Just now, as I was sitting here in front of my computer I happened to look up and outside of my house on the footpath in front, I saw a young girl - she looked all of about 13 maybe - lighting a cigarette. It made me shudder.
It is quite some time since I had an anti-tobacco rant but because I saw her, and because right now I am in process of deleting all my remaining Multiply posts I offer edited versions of past essays with update.
started smoking when I was sixteen. I had already left school for a
year, I had a 'steady' boyfriend and all my friends smoked, my boyfriend
smoked, his friends smoked, my parents smoked; in fact it seemed like
everyone around me had fags hanging out their mouths except me. So it
wasn't that I especially needed to smoke or even that anybody pressured
me to smoke, it was just that I felt like such an idiot back then, not
I was addicted from the first cigarette.
The book, Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking is not the flashest written
book by a long shot. It is not even overlong. In quite simple terms Allen
Carr discusses smoking as an addiction, how this particular addiction
works to keep the smoker under control so that they keep on smoking, and
then by following Allen Carr's instructions, how the smoker can stop
Allen Carr himself was a smoker, smoking
for over thirty years and smoking his way through up to one hundred
cigarettes a day, an amount which even I can self-righteously find
incredible, but when, as a smoker, you read his story and his
instructions for stopping smoking and know that if he can do it you can
do it too, the whole idea becomes at least credible to you. This is not
some posh doctor pontificating from some high-up pedestal, telling you,
the smoker, how bad you should feel about yourself. This is another
human being just like you, who has fought the same demons that you are
now girding yourself to fight and reaching out a hand to show you how.
That's part of why the book works.
Smokers are not actually
idiots, (well maybe some are, but most aren't). They all know, even if
they won't admit it, that smoking is expensive and unhealthy. Most wish
they had never started. Smoking is a drug addiction just like alcohol
addiction or heroin addiction. Being addicted means that a substance is
controlling you and your behaviour. It means that no matter how you run
your budget the biggest priority of a smoker is always making sure that
there is enough money to run the addiction, even at the expense of your
family and the people you love. In this respect a smoking addiction is
no different from any other addiction. It still amazes me how much more
money I have to spend on basic things now that I should have been able to buy all
along. I am feel so
Actually it still amazes me that I am not still
smoking too, and the fact that I am not smoking is down to this book by
Allen Carr. "The object of the book" wrote Carr, "is to get you
into the frame of mind in which, instead of the normal method of
stopping whereby you start off with the feeling that you are climbing
Mount Everest and spend the next few days craving a cigarette and
envying other smokers, you start off right away with a feeling of
elation, as if you had been cured of a terrible disease."
follow my instructions, you will be happy to be a non-smoker for the
rest of your life" reads the blurb on the back of my copy of the book.
It's true too. I have been a non-smoker after reading this book since the 2nd of February 2007 and I
do not feel 'deprived". He does indeed offer a unique method without
scare tactics which focuses on removing the psychological "need" to
There is a political side to all of this.
Most support structures around now, (government-run or
otherwise), that exist to encourage people to not smoke any more, focus
on supporting a smoker to "give up"
the terrible vice. They wind up subsidising the nicotine drug in
another form such as nicotine patches or gum. Allen Carr argues that this is why they have such a
low success rate. A smoker "giving up smoking"
in this manner only ends up feeling "deprived". Moreover, the unwitting
smoker who may not only be failing to 'give up' smoking is also in
danger of becoming addicted to wearing a nicotine patch or chewing on
the nicotine gum during their working hours. In effect they may become doubly addicted.
All this may well raise
some interesting thoughts about the politics of governments and
corporates and the way in which pharmaceutical companies are gradually
wresting the nicotine industry from the tobacco companies in western
countries at least. Allen Carr touched on these ideas in the book as
well and on the website.
So nicotine doesn't disappear from the shelves. You just find it on different shelves.
Imagine selling a product where you know every user will eventually die sooner than they would have otherwise because they use your product. And in the nature of Capitalism you are working to expand your customer base and 'grow' your company and your profits. How do they sleep at night?
In the most appalling acts of cynicism and greed for profits
above all else, these companies like British American Tobacco now target young
kids in African and Asian countries. In these countries the number of smoking-related deaths
are expected to double in the next twenty years. The tobacco companies want the young ones addicted
because they will take longer to die from smoking related diseases than
older people so they will be customers longer. Its evil.
