Newport Menthol

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This piece is part of a larger collection of essay writings that I will eventually include in a published book of non-fiction essays and short stories. My father died of lung cancer in 2019.

I am not a doctor. Nor am I an expert on the aftermath of smoking. But, I didn’t need to be any of them to see that smoking is bad news for families.

Newport Menthol

By Samone Arther

TWO YEARS AFTER HE DIED, I am still lost for words just as if it was only yesterday, daddy was online playing his favorite video game Gears of War.  I can still smell the stench of Newport Menthol following me around the small room containing only a loveseat, sofa, stand-alone porcelain ashtray, and a 60 inch TV.

I am not a doctor. Nor am I an expert on the aftermath of smoking. But, I didn’t need to be any of them to see that smoking is bad news for families. Smoking is also a selfish act because no one considers those who will be left behind while you’re digging your early grave. How many generation’s lives must be affected and possibly cut short until we face the hard truth?

The facts are plastered everywhere. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in America. More than 480,000 Americans meet their demise each year from smoking cigarettes.

I used to feel extreme guilt and self-blame for daddy’s habitual Newport binging days. If home is where the heart is, my home has been compromised. And if smoking shortens any life expectancy by 10 years, I have most certainly been robbed.  I open the door. And to my surprise there is an empty room. All of the love that once occupied the space is now long gone. There’s nothing but despair in the air and an empty loveseat. Next to the sunken seat cushions stations the tall metal framed porcelain ashtray that leaves behind particles of grey matter. The soot-stained walls lye hidden in each corner like lurking shadows.  What wouldn’t I have given to have those 10 additional years with him?

Sometimes pleads of children aren’t enough for some parents to stop abusing cigarettes. And in some ways, society has shifted its energy regarding life values about smoking. In the 1980’s we learned how cigarettes kill. Visual aids made it home inside our backpacks, showing our parents the significance of second hand smoke. My daddy grinned as he placed them nicely off to the side. He gathered quite the collection over time. It wasn’t before long, the pamphlets ended up as baskets landing center mass inside of the trash can. Today, quit smoking advertising are more creatively enticing. However, the most terrifying anti-smoking ads on television didn’t seem to work in my favor.

My husband smoked Newport’s on and off for many years. I guess when we met, it was off peak season. Our two younger sons Zachary and Ryan often warned “Cigarettes give you bad breath and stained teeth, DAAAD!” Quoting the captions on the television screen. I see some form of history slowly repeating itself. Although, my husband seems not too concerned about tarter. I can only pray that history doesn’t go on unchanged 20 years from now. When I am that widow, dressed in all black picking out a plot and a casket. Head buried down in hurt, guilt, and shame as our now adult children reminisce about what having a loving father was like. They will also share their pain and the things they will grow to miss about him.

The irony in it all. At what point does all of this end.


Submitted: August 13, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Samone Arther. All rights reserved.

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