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Exposure Surpasses Cancer as Leading Killer Among Smokers
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ROCHESTER, New York - Doctors are reporting dramatically increased numbers of cases of exposure, frostbite, and other weather-related health issues among the smoking population. "Patients tell me that they know it's cold, they know they shouldn't be out in it, but they just have to have a puff," said Dr. Lyle Wallen, clearly exasperated, "Then they wind up here in our wards. We've lost twenty-three of them this week, one had a cigarette butt frozen to his lips when he was admitted. It's just ridiculous."

"The homeless guys look at us like we're all nuts."
-- Smoker hospitalized for exposure
"I know I shouldn't do it. I smoke at home, in my car, it's all good," explained one patient who refused to give her name, "But those eight hours at work are just unbearable. And there's no place else to go, you gotta go outside. The homeless guys look at us like we're all nuts and I can tell you, that's not a self-affirming experience!" Current laws in many states do not allow smoking in public buildings, which has led to company-sponsored indoor smoking areas being closed off. "We used to have a nice smoking lounge, and it didn't hurt nobody. Non-smokers stayed out," said Tyler McLow, "But that's gone. It's stupid, and it ain't fair. And I guess it ain't even safe."

Some companies are attempting to address the issue. "We provide every means for our smoking associates to do so safely," said Quincy Bates, apparently missing the irony. Bates is the Director of Human Resources for IntaWorld Communications. "We are not allowed by law to have an indoor smoking area, but we've allowed our associates to erect a tent behind our facilities where they can smoke out of the wind. I understand if a few of them go out together, it can actually get quite toasty."

For some, the call of the addiction is not strong enough to warrant the trek out into the cold. This has led to an overall increase in productivity through the winter. "I can see no other explanation for it," said one manager of a small manufacturing firm, "Our guys are getting more done because they're not taking as many breaks. We've had a few more accidents that we're used to, and a few fistfights have broken out. That's new for us. But bottom line output is definitely higher. I could do with more months like this!"

Doctors from hospitals around the state agree that with the cold weather and high winds, smokers now find themselves at a higher and certainly more immediate risk from exposure than from the litany of other health problems they've come to expect. "Just another log on the fire," said one smoker, "I'll add it to the list."
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