Friday, July 25, 2008

On my soapbox
It's been a while since I've written a personal, non-deleted, introspective post. I think it's about time for one. This has been on my mind all week & it's only driving me crazy because the person who needs to hear it, doesn't care to listen in the least bit. Or really, doesn't care at all. So, what's better than blogging about it if I'm not going to be heard. This is something we all know, maybe we share the same feelings, maybe we don't, but it's going to be said anyway.

Smoking is one of the most selfish habits anyone can have.

There is absolutely no reason to do it, no reason to start, no valid reason to keep doing it. Personally, I find it disgusting, but there are so many other reasons why I hate the habit (& no, I have never smoked a cigarette in my life). It's mainly because it effects everyone around them, as much as the smoker may deny. They refuse to believe how much their habit hurts the ones they love the most (or are supposed to), far beyond the physical damage. There is so much emotional damage that comes along with it.

Kids from a very early age are taught that smoking is bad & to never start. They hear this in school, in church & sometimes at home. We see the commercials out there now about how smoking causes cancer & many other health problems. It's undeniable how much they slowly kill a person, when the warning is right there on the box. Kids take this warning to heart. They love their parents & other family members & knowing that smoking kills, they want to make them stop. For those that missed Oprah's Stop Smoking episode, there's the daughter of a smoking couple practically begging her parents to quit. It's heart breaking.

I know how that little kid feels, knowing that her parents are doing something "bad" that will kill them. This kind of knowledge & guilt that's put on their shoulders is more than unfair, it's cruel. It's callous. It's damaging, not only in the physical sense, but the emotional as well. If you want to mentally torture your kids? Keep smoking, even when the beg you to stop. And don't believe that you can hide it from them. They will find out. They aren't stupid.

As the years go by & the smoker continues their addictive habit, they get in way over their heads to the point where it's almost impossible to stop. It's been said that smoking is just as addictive as heroin. Why on Earth would someone start doing something that is so difficult to stop? Especially today! With everything we know! It still boggles my mind. But, because it's so difficult to stop, the physical damage to the smoker continues to progress. What happens to the family if (or more like when) the smoker develops diseases like emphysema or cancer? It's one of the most horrific times in a family members life, creating so much suffering equal to the physical suffering of the diseased smoker.

I've worked in a cancer clinic many years ago, where the majority of the patients were lung cancer patients. They would come in for chemo & with their oxygen tank in tow, hang out in the courtyard & light up again. It was the epitome of addiction. They were dying & couldn't stop (or hated themselves so much that they didn't want to). On more than one occasion, a cancer patient who also had emphysema, with their greenish-gray skin color, would stop breathing right before my eyes. Have you ever witnessed someone suffocating right in front of you? It's traumatic. The extreme fear in their eyes is something that would deter anyone from starting the deadly habit. Calling 9-1-1 to get them to the hospital ASAP before you witness their immanent death is something that no family member should have to experience.

Then there's the "C" word. Cancer. We live in a society where everything "causes" cancer. The sun, the air we breath, the products we use on our skin & the food we eat. But, without a shadow of a doubt we DO KNOW that smoking causes cancer. If you don't believe that, then Lord help you, because you're going to need it. As well as having worked in a cancer clinic, I've had family die from cancer. While not suffering from lung cancer, the result is the same. A slow & painful death. I vividly remember the last days of a passing loved one on morphine to stop the pain, calling to make sure they could say their good-byes regularly because nobody knew when the day would come, albeit soon. It was gut wrenchingly difficult, to say the least. Knowing that the risk of this being your future is very, very likely, I still don't know why a person would make the choice to smoke.

I wish more smokers would think about The Big Picture. Rather than thinking about how "cool" they are, or how much of a stress reliever it is for them, being selfish to the nth degree, I wish they would think about how their family is suffering from it or will suffer greatly in the near future. How much stress it causes them. How many tears would be shed from the results of their habits, how many sleepless nights there will be worrying about medical bills & everything else that comes along with illness.

There is no valid reason to start, no good reason to keep doing it & no sane reason to ever pick it up again.


TheQueen said...

I'm a lurker here, but I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU!!!!

Alicia Seevers said...

My MIL and FIL both smoke like chimneys. However I like to refer to them as closeted smokers, because if they are in a social setting with people they don't know they will NEVER light up in the setting, they will go somewhere where no one can see them.
FIL developed bladder cancer (result of smoking) in 2005 and had to have his entire bladder removed. His doctor told him he needed to quit smoking and stop drinking so much coffee. Let's just quit the worser of the two vices.
Needless to say it is 2008 and FIL is still smoking although he tells us he does not anymore because he goes for walks to smoke instead of doing it in front of us. MIL had the lines from smoking surgically removed years before I met Chris and stopped smoking. Unfortunately, she too is still smoking her life away. She has a cough that sounds like death but continues to take drags off the cancer stick.
Thankfully I never got addicted to nicotine, I think it might be quite possibly the worst addiction out there, meaning the hardest one to quit. Luckily we live in California where you pretty much can only smoke on your own property or in wide open spaces. You can't even smoke in your own car if you are transporting children under 18. Disneyland even has restrictions.
Chris and I often comment on the millionaires his parents would be if they hadn't wasted so much money on cigarettes. It is the dirtiest and deadliest habit around!

angie said...

