A world where nobody smokes

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We have just come back to Switzerland from a holiday in England. My daughter Tina was shocked by how strong the anti smoking laws and restrictions are there. Technically she is not allowed to smoke at all there, at least, shops are not allowed to sell cigarettes to her. She is sixteen, a few months off seventeen, but in England these days you aren’t allowed to buy cigarettes until you are 18 or over. This is her view of it.

“It is ridiculous! I’ve been smoking regularly for two or three years.  I’m old enough to get married in most countries. I have a boyfriend. I have sex. I use birth control.In most places I could leave home, leave school and get a job. In some places I could join the army. In some places I could vote in elections. And here I’m not allowed to buy cigarettes! Please!”

Although Cassie and I already knew that England is much less friendly to smokers than Switzerland is for the moment, even we had forgotten how nasty and inconvenient it is to have to go outside every time you want a cigarette.There are literally no bars, restaurants or cafes where you can smoke inside in Britain. It’s awful. Smoking really is bad for your health there, you could freeze to death!

But I know Britain isn’t the worse place. American laws are stricter still and apparently Russia is even more extreme. In Russia they are planning to make it illegal for anybody born after 2014 to ever buy cigarettes!

So it is getting more and more difficult to smoke all over the world. Even here in Switzerland the laws are gradually getting stricter and within a decade I guess you won’t be able to find public places indoors where you are allowed to smoke and even we will have to go out in the cold and snow just to have a cigarette!

Okay… So I know some people are reading this and thinking ‘That’s great!’ One day there will be no more smoking. Not legally anyway. Nowhere. Smoking will be a thing of the past.

Maybe. Maybe my generation and my daughters generation will be the last ones to smoke. Maybe people will think we are idiots because we still smoke when everyone else is giving up. Maybe we will die of some horrible smoking related disease and people can point at us and say ‘You got what you deserved.’

And of course once people like us have gone, everyone will be healthy and happy, won’t they? There will be no more cancer or heart disease. Everybody will live to be a hundred or more. The economy will automatically adjust and everything will be beautiful.We will all be happy sheep who never dream of enjoying ourselves in any way that might be darker or risky. Perhaps we’ll stop drinking as well. And of course nobody will ever invent anything enjoyable that is as dangerous as smoking or worse, will they?

Sorry but people are people. We are what we are. Part of being a grown up is deciding where and when to take the risks that give life substance and meaning. Smoking cigarettes is a social pleasure that has been part of our culture for a while and I will be sorry when it’s gone.

And in a world without smoking what else will people do? Perhaps there are health risks attached to smoking, but what health risks will be attached to the next big social habit that eventually comes to replace it?

Do you really think that humans are going to stop wanting drugs of some sort? If alcohol didn’t exist we would invent it. The same can be said for all other legal and non legal substances that pepper our social and psychological existence. Always has been. Always will be.

And if smoking were to be completely banned by law in the next few years what should happen to us if we continue to smoke illicitly? Should we be put in prison because we smoke? Just what good would that do anybody?

Prohibition has worked so well before, hasn’t it?? (Well at least it is always a bonus for the criminal fraternity).

Perhaps there really will be a world where people don’t smoke anymore. But there will never be a world where people don’t decide to do things which may be harmful to themselves or which other people don’t approve of. Perhaps we need to learn to live and let live. Perhaps with all advances that are being made in science we could make smoking safer. But you know what, even if smoking was made to be completely harmless there would still be a lot of people who want to stop us from doing it. The truth is “health” is for many people just an excuse to justify forcing their will on others. They are people who want a bland, vanilla world, where everyone is just the same as them.

Some of us are not the same and will resist all pressure to conform. We aim to misbehave.

