The Confession of a Smoker
Would you believe in anyone who told you something that they don’t really know? If you ask me, there’s a huge percentage that I wouldn’t. One day a friend came in to my room while I was pumping tar in to my lunge, and as any other good natured, well intended person, she told me that I should quit smoking. When I asked her about the reason, she paused for a moment and then elaborated some standard reasoning that I would have heard from about any other person, some of it written on the package… alright to put it simply: you’l die sooner than you should, and you would have it terribly.
But who cares? The number of smokers doubled each day as new born babies being pulled out from the heavenly womb. Hail to the factories, you won’t have to create the market, just brew something acceptably tasted, have a huge advertisement budget, and voila! All you have to do is sit back, watch the cashflow… well, flowing in days, and months, and years, in decades, and we’ll have ourselves a new empire. Okay, it might not as simple as that, for those of you who are in the industry, you can tell me more of it.
But on the edge of all those income are the consumers, people like me who, once, spent two packs of cigarettes each day, and we have to cope with all the promises of consequencies. The word “once” doesn’t mean that I have stopped smoking entirely, it means that I don’t smoke two packs of cigarettes per day anymore, these days I’d take less than two, well… more if the day is a day when I should keep my head from being banged on to the wall… by myself.
So, here’s the confession, and you are having it from a smoker: smoking is painful. Of course, when you hang out with fellow smoke blowers, one take of the air could be seen as one take on heaven’s bliss. As you might have known, the bliss would include around 4000 chemicals, some of which are highly toxic, and toxins would take its toll. When you hang out with fellow smokers, you see bliss, when you live with fellow smokers you’ll see heaving chests, you’ll hear the complains, and share the pain.
When you lie down side by side, telling one another about one of those days when you feel like you’re out of breath, sweating and shaking, one would think that it’s a pretty sight. Well it is, especially when both side talk about quitting, really mean it, and then forget about the whole idea right after dinner.
There are many methods of quitting smoking, you name it. NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) where you would have nicotine patches pasted on your skin, nicotine nasal spray, nicotine inhaler, even bubble gums. A combination of anti depressants and councelling is also available, in certain countries that is, where people already have a deeper insight about solving their health problems. Furthermore, this is the age of information, and there are easiliy accessible informations about quitting smoking provided on all kind of media, the supplement to all the words of wisdom that your spouse and doctor would throw at you. Although they might speak the truth, but they seems to lack the credibility of someone possessing the truth. Hard to imagine your clean cut, sterilized doctor would share the same perspective on the burden of joyful sin. As you are leaving the practice, you would say “what does he knows?” And those ways should fail.
Devine shock theraphy (that is: death) would have an instant effect, but everything instant is instant. When you hear about a relative being admitted to the hospital and the devastating news of lung cancer reached everyone’s ear, you would be dumbfounded, 10 minutes at the most, then these words would have flashed through your mind “he’s just being unlucky.” And you will spend the minutes of your after lunch talking about the guy’s misfortune while inhaling and exhaling fresh smoke from fresh cigarettes.
Then one day, a well intended friend would come to ask you the same question, again, “why don’t you quit smoking?” and you would say “I want to, once in a while, but I can’t, I tried many ways, but I failed”. Even when death is creeping in around the last corner, human, ever resourceful, would try to deviate, and when they fail, they would ask “why me?”
When you think of it, smoking is a preventable cause of death, whether it’s of toxin or the huge accumulative amount of money that went to smoke instead of nutrition. So why is it so hard to be separated from it? Here’s some contemporary reasoning from a smoker, and you’d be better off believing it.
First of all, there are this surrounding factors. The situation, condition, the people, the community around you who contributed to your conception of smoking, and to your admission as a smoker. There’s this constant battle still going on right now, and the winner will be determined by the marketing strategies applied. Most events in developing countries are sponsored by cigarette producing companies, even huge sport events, that would only have the contradictive relationship to the virtue of smoking. Kids watched these events, and they laughed when a teacher scold them as she found them skipping classes, crammed at one far flunged corner of the schoolyard, and had a foursome intercourse with a single cigarette. They were taken to the office where they would be punished as they watched assorted packs of cigarettes on the tables of the teachers – fellow smokers.
