The act of smoking tobacco or other substances
Warning: Smoking is Harmful, it contains over 4000 different chemicals, it can harm your child, it causes lung cancer…
“Blah, blah, blah,” says your addicted brain, “heard it all before. Let’s have a smoke.”
My friend gave up smoking today. I have given up a million times before, sometimes for over a year at a time, but gone back to it. But today she and her mother decided to stop together, so I felt it only polite to show willing, and give up alongside them. They are both heavy smokers (twenty five to forty per day), and my friend has never tried to give up before in thirteen years of smoking.
I never have a problem giving up, I don’t feel nervous or anxious, I just stop. Then I’m angry with myself for starting again eight months later. I don’t know why I start again, it’s not even when I’m stressed, something just triggers a desire and a craving to buy cigarettes. Within thirty minutes I’m at the shop, puffing away on my cigarette thinking, “What am I doing…?”
Warning: Putting your head in this machine will cause a slow and painful death
Smoking is one of the great mysteries of our time. If we know that it is not good for the system and we are the most intelligent being on the planet, why do we continue to do it? We see photos of smokers who have cancer and think it’s disgusting. Our breath stinks, our houses stink, our clothes stink, it stings our eyes, it makes us cough, it stops us doing sport – sorry, what was it good for again? Well, in the days before the government health warnings, smoking manufacturers told everybody it was good for them. Cured asthma, helped your breathing etc… But I think we can probably discount that advice now, don’t you?
So I started a list of what benefits smoking gives me. Here it is:
- Makes me feel less stressed when I’m anxious about something.
- Gives me something to do when I’m bored.
- Makes me feel good in the company of other smokers.
I seriously couldn’t think of anything else to write here. I won’t bother about making a list against smoking as I think I have enough information on that now. Cigarette advertising is banned now, and I’m sure there are government figures on how many people have not started smoking as a result of it, but to be honest with you, I haven’t noticed a marked decrease in the number of cigarette ends I see littering the streets. So I’m not really sure if banning cigarette advertising has harmed the manufacturers. And anyway, what would their message be? “Smoke Brand X, it gives you something to do when you’re bored.” Not very exciting advertising, is it?
Which leads me to the real reason it doesn’t really affect their tobacco sales. Oh, yes, it’s really addictive.
They know that once you’re hooked whether as a teenager at school or later on in life, that you’ll be addicted within the first few packets and unless anything goes wrong, (like you die or somehow manage to give up), they know they’ve got a customer for life. Not a bad business, is it?
Warning: Drinking lethal poison increases your chances of an early death.
So it got me to thinking about this drug, the one that these global multinationals are selling legally in their nice shiny packages. The drug that kills millions of people worldwide. That costs business and healthcare organisations billions of pounds a year.
What is it about this drug that makes me feel nervous if I’m going to a non-smoking restaurant, or if I’m flying for over two hours or staying in a non-smoking house? What is it about a cigarette that makes me do anything to crave it in spite of all the knowledge of the health costs? Let me tell you a quick story.
A friend of mine told me recently he had been on a detox: a liver detox to be precise, and had not drunk any alcohol, eaten any wheat, dairy or meat, and was feeling much better as a result.
“Did you stop smoking?” I asked him.
“No, I don’t think I could cope with giving up everything at the same time!” He replied.
When I explained that actually the one thing he should be giving up is smoking, as it is the worst for his health, he still seemed unconcerned. This struck a chord with me as I have done the exact same thing: gone on a retreat, meditated, went on a fast, detoxed, and do you know the first thing I did when I finished? Had a cigarette!
Warning: Jumping of this building could harm your unborn child
This may seem crazy to those of you who are fortunate enough to have never smoked, but it’s even more crazy to someone addicted like me, where I just can’t stop smoking. I just can’t stop. In a battle of wills, the addiction wins by offering all sorts of promises or threats to make sure I get the nicotine into the system. It doesn’t care if it’s good for you or not.
I acknowledge that I am the most intelligent being on the planet
I will do what is best for my system
If I do not do what is best for my system
I acknowledge that I am not the most intelligent being on the planet
If you remember, this was a statement we used in the addiction topic. I am not going to cover the addiction side again, but what I want to discuss is that as the most intelligent beings on the planet, most of us try to do what is best for our systems by eating a diet that contains fresh vegetables, fruit, and limit the amount of alcohol we drink; but we can’t seem to acknowledge that smoking cigarettes is not good for the system. This is also why we pay no attention to government health warnings.
If I read on a tomato that it could cause lung cancer, or other serious diseases do you think I’d touch it? Not a chance! If I read on a lettuce that it could increase my chances of an early death do you think I’d eat it? Not a chance! I think it is clear that if we could, we would do what is best for our system. So there has to be something blocking our ability to choose to do what is in the best interests of your system. There is: Addiction.
Warning: Eating these grapes could harm you and others around you
Addiction is just a mistake, it has to be, a mistake during the long process of evolution that has left the brain believing that it actually needs cigarettes for survival. If the human body is the most perfect machine on the planet, why do you think it would have allowed itself to become addicted to substances that are not beneficial to the system? I do not have the answer. I am quite lucky in that I can go for months at a time without a cigarette, but I have always gone back to it. Having alcohol always seems to make me want a cigarette too. In fact I never crave a cigarette until I have alcohol but then I could smoke twenty in one night!
It seems crazy and illogical, doesn’t it? Especially to someone who has never smoked. They see it as being weak-willed, but it isn’t.