Tobacco exacerbates poverty. The World Health Organisation (WHO) tells us that “tobacco and poverty are inextricably linked. Many
studies have shown that in the poorest households in some low-income
countries as much as 10%, (and the rest - in some households it will be a much higher percentage, depending on the price of the cigarettes and tobacco in each country),
of total household expenditure is on tobacco [and therefore] there is
less money to spend on basic items such as food, education and health
care. In addition to its direct health effects, tobacco leads to
malnutrition, increased health care costs and premature death. It also
contributes to a higher illiteracy rate, since money that could have
been used for education is spent on tobacco instead.”
Even more insidiously tobacco is also contributing to world hunger because it diverts prime land away from food production.
Land that has been destroyed or degraded to grow tobacco has effects on
nearby farms too, decreasing even more food production. As more forests
are cleared to make way for more tobacco plantations then the soil
protection those forests provided is lost and the soil is more likely to
be washed away in heavy rains. This leads to more soil degradation and
failing yields. Large amounts of wood are used to cure tobacco leaves
and tobacco uses up more water, and has more pesticides applied to it,
further affecting water supplies. The hard cash earned from this
“foreign investment” is offset by the costs in social and public health
and the environment. In effect, profits are privatized; costs are
socialised. They make the money, the rest of us throughout the world pay the costs.
For Hone Harawira, now leader of the Mana Party here in Aotearoa, Tobacco Production and Marketing is a Colonisation issue. In a speech he made in 2006 he said:
will say though that smoking is about Maori people making choices. But I
say no. HELL NO!!! Smoking is a part of colonisation. Tobacco has had
its day in America and Europe, and now they are looking for other places
to conquer; places like Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and now China.
They're colonising places even America can't get into. And smoking ain't
a choice; it's a disease. And just like the flu came with colonisation,
so did tobacco. In fact, at the launch of the 2001 Maori Quit campaign,
even the Prime Minister admitted that smoking came with the coloniser.
to cigarettes is also part of institutional racism, because tobacco
companies use their structures, their policies and their practices to
oppress our people in the same way as government agencies have. These
companies are owned by white people driven by a lust for profit. They
have no conscience about selling a product that kills our people, and in
case you don't believe me, here's a quote from a Tobacco Company
Executive who said: "We don't smoke this shit - we sell it. We reserve
the right to smoke it, to the young, the poor, the black and the
pointed out that there is untold money spent on debating and on
legislating the health warnings on cigarette packets, and then
restrictions on points of sale, and then on smoke-free workplaces, and
then smoke-free bars. Hundred and thousands of hours and millions of
dollars are being poured into smoking cessation programmes as well. What
this has done is to simply create one industry to manage another.
Which is so true. Back to Allen Carr who argued that instead of nicotine addiction
decreasing through all those smoking cessation programmes what was actually happening was that
pharmaceutical corporations were taking over control of the nicotine
substance from the tobacco companies. Probably the same rich guys have
money in both. Allen Carr stated: "Many
of those who championed NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) as an aid to
quitting are now backtracking. Nicotine, they argue, should now be
administered to addicts, not as a means of quitting the drug, but merely
as a “safer alternative” to smoking. So, the objective of nicotine
treatment is soon to become a long term (in other words lifelong)
maintenance programme with a variety of nicotine products provided for
addicts to use for the rest of their lives."
Thereby keeping those companies in the money forever. Oh goody.
is a poison. No matter how you wrap it up, no matter how pretty the
package, it is still a poison. All they are talking about here is making
a more socially acceptable form of a drug so that non-smokers won't be
bothered by cigarette smoke. I cannot see any other benefit.
In Aotearoa/New Zealand the current government has agreed in principle to introduce a plain packaging regime for tobacco, subject to the outcome of a consultation process. The consultation process closed at 5pm, 5th of October 2012.
The Ministry of Health is now analysing the submissions and working
with other government departments including Treasury, Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and
Employment to prepare a report back to Cabinet before the end of the
year. A summary of the submissions will be placed on the website of the Ministry of Health following the decision of the Cabinet. There were 292 individual submissions. In addition more than 20,000
people and organisations expressed a view on the proposal through
pre-printed postcards, letters, and petitions.
Unsurprisingly British American Tobacco aren't happy. They argue that plain packaging is an infringement of their intellectual property rights. “Packaging is an important element of any company’s intellectual
property. A government prohibition on a company’s right to use their own
intellectual property constitutes property removal and sets a
disturbing precedent for businesses throughout New Zealand. “If
government is prepared to do this today, are the next logical steps to
force alcohol, fast food, salty or sugary products into plain packs as
well?” said Susan Jones, BATNZ’s Head of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs.
Frankly, Susan, I don't give a damn.