Sophie

 

 

 

 

How/Why Smoking became a “thing” for us

We are a family of three women who write about smoking. But why should it have come to any of our minds to think that smoking cigarettes is something worth writing about in public? We have probably explained this a bit in our introduction but following a discussion between the three of us recently we felt there was a bit more to say and we realised that it actually means a bit more to all of us than we have previously admitted to ourselves or others. Cassie started this blog and she thought she was a bit strange for doing so, but actually Tina and I (Sophie) are perhaps even more passionate about the subject.

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(Cassie).  I started this blog at a point when I was beginning to realise that smoking cigarettes was not seen as an acceptable and normal part of people’s lives anymore. Moreover there was a kind of prejudice against smokers that was growing to the extent that it was threatening aspects of my lifestyle. The problem was it had already become seen as a sin to say anything positive or defensive about smoking. The media was portraying smoking as a terrible blight on society and smokers as either sad, hopeless and pathetic addicts, or nasty, stupid, antisocial individuals. I deeply resented being labelled in any of those ways. I was just as aware as any thinking person of the health risks associated with smoking, but thought that as an adult I should have the right to choose what risks to take. I think at a deeper level I hated the idea that another class of people were being set up to take a prejudicial fall. The smokers I knew and associated with were generally creative people, artists, musicians and intellectuals… People who were often critical in many ways of mainstream society… Soft rebels… The anti smoking rhetoric was a way to get at them, to get at us. At the same time all sorts of anti-smoking legislation was beginning to take effect. The kind of lifestyle I had enjoyed in my teens and twenties, hanging out in smokey cafes and bars, was being attacked and smokers like myself were being excluded from the mainstream of the social world. I felt that we were being shoe-horned into being picture perfect, goodie-goodie, Disney versions of the people we wanted to be with unnaturally white teeth and no flaws or real substance.

Also, I must say, I was one of those people who had always liked smoking. I liked and still like everything about it; the social aspects, the taste, the nicotine kick, the image, the fashion. Indeed I enjoyed all the things about smoking that it was becoming politically incorrect even to mention never mind agree with!

So I faced a choice. I could either comply with the health fascists and try to become the clean living Disney princess that society seemed to want us all to become, or I could be true to my less than perfect self. Smoking thus became a point and symbol of rebellion. I never wanted or intended for it to be that way but it became so. Smoking started as a social and personal vice which it seemed obvious to me was something  adults could choose to do. I wish it could still be just that.

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(Sophie) When I started smoking it was, for me, not about rebellion, it was more about conformity. I’m Swiss. Swiss people smoked. Nearly all of them. Most of my family smoked. My parents smoked. As soon as I became a teenager most of my friends smoked and I started smoking too. I was an outsider and a bit rebellious in other ways to do with politics, my interests and even my sexuality (being bisexual was still seen as being quite avant garde in Switzerland in those times). But smoking cigarettes was the thing I had in common with nearly everybody else.

And I liked smoking cigarettes. I thought it was glamorous. The people I looked up to in fashion, music and films smoked and I guess I tried to emulate them to some degree. Am I supposed to feel bad or guilty about that? Well I don’t. By my late teens I was already a pretty heavy smoker. I started smoking cigars as well. Tobacco was part of my everyday life. It was equally part of life for everybody I knew.

Gradually I became aware that I had also developed something of a smoking fetish. I found women and men who smoked to be sexy and I learned to smoke in a sexy way for those partners of mine that appreciated such things. But still; it was all just part of life for the ambitious young woman that I was at that time.

When I found I was pregnant with Tina I stopped smoking immediately without too much fuss. I didn’t smoke at all for several years but I never intended to permanently stop. Soon after I had stopped breast feeding I started smoking again. It was a relief.

As I got a bit older I suppose smoking lost some of its glamour but I still enjoyed it along with most of the people I socialised with. It was not something I thought much about, it was just something I did. And again it gave me something in common with most other people and in my work it often helped me to make connections with very troubled young people that would have been even more difficult to reach otherwise.

