Sunday 27 May 2012

An open letter to anti-smokers

Get off your damn high horse.

This is you, on your high horse. Get off it.

Smoking is a terrible habit that I plan to kick for good at some point in the future, based on many reasons, not limited to financial and health benefits. Yes, I understand that I'm killing myself by smoking them. Yes, I know how expensive they are. Yes, I know how bad they smell and I know how inconvenient it is to have a friend who is a smoker.

I know all of these things, we all do. Why on earth would anybody still smoke, knowing all of these reasons not to? Well, you can bet your arse that there's be a lot less smokers out there if it were a habit that was easy to flick.

The key is in that last statement, however: It actually isn't easy to quit as it turns out. Funny that. Just know that every time you tell me that what I'm doing is wrong and make me feel even worse for doing it actually has a direct negative impact on my willingness or ability to actually give them up. Every time somebody "tells me off" for smoking (yeah, apparently it's okay for absolutely anybody to weigh in on my life choices), it makes me want to smoke more. Don't understand why? That's because you're not a smoker.

The only thing worse than morally superior non-smokers who were able to stay away from cigarettes and therefore are a better human being are morally superior ex-smokers. They think that just because they were able to give up cigarettes in their own life that they reserve the right to not only publicly condemn their former comrades but to preach to you like a televangelist about what method worked for them and how you have to try it.

You know what? Aside from the addictiveness of nicotine, something else that compels me to smoke is the fact that I actually enjoy it. It might be hard for some of you to understand, but it is a stress release for me. I have tried quitting on several occasions. The times that I was unsuccessful was due to the fact that I still enjoyed smoking too much and therefore couldn't drag myself away from them. The times that I have successfully quit (yes, I actually have) were when I was in the right mental space to give them up... and it ain't some switch I can flick on or off at will.

The tragedy of it all is that I have actually quit smoking before and re-taken it up on several occasions. The nicotine was out of my body completely in a medical sense, but mentally I slipped backward in a moment of weakness at a social event and I was straight back on them.

Government, hear me. You know those packages with the grotesque pictures of people and babies that you print on the side of my cigarettes? A complete waste of time, they have absolutely no effect on me. I'm completely desensitised to it. Those commercials that you show me with dying people leaving children behind, and blood coughing? It actually drives me to have a cigarette, and I'll tell you why. Every time I see a cigarette lit, I immediately want one. Whether it be in film, on television or even in person, it reminds me at a sub-concious level that I feel like having one. Yes, I'm saying that your ads have the complete opposite effect to their intention. Who'd you hire to consult on these Quit Line, the Marlboro man?

Plain packaging, really? You think that this is going to make us quit? Please. The only thing you're going to do is to decrease Big Tobacco's marketing budgets. At the moment, they all have to spend as many squillions as each other to maintain their market share. The moment you remove their ability to even colour their own packaging, you'll put them all on a level playing field... but it will have zero impact on how many people still buy cigarettes.

Education is not the answer here folks, we all know the risks.

In summary, I know I should quit for many reasons and plan to at some point. I'll quit when I'm goddamn ready, and not before. So, before you open your mouth to point out what we all know Captain Obvious, ask yourself whether or not you are really just about to offer some sage advice that will make me "see the light", or more likely probably just piss me off.


  1. Worse are the people who preach who USED to be smokers. They are like born again Christians in their voracity.

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  2. Agree with everything you say. But stop bashing all reformed smokers. I'd love to be smoking, I miss it. Love it when somebody lights up near me so I can smell it, but I won't start again. I won't even recommend the method I used to give up because it was absolute shit to do. I will say that now I am really glad to have given up. You are all on you're own as to methods or motivations to give up Good luck and may the Marlboro Man be with you. Ric

    1. Well put, Ric. You'll notice that I only called out the "preaching" ex-smokers, not all of them. Neither you or Mum ever get into me about my smoking, and I appreciate it :)

  3. Cheers mate, I will however give advice if and only if asked first.

  4. I agree completely. I understand the never-smokers. What basis for comparison do they have? Unless they have overcome a crippling heroin or cocaine addiction, it's hard for them to understand the power that nicotine has over a person; both mentally and physically.

    The (as Colin says) Born-Again-Non-Smokers that wander around turning their nose up at smokers, laughing and tsk-tsking people who say they aren't ready to, having trouble with their attempts to, unwilling to, quit. It's those ones that infuriate me.

    I am currently three weeks without a cigarette and I give you permission to deck me should I ever start preaching.

    1. As one that has struggled with quitting smoking myself, I applaud the progress you've made. You've pushed passed the physical addiction at this point so well done :)

      I hope you are able to stave off the mental one, best of luck.

  5. I like your writing, Josh.
    Nick K

  6. I love this song by Passenger "I hate" I especially love this line
    [I hate stepping outside for a smoke, and some guy coughs,
    Like your lungs are his.]
    So many times I have lived that moment, clearly Mike Rosenberg is or has been a smoker.
    Those people coughing as they walked past you,outside in the cold were always stepping inside warm inviting clubs or Restaurants that you as a smoker here exiled from, and yet they coughed.

  7. Hey, I really enjoyed this post. Cheers.