But many youths who partake in social smoking don’t consider themselves actual smokers. In fact, they see smoking a cigarette akin to indulging in dessert or a cocktail.
“Young people are smoking again,” says 28-year-old Ludovica Capobianco, an art curator from Chinatown who formerly lived in Milan. “I think a cigarette is like a glass of wine. Of course, if you drink 10 glasses of wine per day you’re gonna ruin your liver. But if you have one or two glasses every now and then, that’s fine,” she says, adding that prescription drugs can be “way worse” for your health than the occasional cig.
Thirty-two-year-old Ashley Arenson, who splits her time between Bushwick and Berlin and was spending the weekend at the Hestia house, has a similar take. “People put a lot of things in their bodies that are very bad for them,” the meditation practitioner who works in the art world says. “I choose to smoke cigarettes. I know it’s still a cigarette — I don’t drink a lot. I think that balances it out. When people say, ‘You shouldn’t smoke so much,’ I’m like, ‘You shouldn’t drink so much — it’s really bad for you.’ Or, ‘Don’t eat so much processed wheat.’”