I'm with 'ya.. I DETEST smoking! Blah!

Jezer said...

And, cigarettes are as addictive as heroin. I smoked 2 a day (2 cigarettes, not 2 packs) for years, and those 2 cigarettes were the hardest things ever to quit. I did, finally. But I'll always be an addict.

While I don't find smoking repulsive--quite the contrary, I crave it at times--I do detest it. it killed my grandfather and my father-in-law, both of whom I'll never meet.

Starting is the worst thing a person can do, and quitting is the hardest. You just hope that it doesn't kill in the meantime.

Liz said...

i quit smoking 4 years ago...
i started smoking because it was the cool thing to do. i wanted a boy to think i was cool. i have no idea whatever happened to that boy. but i do know i smoked for 18 years.
i miss my cigarettes, i miss my smoke breaks. i know i can never be a "social smoker." one drag, one pack, one's all the same to me.
it's hard to explain the hold the nicotine and the sheer ACT of having a cigarette is to a non-smoker. and it's hard to argue with your post. except, count yourself as fortunate and healthy to have never 'been there.'
it's a hard, hard habit to quit. and you're not wrong to say it's a selfish habit, but most habits are just that: selfish.
when i'm in a position where i find myself aggravated with someones habit, i just have to walk away and redirect my energy. i know that when i felt judged (and i was judged, no doubt), i just felt worse. and the judging was counter-effective, rather than shaming me into quiting, it made me feel terrible and completely disempowered.

Dawn B said...

I, too, started smoking years ago just because my boyfriend at that time was smoking.
I was 15.
Yeah.. and my parents didn't really care. To this day I have issues with how they didn't really care or even say anything to me. I don't even recall getting that talk about how smoking is bad.
What so many people don't realize is that nicotine IS A DRUG. It's, like you said, just like heroin.
Or crack. Or Meth. I don't care how "different" in their technical senses that they's an addictive drug and the fact that you can just go and pick up a pack pretty much anywhere, sickens me.
I was a smoker from ages 15 to 27 off and on. Solidly smoking for many of those years. I quit as soon as I found out I was pregnant with both children, and going "cold turkey" was the only way for me to do it. It's how I am. I HATE the fact that I was smoking for those first few precious weeks of my childrens' lives in utero. It kills me. But, I do know now that smoking is nasty.... it is a very expensive ticket to a long and slow and painful death.
No thank you. And I've been smoke-free for 2 years now. Thank god. I still wonder how long it will take for my lungs to fully heal.

Kristin said...

This post has a lot of emotion, maybe bitter emotion, because of the YEARS of trying to get through & having been repeatedly lied to about it.

I can totally understand that the addiction is a constant struggle for the rest of a smoker's life. That's what addiction is, you learn to deal with it & it will never go away. It's the same with eating disorders, alcoholism & drug addiction.

Although this wasn't inspired by Grandpa L's smoking, his addiction is so strong that it negatively affects the relationship he could have with some of his grandkids (I can only speak for our kids). He has fantasies of taking them out on boating trips, or whatever & the reality is that will never happen because he is the Human Chimney, a true chain smoker & would never be able to go without a smoke during the time with the grandkids. I'm not going to let my kids stand around him & his addiction, there are rules in our family regarding that (he has to smoke away from them). It's incredibly sad that his addiction is stronger than his respect for the family & the relationship he could have.

It's also very sad that someday his health will fail & the rest of the family will suffer the consequences. That's not a fair position to put loved ones in. Here he is smoking for his enjoyment & once it kills him, others will have to pick up the pieces.

Clearly this post was meant for someone else.

This is something I'm passionate about because it's a marriage I never signed up for, a future I never hoped for, a husband that I didn't want & certainly not the father I intended my children to have. And it was known from Day One, no surprises. After 4 or 5 times of being lied to, trying to get back on track being supportive & have more of a team effort in kicking the habit, only to be lied to - straight to my face - sympathy tends to go out the window.

Jaime said...

Smoking is a heated debate and understandably so. Smokers claim they have the right to smoke and lets face it, they do. But it's when they infringe upon non-smokers that it becomes an issue and this is what I have a problem with.

I started smoking when I was 19 years old and in a theatre troupe. They all would go out for their 'smoke' breaks and finally I relented when offered. I never should have accepted and even more than that I never should have started but I did.

Thus began a smoking habit that spanned 5 years and let me tell you, then I was one of those selfish people I hate now. Not because I smoked in restaurants or around small children but because I felt entitled to smoke because it was my right to do so.

Then something more important than myself came along - my pregnancy. I stopped cold turkey.

I don't like them, hate the way they smell and gave up one of my loves - shooting pool-because I refused to be covered in a cloud that stuck to my clothing and absorbed into my hair. But at the time I was puffing, I thought there was nothing wrong at all with them.

My Mom smokes, so does my sister and Father. Each time we go there they smell of state smoke and it's difficult at times to be around them. But I suppose since it is my family and I love them (especially my Dad who's smoked all my life) I have learned I have to accept it. Even if it's going to slowly kill them and age them prematurely.

Sorry, that didn't really go anywhere, just random thoughts about it. It's something I can't formulate well into words.