As you caught yourself as a smoker, it would become an interpersonal issue. Presently, in some places across the world smokers are limited to certain confined spaces of their own, whether by written law or by ethic. In certain social gatherings it should be impossible to smoke at all. But certain kind of people would find their own certain kind of group. Smokers will join smokers, and when you smoke among fellows, the subjective truth can turn to objectivity. You would have all the reasons to continue smoking as the night flies, packs after packs, and you would feel utterly stupid if you don’t smoke, because all of you would realize that there’s an alien in the group, and sometimes it’s just because you don’t know what to do with your fingers and your lips, and you become too concerned of it to even make any kind of contribution to the conversation.
There’s also the muse effect, and it’s quite popular. Ever seen a movie where the character would slip a cigarette between fingers while doing something that can be classified as a creative process? Whether it’s about a writer pondering in front of his typewriter, a detective reconsidering the evidence so far, or a painter, with the passive hand in front of his lips and the active hand jugling fantasies on canvas. Smokers would argue that smoking can increase their ability to think, to process information inside their mind and to produce anything. And being deprived of cigarette could hamper the process or even halt it entirely. Chemicals aside, I would say that this is more like an urban myth. The truth can be created and accepted as more people join the club. There are a lot of creative people who don’t smoke, but of course coping with their own issues. I know someone who would stand upside down on two hands with the believe that the more blood runs toward the head, the better it will function. Although I realize it is more to do with oxygen, but I accept the fact that everyone have their own eccentricity, so I just leave him be, as long as he stays away from my cigarettes.
Some people also consider smoking as an escapeway from stress. When problems mounted you will need a kind of release method. I assume that this inhaling and exhaling process that brings the concept together. But as the harm being done, smoking will bring accumulative headaches in time. With money to spent and illness to anticipate, it’s just not going to get any better.
Many people have seen smoking as a kind of lifestyle, this can be traced back to 1600s when it became a part of European culture, until 1940’s before anybody found out of its hazardous effects. I say that you can sell rotten meat if you know the way and have the stomach to do it, so even as the poisons were revealed, as long as you have the fund to play with the information and do counter campaigns, you’ll rake money. Talk about campaign and advertisement, you can even sell religion these days, so creating a notion of lifestyle is a no-brainer’s job, albeit still a brilliant one. In the end, as the consumers drag their feet from the chaotic stream and look in to themselves, they’ll find no style, only regrets.
Regrets would signify the lowest point of a smokers life. Regrets in a certain point of our life, gradually appeared and gradually intensified as the bad things gradually turn to worse and our healthy mind nullified. Sometimes I imagine myself reaching early forties, upon accepting the result of my medical check up, silently drop the cigarette from my fingers, and stood for minutes thinking about my life and my responsibility. Should I have a wife, what would I tell her? Should I tell her that I was sorry for this lung cancer and some other complications inside of me, and that cigarette is the greatest contribution to my situation? And how will I count the expenses for my children compare to my willingness and the need to stay alive? Regret is the bane of anyone’s life, but when it is on a prefectly avoidable cause like smoking, it will multiply.
So quit. No, it is not entirely about the method, it’s not about the planning, it’s not about that dubious software on your mobile phone that track your development and warn you about your quota. It’s about you, your determination and your capacity. A friend of mine, he was a heavy smoker, was playing a video game with a pack full of cigarettes in front of him. Suddenly, as the game finished he told me that he want to quit smoking, got up, left his cigarette pack behind, and pulled not a single stick eversince. We had lived together in a rented house so I knew how he had progressed, I even acted as the devil sometimes seduced him to smoke, to no avail.
Some other people tried a less sudden approach. Reducing the amount of cigarette consumed gradually each day, weeks, months, and eventually try to stop altogether. I tried this one, and failed. I had this preconception that each day I managed to reduce a single stick, I was elligible to reward myself in the evening. The thing is, I don’t do so well on math, so the reward went bigger than the result. Nevertheless, quitting smoking is still one of my primary concerns. There were days when I feel totally hard to breathe and failed to function effectively, those were the days where I vowed to quit. Remembering days such as these would help me to judge my own predicament and see what kind of man I have become, and the result is not so good.
No matter how hard you try to convince yourself of your own power, a little friendly nudge and support would make a difference. At least you have someone who sees the devil from certain perspective and determined how many blocks separated you from your doom. So when your doctor or someone close to you said something about you quitting smoking, there’s a good chance that they know what they are doing. Trust me I’m a smoker.