Years ago, everyone smoked because it was the right thing to do. If you wanted to be cool, you smoked. If you wanted to get a quick high, you smoked. If you wanted to rebel, you smoked and, if you needed something to do with your spare hand, smoke, smoke, smoke. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how it is viewed, whenever Aunty dragged on a cigarette, it made me feel dizzy. Being already quite dizzy, or ditzy, smoking made me worse. I was always very uncool and smoking did not improve this. Posing with the cigarette, I would hold it upside down then burn my mouth with the lit end. There is nothing cool about screaming out in pain and having crispy lips. I was a lousy smoker. My then husband didn’t smoke so it was an easy decision to stop smoking before I really got started.
Then society began to put rules around smoking. My grandmother was furious that she could no longer enjoy a cigarette on the plane with her glass of whiskey. People were forced to smoke outside buildings. Non-smokers now got less breaks than their smoking colleagues who took ten minutes outside every hour to get their fix.
Cigarette packets came out with those amazing pictures of gangrenous toes and green, putrid teeth. I remember chatting to one of our workers as he reached for yet another cigarette. I asked him, “How can you smoke those seeing those dreadful images?” He replied that he only smoked the ones bearing the message, ‘Smoking can harm your unborn child’ as he figured those wouldn’t affect him much. He wasn’t planning to get pregnant anytime soon.
My number one son, then aged thirteen, came home from school excitedly telling me that some kids had been caught smoking behind the bike sheds and had been suspended. I asked him whether he wanted to try a few puffs. I told him never to feel that he had to sneak around or pay for cigarettes because I would buy them for him. He could then sit and smoke them with me while I lectured about what was happening to his body. He declined my kind offer. Mummy offering to buy him a packet of smokes and sit with him in the open, apparently took all the coolness away. As far as I know, he has never smoked.
A few years after that, number two son came home saying, “Hey mum, a kid got caught smoking one of those cancer sticks today”. The school had done a very good job educating those children and, as far as I am aware, no. 2 son has never smoked either.
I once did some work at a local cigarette manufacturer. The business was amazing. The workers were like one big, happy family and Management treated their staff extremely well. They had pulled together as one, most probably because much of society detested the business. A well-respected colleague of mine asked how I could live with the decision to provide safety advice to that business. The answer was easy. If my advice saved one worker from being hurt, then my work was justified. I did feel somewhat conflicted though when the same company asked for advice regarding quality and manufacturing controls. For example, if the tobacco should contain say, 2% toxic chemicals and only has 1.9%, then what is the best way to increase the amount of poison? I was saved from making the decision about working for them as the site closed down due to increasing costs and falling sales.
The next few paragraphs contain only my opinion and if you do not want to read this, please skip it. I am going outline all the reasons to never starting smoking or to give it up. If you want to do something really great for your body, read on, otherwise feel free to skip down.
Smoking is really expensive. When I was trying woefully to master the habit, a packet cost about five dollars. Now, Australia is one of the most expensive places in the world to get a fix. Currently, a pack of twenty-five Rothmans will set you back around thirty dollars. That is one dollar for each smoke. If you burn one pack per day, you will inhale over $10,000 in a year. We would all love to receive a $10,000 windfall. If you are currently burning up that amount of money, give some thought to what you would do if you were given all that cash at year end as a lump sum.
Secondly, smoking is a very smelly habit. Before the whole, ‘you can’t smoke inside’ thing, we went to bars and nightclubs to enjoy live music. The following morning, our throats would be raw. The smell of acrid, stale smoke rose up from our clothing and hair. To share an elevator these days with a smoker returning from the hourly, ‘you’ve got to smoke outside’ fix is awful and our non-smokers actively avoid this five second trip. I have learned that single smokers don’t do as well on dating sites either. Long gone are the days of smoking coolness. Instead, welcome to the world of shivering outside in industrial looking smoking huts.
Smoking is so bad for you for many reasons. Various cancers, diabetes, heart disease, gangrene toes, grotty teeth and stroke are attributed to the habit. Think of a poor liver desperately trying to detoxify their smoker’s blood. It probably costs a smoker more for life insurance. Smoking slows you down and your sense of smell and taste will be reduced. As your family suck in the air you’ve just wheezed out, consider what it is doing to their bodies.
Smoking is highly addictive and will take a lot of effort to quit. There are numerous support organisations who will help you to give up, e.g. Quit, (https://quit.org.nz and https://www.quit.org.au). Once you start to reduce your cigarette intake, your lungs begin to clean up and your body will thank you.
Quit smoking or better still, never start.