And then even here in Switzerland they began to restrict some of the freedoms that smokers had always enjoyed and to a large degree change our culture and our way of life. Quite simply, I didn’t and don’t agree with the way smoking and smokers are portrayed and marginalised by some parts of the government and media. Health warnings became more like health laws. The idea that for health reasons you shouldn’t smoke became replaced by the idea that for health reasons you MUST NOT smoke and “we” are going to stop you.

I became rebellious about it. And then every aspect of smoking from the social side to the fetish side became important to me again. And smoking also seems to me to be linked to my Swiss and European identity. We do smoke here, even if it is unhealthy (which we know it is). We live on a continent which has been ravished by war several times. A continent which feels the impact of terrorism and mass immigration before most other places. A continent which will be the first place to be targeted by all sides if there were ever a Third World War. We are used to living with risks. What we have learned is to live as fully as we can while we can.

A few years ago my daughter told me that she had started smoking. Given all that I have said above, I can’t say I was surprised, shocked or angry. I was concerned because she was even younger than I was when I started smoking (although not by much). But what should I have done; forbidden her to smoke? That would only have created a barrier between us and made me a hypocrite in her eyes. I decided to accept it with as little fuss as possible. I thought it might just be a phase that she would get bored with. In the meantime she has grown up and it turned out not to be a phase. That is fine with me. There is nothing about my daughter that I would change.

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(Tina) About a year after I first started smoking two strange things happened. First we had a kind of campaign at school to allow students to smoke in certain areas during the break times. Somehow I got involved quite deeply in that protest. We didn’t win really but the whole process made me think in a different way and I guess made me grow up in some ways. Until then I think most people didn’t notice me. I was a quiet girl who got good marks and whose mother was a teacher. But after that campaign the other students and teachers looked at me in a different way. In a way it was the birth of a new grown up version of myself; not because I smoked but because I had the guts to defend my decision.

The second strange thing was a bit more disturbing. A friend of mine found a picture of me smoking on the Internet. Even now we don’t know who took it or how it got on the Internet. It didn’t worry me as much as it worried my mother. She found out that it was on a smoking fetish site. I didn’t really understand what a smoking fetish site was at that time, but my mother did and she wasn’t pleased with whoever took and put that picture on the Internet!

Now I am a a few years older and I know what a smoking fetish is. I can understand why my mother was angry but I am not as angry about it as her. I suppose people of my age are more used to putting everything on the Internet. I am private about some things and have high security settings on my Facebook page and other sites I visit. Even on this site, I don’t give any sensitive information away. But of course I don’t like the idea that people can “get off” to pictures of me smoking without my knowledge or permission.

But I don’t mind it if I am in control. And I have come to the decision that I will allow some pictures of me to be seen as long as I decide what they are and who can see them. I might even earn some money from this.

I am at a point in my life where I am starting to take control of it more. I’m deciding who and what I want to be and how I want other people to see me. Cassie, my mother and I share similar beliefs about many things and so they respect my decisions and my independence. In some ways smoking is just one small thing about me, just one small thing that I do which is really nobody else’s business. However in another way it is a little symbol of my attitude to things in general. I think that maybe, if it wasn’t for me, Sophie and Cassie would have stopped writing this blog. I cause them to carry on and think about it more.

There are good things about smoking which you normally aren’t allowed to say these days but I will not shut up. Nicotine is a legal drug like alcohol and people use it just like alcohol because it makes them feel good. I like the feeling it gives me. It IS relaxing. It does sometimes help me to concentrate (when I study for example). It sometimes is a sociable thing. Sometimes it IS sexy. Sometimes it does look elegant and sophisticated.

Of course smoking can be addictive and it is a drug and it can cause health problems. Some people seem to think that even adults should not be allowed to use drugs if they choose to. Some people think that alcohol and tobacco should be completely banned. I am not one of those people. I don’t think governments should tell people how to live their lives even more than they already do. I would like to see more things legalised instead of more things banned or restricted.

