U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry reports smoking may be hazardous [to your health]. U.S. report "Smoking and Health" connects smoking to lung cancer. c1964.
The Last Cigarette
Who are you, mister?
So tattered, ragged and unshaven; so alone
in this cold, deserted city of night, yet
so proud a vagabond with that last cigarette.
You hungry, mister?
Your quest never ends. Days come and squandered
in unnamed cities and spider highways where semi’s
crawled past your outstretched thumb, hiking nowhere.
The small boys secretly puffing forbidden “fags”
sly and slick, then sick, yet somehow
so much bigger, and growing
ducktails, turned-up collars, tight dungarees,
“Gee, Dad,” and a cigarette. And bigger: lipstick-tipped
filters drowned in ninety-cents-a-glass champagne,
Babydoll’s ginger ale suckered from a once-a-week juker.
Look around, mister.
City streets are strange at night, lost in the stillness
of forgetting shadowy ghosts discarded and
lost in forgotten corners of a long-gone yesterday.
See the glow, mister?
There, in the youthful, cherry-red faces on Christmas,
the night at the fair, the first date, the late nights
studying and playing cards and drinking and dancing.
Did you know, mister?
Did you know you were dying when you donned
the uniform and stood to post, “Smoke
if you got ‘em?” Did you know you were
even as the silk of her wedding gown rustled down the aisle
and you smelled the orange perfume in her hair
even as the babies came, one after the other, and there
were nights that grew still and beer that turned stale?
Are those tears, mister?
You are old and clever and callous, and hardened
by the cynical ashes of a smoldering life betrayed
by the very flames that brought you pleasure.
Another day, mister?
Another day to see the sun rise, to breathe the morning air
to run along wooded trails, to suck in the cold, damp
fog of morning dew, to become again all you have lost?
It’s a little shorter, mister.
A little shorter after each hesitant, hedonist glow passes
in a puff of smoke. Taunting, haunting, growing
and shorter still as the night descends, alone
as tears that are too dry to fall burn down your cheeks.
Cast the crumpled, singed butt to the ground. It’s only
the life of man, mister. Crush the butt beneath your heel.
--Dan Speers, A Century Half Full