How Come Smokers Don’t Get Cold?

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You know those guys who stand outside the office building for a smoke? How come they never wear coats?

So it was 40-degreeish here in New York City today, drifts of snow still lining the sidewalks, and the usual clutch of office workers stood outside my midtown Manhattan building puffing away. I just don’t understand this. Does nicotine numb your nerve endings and prevent you from feeling a chill?

Is it kind of the same defiant, macho instinct that urges them to flout social convention and the American Medical Association by continuing with the cancer sticks? Maybe they figure: hey, man, I’m gonna die anyway. Bring on the sniffles.

Talk about macho: my old boss used to smoke in the building. Cigars. We could smell it through the vents. That kind of rule-flouting trickles down; the cigarette smokers figured they could do it, too, if they closed their office doors. Again with the vents.

It could be worse. In Japan, workers puff away at their desks. Most offices are set up like bullpens, so there’s no escape. My poor Pop has tried to quit smoking for five decades, but the second-hand smoke from the broad at the next desk always drags him back.