I didn’t wait to become an adult just so society can treat me like a child for the rest of my life. My family brought me up to make my own decisions and that is what I will do. Probably I will make some mistakes and have some problems because of that, but I would rather it be that way than live like a sweet, unthinking robot for the rest of my life. So in fact, smoking is sort of a symbol of my attitude to life.

 

Smoking. Habits, Addiction and Fetish.

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This is a post to address a number of questions people have put to us (especially to Tina) recently. Some of it covers ground we have covered before and some may be new information for the curious…

Lets start with the fetish aspect. We are aware that a number of people with a smoking fetish follow our blog. That’s fine. We are all grown ups here and we regard the smoking fetish as a fairly harmless one. We all find and understand that smoking can sometimes look sexy. Cassie and I (Sophie) would probably go as far as to admit to a degree of fetishism about our own attraction to smoking. I don’t think that is really the case with Tina so far…

(Tina:- I don’t think I have ever been attracted to somebody just because they smoke but I doubt if I could have a long term relationship with somebody that didn’t smoke, especially if they didn’t like me smoking).

Having said that; while we are fairly open about all things related to smoking here, we are cautious and private about some things. There are a few pictures of us around the site but they are all photoshopped to some degree. Most of the photos here were found around the web. We have no objection to those with a smoking fetish using their imagination in relation to images found here, but we will always keep a certain distance. Moreover none of us will ever enter into private communication with anyone we only know through this site.

(Tina:- Alpha mother has spoken!)

Addiction;- By Cassie

There is no escaping the fact that the three of us who contribute to this blog are all nicotine addicts. Neither is there much doubt that anybody who smokes regularly is highly likely to become addicted to nicotine. Having any form of addiction is a potential problem. However, not all addictions are the same and not all people cope with or overcome addiction in the same way. This may seem obvious, but the point is that the three of us and many others have chosen to smoke even knowing that we will become addicted as a result. I would argue that while obviously not healthy, addiction to nicotine is not in the same league as addiction to hard drugs like heroine or cocaine and is probably not as immediately dangerous to the self or others as alcohol addiction can be. With smoking the addictive element is to some degree part of the pleasure; satisfying that craving for a cigarette, no matter how mild that craving is, brings an immediate and enjoyable sensation. I guess that is part of why we continue to smoke.

Of course if you want or need to stop smoking for health or other reasons and you find that you can’t because your addiction is too strong, that is a serious problem. The truth is that some people struggle with nicotine addiction more than others. I think strength of will power is a key factor but it is not the only factor. I believe I could stop smoking quite easily if I wanted to but apart from a few experimental occasions where I stopped for a week or so (with no intention of stopping permanently) I have never really put myself to the test. Sophie stopped smoking completely for several years when she became pregnant and during the time she was breast feeding. She doesn’t think she would have too many problems if she wanted to stop again. But who knows? Tina is young and has never tried to stop and has no desire to at the moment. However, she is convinced that if and when she decides to have a family she will stop smoking during pregnancy and the early years of her children. How easy she will find that we just don’t know, but she is VERY strong willed!

Our Smoking Habbits:- by Tina

Cassie usually smokes Marlboro Gold or Camel Blue. My mother and I usually smoke Parisienne. But we all share each other’s and like a change from time to time. I think we all smoke about the same amount at the moment which would be about 15 a day. (I smoke less than that during the week but more at weekends). At our home we are allowed to smoke in our bedrooms and in a room which goes off the kitchen and has a balcony. We try to keep the rest of our apartment smoke free except sometimes when we have guests who smoke. We open windows and ventilate the whole place and mother (Sophie) is anal about keeping everything clean and fresh. I think it is possible that some visitors would hardly know that we all smoke.

