guy that knows himself and is his own man. No better way to convey this fact than to flip the bird to the modern anti-smoking movement and spark one up exhibiting complete control over everyone else in the room.

Smokes are a conversation helper – Smoking clearly gives you additional time to formulate your ideas and communication. When a man’s mind fails intermittently (more often than you think), instead of getting bent about it or “umm”ing through your mindless moments, take a slow drag, exhaling that lovely pale blue smoke before commanding the conversation again.


Both support the cool factor, but each conveys a slightly different message. The cigarette smoker is definitely anti-establishment and completely willing to say, “f*ck the man”.  They don’t care what other people think, nor should they. They rail against the gestapo-like anti-smoking tactics infiltrating every part of our society.

The cigar smoker is more elegant and sophisticated.  Especially the guys that can afford a nice Cuban or Dominican. They can afford to say “piss off! to almost anyone and truly mean it.  They’re not as rebellious as the cigarette folks, but still willing to rail against the smoke haters when necessary.

Gary CooperIn reality, smoking isn’t as cool as people tell us it is.  But let’s observe one of Hollywood‘s most attractive heroes: The guy who may as well already be dead and doesn’t give a rip about the consequences of his actions. He’s able to glide with perfect precision and freedom for the remainder of his time on this planet.

This guy is compelling. The character smokes more often than not, or at least has some sort of lethal habit — drinking and drugs are common. The one underlying theme is the coolness towards self-destruction as a powerful glimpse into the human emotion.

Smoking sends the message we are not afraid of our own mortality. This is a strong and powerful attraction for people in an almost any age group. It is the forbidden fruit and whether we want to admit it or not, is attractive and can be manly.


  • Hot Alpha Female said:

    OK can i first say that i love this whole thing you have going on about manliness. I really think that its an under used terms these days and i really wish that more men would be more manly!

    So heres the thing about smoking and the image that it gives off. I personally have never touched the stuff … dont like the stuff and dont usually like people who smoke the stuff.

    With that said, i do understand the image that it usually portrays. You know the bad boys smoke. And they certainly like you said .. look cool when they do it =) I can see how people would see that as manly and therefore be more attracted to guys like that.

    A lot of the reason why young people smoke .. is totally just because of the kool factor anyways.

    With that said, i do agree that cigars are much more classier. If i had to choose btw the guy that smokes a cigarette and a that smokes a cigar, i would chooose the later.

    But that is purely by social conditioning. We always see the guy in power the one that has the control, the one that has seniority smoking the cigar. That equates to manliness. N manliness equates to higher levels of attraction for a chick.

    Hot Alpha Female


  • Kevin said:

    HAF, Thanks for the comment. I am with you. I hate the stuff, but I can’t deny the coolness factor of others doing it (from a distance). I do smoke cigars, but not often. Great blog of your own. I just subscribed…kevin

  • Irony said:

    It’s interesting that in a blog called “Return to Manliness” you would cover smoking with so many cigarettes (all your photos are of cigarettes).

    No word is more commonly used in the US to diminish a guy’s masculinity than “fag” which as a homophobic word rooted in the British use of the word for cigarettes. The original definition as we all know is for a bundle of sticks used for kindling, which was an easy diminutive term for a cigarette when compared to a cigar – cigarettes were effeminate. Eventually “fag” as a term, for the effeminate smoker, became a term for a gay man, the embodiment of an effeminate male. Really ironic considering your grasp is, “The guy that says “To hell with the pansy boys. I know it is bad for me – so what!”

    You know pansy is another word that came into use to describe gay men right? Really ironic that you would use a cigarette smoker, or fag smoker, to speculatively call a non-smoker a pansy.

    But I guess it makes sense you would include it regarding the fellows you name; all of the guys you name were arguably the first metrosexual, urbanized, debonair and stylish guys – men that guys like you would see as effeminate at a club.

    Doubly ironic considering your comment in Unclutterer about how “as a guy you don’t care about color choices”. Sure a color choice for a kitchen appliance isn’t exactly comparable to the obsessive and painfully detailed stylizing that every one of the smoking guys you mentioned here… oh wait, it is exactly comparable.

    Maybe pick another topic?

  • Kevin said:

    @Irony…silly little, anonymous commenter, I think you may be overcompensating for something. Thanks for reading and keep up the good work.

  • Strong One said:

    I’m currently reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”. I just read about teenage smoking, and why it’s so hard to battle.
    It mentioned that smokers aren’t cool BECAUSE they smoke, but that COOL people are smokers. It’s an interesting insight on why smoking is so popular to the teenage population. We all thought it was simply the ‘act’ of smoking was cool, but it was because the person smoking was cool, and teenagers try to become cool and emulate the cool person by immitating their actions.
    Great post and great food for thought. How is such a horrible unhealthy habit, so popular, and so hard to stop.

  • Makdaddy said:

    I like smoking cigars. In fact, my brother-in-law taught me the proper way to smoke them and i’ve enjoyed them ever since. And it allowed us to connect with a common interest (10 year age difference). I really enjoy smoking with a buddy with drink in hand. It’s a really nice calming feeling you get when you smoke when drunk 😀

    I dont like cigarettes. I’ve tried them a few times and it’s just overwhelming, like drinking straight liquor or something.

    And, lets not forget our green colored friend, whacky tabaky. That’s always nice to enhance the chill factor. Though, i despise potheads…damn hippies.
    .-= Makdaddy´s last blog ..Diplomat in flight disturbance released, won’t face charges – CNN.com =-.

  • Annikanns said:

    Men worried about their “manliness” have created most of the problems in modern society, in my opinion!
    Everyone has a masculine and a feminine side and denying either one of them is catastrophic.
    If men would just embrace who they are and not try to project some unreal ego to the world, the world would be a better, gentler place!

  • Massage therapy advertising said:

    Smoking is bad habit and it is a threat if you became addicted of it. Smoking destroys the body inner vessels also leads to lung cancer. So better if you avoid smoking.

  • gillbe said:

    i really appreciate this blog regarding smoking.although smoking is bad thing,but if we think in another way it has some benefit as discuss in this blog.
    if you smoke usually,then you watches some No Smoking Signs
    around you,where smoking is prohibited.its because of public and your safety.

  • table runners and placemats said:

    Are you telling me that smoking is good for some reason? Listen, i am a smoker and i am telling you that what you are telling is not totally true. I am trying to quit it, but i can’t.

  • Jim Rose said:

    interesting article, i think you might have something here. i don’t condone smoking, but i think it did have it’s place in history.

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