App That Converts Air Pollution Into Cigarettes

App That Converts Air Pollution Into Cigarettes

This Lifehacker post is from 2018 so perhaps y’all are already aware, but my partner just alerted me to the existence of an app entitled “Sh**t! I Smoke.”

Thought it was especially relevant to share here in the Bay Area given the current climate (literally), and even moreso considering

  1. the number of participants in the Stigma study who framed the harmfulness of cigarette smoking within the context of larger, structural health threats re: environmental pollution (most often in a “so smoking doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things” sort of way, in terms of their own health and in response to concerns/accusations that smoking is a particularly harmful and/or major source of environmental pollution)

  2. compounded concerns about population-level and individual respiratory health amid fires + COVID

  3. will be very interesting to see how the theme mentioned in point 1 shows up in our current study on Tobacco Harm Reduction given point 2!

Everything about this app is rhetorically FASCINATING.

The app icon is the shape of a poop emoji made out of a cigarette.

Cigarette twisted into the shape of a poop emoji

Everyone is a smoker within the language of this app…

Screen capture from app, point location in Oakland, CA, says "OMG! You smoke 9.3 cigarettes daily"Screen capture from app, point location in Oakland, CA, says "Dang! You smoke 64.9 cigarettes weekly"

… and it’s obvious that that is BAD.

Screen capture from app, reads "Loading... Cough... Cough"

But at the same time the positioning of personal responsibility, victimhood, innocence, and contagion are structured totally differently.

Screen capture from app says "The app was inspired by Berkeley Earth's findings about the equivalence between air pollution and cigarette smoking. The rule of thumb is... one cigarette per day is the rough equivalent of a PM2.5 level of 22"

Neat, wow, yikes, enjoy!

(All images via the Sh**t! I Smoke app)

Smoking in the wrong bathroom

Smoking in the wrong bathroom

Restroom gender and no-smoking signs

How wrong is the wrong bathroom?
(Image CC BY-SA Critical Public Health Research Center)

Max told me a lot about smoking. And gender. And freedom.

I wanted to talk with this participant all day, but Max is in a band and had to leave to get ready for a gig.

I felt connected to Max in a way I can’t make sense of with words, plus the politics of trying to name that connection are complicated, and even more so by the professional/official context of our conversation. Max expressed experiences that are intimate to my heart and have become foundational to my identity and sense of the world – yet we use different names to describe them. I wanted to share my own experiences and ask what Max thought the difference was, but those are my personal interests and biases that I’m supposed to keep out of the interview: it’s about the participant, not about me. We both got emotional during the interview – sometimes for different reasons, sometimes the same.

At one point though, Max seamlessly boiled down so many of the things we’d been talking about into a rhetorical question that made me laugh louder than I normally would in an interview. The phrase was so relevant I didn’t even realize how truly apt it was to our study on stigma and tobacco control in LGBTQ+ communities until afterwards.

Max said, “Are you smoking in the right bathroom?”

To me, as a trans man and as a smoker, this question consolidates a constellation of others, many of which are accusatory rather than inquisitive.

“Are you in the right bathroom?”
You’re in the wrong bathroom.

“Are you supposed to be in here?”
You don’t belong here. You don’t look right.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”
You aren’t good enough at either; you have failed to give me necessary information about your humanity.
Also, what’s in your pants?
What kind of genitals do you have?
Do you have a penis? Do you have a vagina?
You don’t have a penis.
You don’t have a vagina.
You’re not a real woman/you’re not really a woman.
You’re not a real man/you’re not really a man

“Are you smoking?”
You shouldn’t be smoking. Are you stupid? Do you want to die?
Do you want to kill me?
Are you just rude and careless?

“Are you smoking inside?”
Are you insane? Reckless?
That’s illegal, you’re a criminal, and a menace.
And an idiot jerk.

Are you smoking in the bathroom?
You’d better not be.

Are you in the wrong bathroom?
You’d better not be.

Some of this constellation of questions and accusations is also internal. Am I in the right bathroom? Which is the right bathroom? How wrong is the wrong bathroom? Am I allowed to be here? What’s wrong with me? I don’t feel like I belong here. Am I safe here? What should I do? I don’t know what to do. I should probably just hold it. Should I just go have a cigarette? I could use a cigarette.

When is it okay to police other people? Their bodies? When does your health come before theirs? How do I explain the similarities of this kind of policing – of genders, of bodies, of behavior, of smoking, of the morality of health – without equating them?

These aren’t all the questions. Not all of these questions are always asked, or even relevant. Most of them never get answered. Sometimes when they are I wish they hadn’t been.

I am very grateful for the honesty, earnestness, depth and complexity that Max brought to our interview. I won’t soon forget it.