We all like our breakfast time cigarettes with coffee in the morning. My favourite cigarettes of the day are during the first break at school when I catch up with friends and anytime I go out with friends to a cafe or bar. Sophie’s favourite cigarette of the day is when she gets home from work in the late afternoon and has a glass of wine.  Cassie says she really enjoys smoking in bars or cafes because it isn’t allowed in many places anymore.

We had a little discussion about this and decided that in some ways our favourite cigarettes are the ones you don’t notice when you are with friends in some sort of social situation and you kind of smoke and talk and laugh and feel totally relaxed. Of course we always smoke when we are drinking too.

We all smoke regular length cigarettes most of the time. My mother and Cassie sometimes smoke longer length cigarettes or even cigars. I don’t. For somebody my age I think that would look ridiculous and pretentious. I hate people who pretend to smoke or who just have one or two cigarettes at a party to look “cool”. I have much more respect for people who don’t smoke than for people who are just trying to pose. Smoke or don’t but don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

Our First Cigarettes

 

Cassie

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Both my parents were occasional smokers although they seldom smoked much in the house. I always thought that I probably would start smoking one day but I wasn’t in much of a hurry about it. There was no taboo about smoking in my family, but my parents always advised that it would be better not to start. The only rule they made concerning it was a kind of age limit. “Once you’re sixteen you can make your own decisions about things like that; but not before…”

It all seemed quite reasonable and I was a fairly reasonable and well behaved daughter. However while I was 15, a lot of my friends started smoking and I felt a bit left out. They often offered me cigarettes and I always said no. It felt boring. The reason was not so much a feeling of obligation to my parents minimal rule, but more to do with vanity. I didn’t want to cough and splutter over my first cigarette in front of my friends. So one day I resolved that by the next time somebody offered me a cigarette I would be a proficient smoker!

One Saturday afternoon when my parents were out I went and bought a packet of Silk Cut (nobody in the shop questioned me as I could easily have passed for a couple of years older), took them home and started smoking. I didn’t cough nearly as much as I thought I might during my first cigarette when I was just taking the smoke into my mouth and blowing it out again. Twenty minutes later I had my second cigarette and this time practiced inhaling the smoke. I did cough a bit that time, but carried on anyway. Overall I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and sensation of smoking and the little nicotine kick that came with it. A couple of hours and about four cigarettes later I did begin to feel slightly sick and dizzy, but I didn’t mind. The following afternoon I went out for a walk and smoked a few more cigarettes. There was no sickness or dizziness and I genuinely enjoyed them. I was hooked.

During the next few months I smoked regularly when I was out with my friends. I wanted to tell my parents but felt awkward about bringing it up. I didn’t really want it to be a secret though so I started leaving half empty packets of cigarettes around my room and other places that my parents were likely to find them, hoping that they would bring the subject up. They never did.

Soon it was my sixteenth birthday. In the evening my parents took me out for a nice meal in a posh Italian restaurant. After the meal we ordered some more wine (technically in the UK I was still under age for drinking alcohol but I had been drinking wine with meals since I was about 12 and apparently the waiter didn’t realize I was only 16) and at that point my parents took out a packet of cigarettes and began to light up. This was my opportunity. I started looking in my handbag for my own cigarettes but they weren’t there. I must have looked flustered. Suddenly my Mum leaned across the table offering her pack of cigarettes and said “Do you want one?” as if it were the most normal thing in the world. “Emm…Yes please.” I replied a little nervously.

For the first minute or so I felt very self conscious smoking in front of my parents. But soon I relaxed and it felt normal. They had obviously known about my smoking for some time and had been waiting for me to say something about it. We joked about it. And as we sat there smoking and sipping wine I really felt as if something had changed. I was still their daughter and always would be; but now I was their grown up daughter and could relate to them in a new way. It felt good, and still recalls to me happier family times… .

