Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It’s my choice and I choose to smoke

“Quitters never win and I’m no quitter.” “It’s my choice and I choose to continue using nicotine!” The fact is, we lost “choice” the day nicotine took control. But that doesn’t stop the tobacco industry from spending billions on store marketing to build a mighty facade that screams, “smoking is an adult free-choice activity.” Every time we step up to the counter to purchase tobacco the signs and displays hammer our brains with the message that using it is all about flavor, pleasure and aroma. Apparently few tobacco executives “choose” to buy into the lies.

A former Winston Man, David Goerlitz, asked R.J. Reynolds executives, "Don't any of you smoke?" One executive answered, "Are you kidding? We reserve that right for the poor, the young, the black, and the stupid." Once hooked, our only real alternative is the up to 72 hours needed to purge nicotine from our system. Choice? What users have chosen is to avoid withdrawal.

As Joel puts it, it isn’t that we like using nicotine but that we don’t like what happens when we don’t use it. Then there are those of us who claim to smoke knowing full well that it’s killing us. We say we don’t care what happens, that we don't want to get old, that we have to die of something, so why not smoking. Most of us using these “self-destruction” rationalizations do so to hide the fears born of a history of failed attempts, and of a false belief that we’re somehow different than others, and that we’ll never be able to stop using. Try to find anyone who isn't shocked when cancer, emphysema, heart attack or stroke does occur. As Joel writes, "no one ever called me enthusiastically proclaiming, 'It worked, it's killing me!' On the contrary, they were normally upset, scared and depressed."

Choice? Once out from under our dependency’s control then free choice is restored. But just one puff, dip or chew and our freedom and autonomy will again be lost, as our brain is soon begging for more.