BEFORE YOU JUDGE A SMOKER…”Smoking IS bad…but the reason I smoke is much, much, worse.” I have never experienced any truly noticeable physical addiction withdrawal to cigarettes, a headache (maybe) is the only kind of physical response I can recall having. I have never smoked for an extended period of time, usually a few months, maybe socially for a year, always as a reaction to some stressful life event or during periods of heightened creativity where my mind goes a million miles an hour.
Stepping away from life for a moment with my American Spirit Blue, is like a break from reality, a chance for my brain to take a breath and slow down, a chance for my energy to realign itself in a calming and intuitive way… basically, 10 min alone in the cold darkness of the night, just me and my Blue, has definitely prevented more than one life overload meltdown, and inspired some of my most creatively brilliant ideas. I will always have a pack of Blues with me, which may last a whole year depending on what the Universe has in store for me, and the amount of emotional mind space available to me at the time.
Telling people smoking kills them, or if they don’t stop their lungs will look like this, or their voice will sound like that, is never going to get the number of smokers to decrease or lesson anyone’s chances from starting in the first place. Why people choose to medicate themselves with cigarettes, or any unhealthy substance for that matter, is what needs to be the focus to encourage them to stop. Judging smokers, giving them disapproving looks as you pass by, telling them they will die or that smoking makes them ugly, pr contributing their inability to quit simply as a lack of moral fortitude or willpower, is BEYOND counterproductive, and smokers as a result, become dehumanized and shunned. All this does is reinforces many of the feelings responsible for them choosing to smoke in the first place. Yep. YOU MAY HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO A SMOKERS HABIT. SURPRISE! Have some compassion, some understanding, try to step outside your own bias and realize that just like you, like all of us, smokers are fighting their own battles.
Am I preaching everyone should be OK with smoking? Nope. Am I justifying reasons for smoking? Nope. All I’m trying to say, is that if you want those you care about to stop smoking, or want to prevent those you care about from ever starting, scare tactics and shaming will never, ever work. Not Smoking is a lifestyle change, it requires changing things around you that create stress and worry, it requires finding other ways to have that 10 min break from reality, and its far more complex and challenging than just saying “no thanks” or “I QUIT!” A life of chaos creates a need to cope, and what woks for one person may not work for another.
So next time you find yourself snubbing the smoker, next time you find yourself blaming the smoker for the high cost of insurance, next time you find yourself questioning the smokers moral character or issuing judgement on their worthiness to receive welfare (if they can afford smokes they can pay rent), pause for a moment and think about this…isn’t the person who eats a dozen donuts or a daily McDonalds super-sized meal, who drinks a Big Gulp a day, or a hot fudge sunday midnight nightly snack, who because of their own unhealthy response to cope, is quickly on the road to becoming 30lbs overweight or is now what we call “morbidly obese” engaging in the same behavior, only with a more socially acceptable vice?
Addiction is basically an adaptive coping skill gone wrong, food addiction, gambling, heroin, sex addiction, exercise addiction, all look nearly the same when a scan is done of the addicts brain. And trying to understand why anyone would choose such a deadly way to deal or escape from the reality of life, and why its not as simple as choosing to quit, or saying no, although different for every person, is in my humble opinion, what we should be talking about. Am I making excuses for addicts? Nope. Do I think addicts deserve pity? Nope. Am I diminishing the role of personal choice when it comes to addiction? Not one bit.
Hate the sin, have compassion and understanding for the sinner. Isn’t that what Jesus would do? Allow people the freedom to enter the gates of hell based on their own choices, their own sins, their own vices, and before you judge yourself as the better human being, remember that walk you need to
walking, wearing another persons shoes.