I have given up many things in life, including meat, and never had a problem with cravings, but smoking is different isn’t it? It prays on your thoughts like a parasite, hijacking rational thinking with a quick “let’s have a cigarette” interjection. You feel a little pang of excitement about getting the reward (the cigarette) and are motivated to action to get a packet. It doesn’t even matter that it is expensive, and I can’t afford it, I just find the money from somewhere! All for something that is killing me.
This addiction is exploited to the max by the cigarette manufacturers. They make billions of dollars keeping us addicted.
Recently I started to wonder how the chief executive sleeps at night, knowing he is selling a product (albeit legally of course) that is killing millions of people round the world and costing health services billions in looking after patients who have developed smoking related diseases. He would argue that people are exercising free will, making a personal choice in buying cigarettes, and he doesn’t promote them to the under 18’s. So technically, all he’s doing is providing a service, much like the drug pushers.
He would have you believe that he is making a different product to cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and alcohol, but although the products may have different effects, they all are to provide pleasure to the brain and are highly addictive. This being the case, free will and personal choice don’t come into it. If you are addicted to something, your brain will motivate you to get it whatever the costs to yourself (financial, physical, or emotional).
Tobacco is an industry that employs thousands of people around the world, and contributes billions of dollars to the government in tax raised from the sale of every packet.
So you can see that it isn’t technically in the government’s interest to ban this product. They must have weighed up the health care costs versus the tax raised and fallen on the side of allowing these companies to operate. Despite many government “war on drugs” programs they consistently fail to recognise tobacco as the biggest killer. This is more than likely for economic reasons.
So let’s go back to these tobacco companies, these companies who sell death on every street corner.
A moment ago I was wondering how the chief executive sleeps at night, knowing that millions of people suffer as a result of a product he makes, and it came to me. He sleeps the same as the man who is the chief executive of a company that makes nuclear weapons or guns – soundly!
He is happy his company makes plenty of profit, has happy shareholders, a complicit government, and a large salary to boot, what more could he ask for? He doesn’t care about the end product, he is concerned purely with the unemotional task of running a business, giving jobs to the community, delivering a product on time, and getting his invoices paid. He is not in the community care business, this is a commercial venture, which exists merely to make money. Why should he be bothered with such paltry things as the health of the nation, that’s for the government to deal with. As long as the product he sells is legally approved by the government, he doesn’t have to care about addiction, that’s for someone else to worry about – someone like you and me.
As I have spent literally thousands of pounds and bought over 3,500 packets of cigarettes over my lifetime (estimated), I was thinking about writing to the chief executive of the cigarette firm, whose brand I am addicted to. The letter would go something like this.
Dear mr chief executive
My name is alan orr. I have been smoking your cigarettes for the past 17 years, although I have hated myself every time I bought them. I have been to hypnotherapy, tried patches, gone cold turkey, and really desperately wanted to stop smoking for good.
As you have managed to addict me, I wondered how you plan to help me stop smoking your cigarettes. I don’t want them, but I crave them, and the cravings are sometimes too much too bear. What is it you put in these legal products that I can’t stop having them?
I await your reply eagerly, as I would like to stop smoking, and having tried everyone else, I thought that maybe you have the antidote, but don’t want to use it as you would lose money.
If you help me, I promise to keep it a secret between us.
What do you think the answer would be?
Do you think the cigarette company wants you to stop? Of course they don’t. As we discussed previously, they are a commercial business, and are not in the business of spreading good health to all corners of the globe, but maybe they could!
Forget what people say they want, that’s merely addiction talking. If the cigarette manufacturers wanted to do something good for the world they could.
So how about stopping making cigarettes, there’s a radical idea!
I’m not talking about banning cigarettes either. If you ban something, people are so stupid that they want it even more, even if it’s not good for the system. I’m talking about cigarette companies wanting to do the right thing for humanity.
Of course if you work for a cigarette company you may lose your job, but you’ll get another one. Isn’t the health of the planet important to you? Probably not. Of course, clandestine cigarette making operations would set up to provide the “customers” with what they wanted, selling at black market rates, but if you went to that trouble to get your hands on cigarettes wouldn’t you see that you were truly addicted, that you would do anything to get your hands on a small stick that you inhale acrid smoke into your lungs with?
So smokers of the world (that’s you and me), let us try to do something that so many have failed in, and that is giving up cigarettes, and showing all the chief executives of the cigarette companies that we won’t support their expensive lifestyles or their luxury villas anymore, and that we do care, not only about our own health, but we also take personal responsibility for the litter that smoking causes and the billions of dollars of other people (tax payers) money that gets wasted trying to save human beings that are addicted to smoking.
We also take responsibility for the disgusting smell that permeates so many of our cafes, bars, and restaurants, and we acknowledge that although it was not our fault we became addicted, we will not let smoking control our lives anymore. We want to breathe real air, not air filtered with tobacco and a thousand other chemicals, and we want to be able to exercise without having to stop for a breather every minute or so. We will stop supporting the employees of cigarette companies who are having rather a nice lifestyle at our expense.
I make this commitment with you today to stop smoking forever and I hope you make it too. We may feel anxious at the thought of giving up, but I for one do not want to be suffering with lung cancer in five years while cigarette company shareholders are enjoying their dividends.
Do it today. Make this your personal revolution. Don’t be kept in the prison of addiction that makes us weak and powerless. Exercise your power to do something for the benefit of your own system, and then… Exercise! Cough up that phlegm that’s been stuck in your chest all these years. Clear it out, then breath deeply. Remember, deep breathing is what gives you most of the pleasure you get when you inhale a cigarette! Think about it.
If you get tense, just inhale some nice fresh air and you’ll feel 100% better. Fresh air isn’t going to kill you. Smoking probably will.
by alan macmillan orr
‘the natural mind – waking up’