Thursday, 31 May 2007

Smoking rant

Around 10 million of us smoke, not to mention those who satisfy themselves with the odd fag down the pub or who down-right lie about their habit.

I'm sure you're aware, as the 10 million painfully are, in a months time it will be against the law to smoke tobacco in public, enclosed and work spaces in England. And boy has there been a lot of noise over the issue - its the civil liberties of the minority vs. the health and prejudice of the majority.

I use the word prejudice in conjuncture with non-smokers because many have no understanding or sympathy for the addiction. Yes, its disgusting and dangerous and non-smokers just can't see how the smell, the taste and the physical harm it causes the smoker and those around him, is worth it.

Its not worth it of course, its an addiction. Smoking sucks but it becomes hard-wired into the smoker through conditioning. The psychological impact of smoking is immense, the ritual itself becomes a mental sanctuary to be cherished, whether rolling a cigarette or feeling the smoke hit the back of your throat and the (albeit rank) taste spread through your mouth.

And giving up is no picnic. Non-smokers have no idea what the cravings feel like. They're bloody awful and many never manage to make the mental break with smoking, its an itch, untouchable, under the skin.

Pity the smoker. Don't pay for his medical bills.

I'm not particularly bothered with the blanket ban - it'll be lovely for non-smokers of course and they are the healthy majority. Hopefully smokers will be moved to stop as a result. Mind you as an infrequent smoker (still an addict, I know) I can't help feeling marginalised and think its a real shame that people will no longer be privileged (its not a right, of course..) to enjoy a pint and a smoke down the local. But the ban was inevitable and smokers will deal with it.

NICE's proposal that the NHS pay for a new anti-smoking drug is appalling. Smokers are an obvious drain on the health service but I do not see how Champix will make a discernable difference, at the expense of the swelling number of cancer patients who can't get help on the NHS (thanks to NICE).

The drug's performance is also questionable, with only 20 per cent managing to break the habit in the long term after taking Champix. Surely, it will also carry with it a number of horrid side-effects.

As stated, smoking is psychological issue, if you don't really, really want to stop, you won't. No wonder pill will reprogramme you. And if you do want to stop, fine, try Champix, Zyban, NRT, go cold turkey, whatever you feel will help. I see my goal to banish smoking from my life as a personal quest. No one forced me to smoke in the first place and the addiction is my problem. I greatly appreciate the support of my non-smoking friends, though I neither want nor expect anyone else to foot the bill for my stupidity.

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