Cigarette-Smoking Marathon Runner Chen Bangxian Sparks Outrage In China

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Andrew Powell Contributor
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This is truly how you smoke the competition.

A Chinese amateur runner, with his gray hair and buzz cut hair style, became a sensation on the internet in November after being spotted running at a marathon — while also smoking cigarettes.

On Chinese social media, the 50-year-old Chen Bangxian instantly became known as “Smoking Big Brother.”

The photos of Chen, which show him lighting up cigarettes without holding up his stride, were seen across the world.

The race was held in Jiande City in China‘s Zhejiang province and Chen incredibly broke his own record that he set back in 2019 at the Xiamen Marathon, where he finished with a time of three hours and 32 minutes. In the latest run, his mark was three hours and 28 minutes. And he did it all with a cigarette in his mouth.

However, not everybody was happy about Chen’s performance, despite fellow runners showing him love after the race and taking pictures with him. On the Chinese internet, many blasted Chen for smoking, saying they hated cigarettes. Some even called for Chen to be banned from future marathons.

The anger even got the Chinese Athletics Association (CAA) involved, who manages the organization of Chinese marathons. They blasted Chen to the point where they published a report titled, “Proposal for Running Civilized and Healthy Marathons.”

Ahh, the cigarette. A device that writers like myself use to pump those creative juices and help stay zoned in. But for some reason, however, some people want to be a part of a nanny state that chips away at freedoms. And over the years, cigarettes have been one of those freedoms.

I remember being a kid walking into a restaurant with literally every table having an ashtray on it and the smoking section looking like they were having the time of their life. I remember being around my mother and grandmother while we were out to eat and they just looked so relaxed while smoking and in full conversation.

As we all know, though, this wonderful society of ours eventually made it illegal to smoke indoors, forcing us all to go outdoors in the 23-degree weather in the winter. (Yes, I live in Florida, but you get my point. I’m very familiar with those cold ass Pennsylvania nights.)

“Well, maybe you should quit then. Smoking is unhealthy,” some people often say.

So is the food you eat, so is the water you drink and so is the air you breathe. We live in a world where pretty much everything is unhealthy for you in some way, to some extent, and if it’s not, it’s expensive. (RELATED: Members Of Congress Propose Banning TikTok Nationwide)

Yes, cigarettes can take a toll on your health, but do we really need to act all police-like about it?