Smokers. F*ck ’em?

24 Jul

Smokers deserve everything that’s coming to them.  If they choose to smoke, why should I pay out through the NHS to save them?

Is this what YOU think?

I hate smoking. I hate everything about it. I can’t help but look at people with pity and distaste when I see them chuffing away on a cigarette, lips like a cat’s arse. I know, I’m one of those awful ex-smokers. The thing is, in order to give up you have to learn to hate it. Despise it with a passion greater than the desire to do it. To finally see it for what it is – a drug addiction like any other, but rather than huddled away in a backstreet somewhere getting their fix, smokers are just doing it out in the open, and with the consent of the government. No less desparate. No less pitiful. Watch a smoker in a restaurant waiting for the opportunity to excuse themselves for a fag. All jittery and cross.  Then tell me smoking heightens social enjoyment.

But do I think smokers deserve everything they get? Absolutely not. Do I think they’re as worthy as breast cancer or brain cancer sufferers of publically funded and expensive courses of treatment? Of course.

The fact is, people do not “choose” to smoke. Okay let me clarify that. Smokers may choose to have their first puff in the school toilets, and maybe the 2nd or 3rd puffed out their bedroom window while mum unknowingly cooks a healthy meal downstairs, but smokers don’t choose to carry on smoking any more freely than a heroin addict makes the decision to buy more gear that day. Smokers may say they like it, that it keeps them company, is their reward after a bad day, but the reality is it’s only ever the cigarettes that are in control – a power-crazy, insiduous addiction playing devilishly with their thoughts, guaranteeing its next fix. Of course smoking is enjoyable, why else would people do it against all the advice and harsh medical truths? I’m pretty sure an opiate high is pretty awesome. Reward perpetuates the thing – basic Pavlos Theory.

Yet most people MUST think lung cancer sufferers deserve all they get. Although lung cancer accounts for the greatest number of cancers diagnosed every year and 22% of cancer deaths, it receives a meagre 7% of total cancer funding. All this despite the fact that lung cancer is a silent killer that kills the majority of its victims within 12 months of diagnosis. In my mum’s case it was 2. By the time hers was caught it was everywhere – liver, brain, ovaries. She didn’t stand a chance.

But the basic truth is, lung cancer just isn’t sexy. It’s all tarred lungs, hacking coughs and wrinkled skin, washed through with a big helping of “we told you so”.

In the 1950s my mum’s doctor used to farm out cigarettes to her when she went for an appointment. Apparently it was good for your health, helped you relax. Of course now we know better, but it doesn’t change the fact that if you make a drug freely available on the high street people will get hooked, and many won’t have the strength, the resources, the drive to give up. After all, would you sell a hit of crack at a Sainsbury’s quick checkout counter and blame a crackhead for buying it?

If society consents to sell cigarettes legally, then society must deal with the consequences, including supporting all of its victims. Either that, or do what I’d prefer, and ban the bastards altogether.

To make a donation to specifically fund research and treatment into lung cancer, or for more information on lung cancer pls visit the Roy Castle Lung Foundation.

9 Responses to “Smokers. F*ck ’em?”

  1. northernmum July 24, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    Excellent post lovely. So many good points, and yes I am an ex smoker as well.

    Am with you on the ban x

  2. Julia Skinner July 25, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    With the great cuts in research & support for illness, we are going to have to face more and more decisions like the one you have laid out here H. It is really difficult but good to think about and actually decide what makes us human! Good post!

  3. marketingtomilk July 25, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    you can’t prioritise some cancers over others while you still take billions of pounds in tax on cigarettes a year.

  4. mrshev July 25, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    Maybe there should be an extra duty on a pack of cigarettes to mitigate against the cost for the taxpayer to treat lung cancers? After all 90% (for men) and 83% (for women) of people who develop lung cancer are smokers. If the government could guarantee that that extra 5% on a pack of 20 goes towards cancer units (lung cancer specifically) then I don’t have a problem with people smoking. But it needs to come from the government, not the user.

    But I’d also like to see the way drug addiction in general is handled. There needs to a paradigm shift away from punishment and criminalisation and more of a move towards therapy, treatment and support. The only way to fight the war on addiction is to fight the need rather than the supply.

    [gets off soapbox]

    p.s. My mother died of lung cancer (2 years from diagnosis until death). She was a smoker and when she found out? She lit a cigarette.

    • marketingtomilk July 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

      yes, but smoking is legal = acceptable. So that perpetuates the thing. Just illegalise it first, then change the way we deal with addiction. you’ve been reading Brand’s artile on winehouse today?

      • mrshev July 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

        No, was a choice between Russell Brand’s article or yours. I chose yours!

  5. nmaha July 25, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    Wow! Being anon-smoker i’ve never thought about it so deeply. Did doctors really recommend smoking!? I’m with you on the ban and funding.

  6. Insomniac Mummy August 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    I lost my Nana to lung cancer just 6 weeks ago. She was in her 80’s and decided upon diagnosis that she didn’t want treatment – she’d had her time.

    When she served in the army (in the ATS) they were given cigarettes. Back then there wasn’t the bad press, or the knowledge we have now, so like most of her friends, she smoked. A life time later it killed her.

    I too am an ex smoker, and can completely see where you are coming from regarding a ban. Until cigarettes aren’t on sale on every street corner in every city then there is always going to be a problem.

    • marketingtomilk September 5, 2011 at 10:57 am #

      can’t believe i didn’t reply to this at the time. sorry to have about your nana. what a strong, stoical woman to have resisted all (no doubt useless) treatment.


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