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Smoking Cigarettes is just Stupid

Guy Ritchie’s film Rocknrolla had a beautiful scene with Johnny Quidd (played by Toby Kebbell) performing a slowly delivered monologue about cigarettes. Johnny Quidd points to the health warning.

Written in boring bold black and white is the statement that these neat little soldiers of death are in fact trying to kill you. And that, Pete, is the truth.Johnny Quidd, Piano Scene, Rocknrolla

Because we know the science behind the death rate that cigarettes incurs on our society. There is no safe level of consumption of cigarettes. Not a single drag. The estimate is that one half of all cigarette smokers will die from direct causes of smoking cigarettes. We know that sucking any smoke into your lungs on a regular basis is almost suicidal (considering the 50 per cent death rate). And we know that when we get ill from smoking those little soldiers of death there will probably be someone to watch us slowly wither from cancer or lung disease and carry our oxygen right up to the hospital steps. And it’s no secret that there is a strong correlation between smoking cigarettes and levels of education. The higher the education, the less likely that we’ll continue to smoke cigarettes.

Yet we’re suckers as human beings for being butt-fucked by the large corporations. Where does the money trail of cigarettes lead, I wonder? But, we know that one, too. This is a no-brainer.

As humans we can hold two diametrically opposing views in our mind simultaneously. Cigarettes make me feel better. Cigarettes are going to kill me. Plug another durry into the cake hole and suck away that best friend with deference to the future. Nicotine, in all its sinister complexity, pats us on the shoulder and assures us there won’t be a casket for us. Only the other unlucky half of smokers.

The only real problem with deference to the future and a roulette wheel health paradigm is that a death from smoking cigarettes is absolutely horrible. My father died of chronic lung disease that meant sitting 24 hours a day at the dining room table with oxygen up his nose. For his LAST FIVE YEARS, from his late 50s into his early 60s. No, it’s not a pretty death. His brother Nig (Kevin) died a month earlier from emphysema on all fours gasping for air. Almost the worst death imaginable. And neither thought it would ever happen to them.

So I’d like to say that the single best thing I did for myself in this life was to stop smoking cigarettes. I smoked from fourteen to around thirty four. Twenty years. I found it excruciatingly hard to slowly pull up that momentum over the next four or five years. And I still have the occasional nightmare where I believe that it’s become a habit again. Such is the fear of falling off that wagon. I don’t want to smoke cigarettes… I don’t feel like smoking them… but I’m always going to be an addict. Because addictions are complicated.

No, I don’t say that as a reformed smoker. I say that as someone pointing to the science. Nearly 1 million Australians have died from cigarette smoking since 1950… the number of dead from all of our wars since Federation are only 102,784. Yet, particularly at the lower education end of society, Australians continue to smoke those wonderful products.

Amazing. Most amazing because the damage and social cost of franchises like McDonalds probably aren’t even in the ballpark (as much as we go on about obesity) as the corporate behemoths of cigarettes. One million lives. Massive numbers died slowly, in costly fashion, in front of their loved ones. And it’s incredibly stupid knowing the science.

Yes, we can point to statistical outliers and fool ourselves that we aren’t holding a loaded gun at our temple. Sure. That’ll work between casual cigarettes. It’s called embracing ignorance. But maybe, like my father and uncle, you aren’t an outlier. And I wonder what will we say when life puts a plastic bag over our head and slowly suffocates us to death in front of our family? Because we chose deference to the future and pot luck, instead of science?

I remember my father’s words before he died in his early 60s (in 2000). He said “But I don’t want to die.” And it’s as simple as that. He wasn’t a statistical outlier.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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