I have been a smoker since that time. The majority of my friends have always been smokers. Smoking has always been a social and personal vice that I have enjoyed. For the most part of the last twenty years smoking isn’t something I thought much about, it was just part of what made me, me; like dying my hair, having an interest in philosophy and the occult, having tattoos, hanging out with bands, enjoying breakfast in bed on days off… It is only in the last few years while smokers rights have been limited all over the world that my smoking has become something I am conscious of, and I suppose defensive about.

SOPHIE

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Smoking was kind of the norm when I started. My mother was a heavy smoker who has since quit. My father only smoked cigarettes when he was stressed but often smoked cigars in the evening and at weekends. I liked the smell of his cigars. I used to smoke cigarettes at weekend parties when I was about 14. To be honest I don’t think I can remember the very first cigarette but I don’t ever remember not liking them… I do remember practicing different ways to smoke with my girlfriends so that I could look like a French actress and impress the boys! I think my smoking habit began early but slowly and gradually. In those early years it probably was only a handful of cigarettes at the weekend and on the way to school. When I was about 15 I had to get a note from my parents giving me permission to use the smokers area at school which in a strange way made my status as a smoker official. By the time I went to university at 19 I was regularly smoking a pack a day.

I continued smoking until I was 24. When I found out I was pregnant I gave up straight away without much difficulty. To be honest I never worried much about the health risks to myself from smoking although of course I knew about them. To me that was my choice. But I didn’t feel I had the right to impose my health choices on my child. I still believe that and would encourage anyone to give up smoking if they are planning a family. I didn’t have a single cigarette all the time I was pregnant or for about a year later. But then, pretty soon after I had finished breast feeding I started again and have been smoking ever since. I am glad I know the pleasure of a cigarette together with a cup of coffee or a few glasses of wine. Am I less fit and healthy than if I didn’t smoke? Who can say. I doubt that I would be any happier as a non smoker though.

Tina

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It’s annoying when your parent’s stories are better than your own! Anyway… To be honest I never thought that i wouldn’t smoke. I was bound to be a smoker. Some will say it is because everybody in my family smokes and most of my friends and the people I like, and I suppose there is some truth in that but I think i would have started smoking anyway.

The first time I ever tasted a cigarette was when I was about nine or ten. My mum went to answer the door and left a cigarette burning in the ashtray. While she was out of the room I had a quick puff. I hated it! It made me cough and feel a bit sick. I didn’t try again until I was about 12. This time I was at a party with some friends. Somebody had bought some cigarettes and we all tried them. This time I quite liked it but most of the others didn’t. During the next year or so I became friends with some older girls who all smoked and I used to smoke with them at their houses and in cafes and on the way to school. Although I wasn’t smoking very much, it was regular and I knew I wasn’t going to stop. That’s why I decided to tell my mother. I was frustrated about not being able to smoke at home. I was nervous when I told her because I wasn’t quite sure how she would react but I thought it would be childish to sneak around smoking behind her back. Luckily, as readers of this blog will know, Sophie is quite wise for a mother and everything was okay. I know that she respected me for telling her and I think it was kind of the beginning of a more grown up relationship between us. Actually she got some criticism for it which I thought was unfair.Anyway the result is that while a lot of my friends can’t talk to their parents about anything serious, I tell my mother almost everything and her advice is usually good.

(This is an edited version of an older post with Tina’s part added).

Cigarette Cases

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Lets start a trend!

In order to avoid the kind of death and illness pornography we spoke of in our last post the three of us have started using Cigarette Cases. We have already started a mini collection.

There are all sorts of cases available from very cheap ones made of card or plastic which cost less than a few euros each to very expensive jewelled cases which can cost thousands in any currency. There are a few of the expensive ones that we might like to get one day but the cheap ones are fun to start with. Some of them have little gadgets attached or have a compartment to keep your lighter. Some are made of leather and are combined with purses, wallets or phone covers.

Back in the 1920s such things were very fashionable. Perhaps it is time to popularise them again. They stop us smokers having to look at grotesque pictures of sick and dying people every time we want a cigarette. Of course it means we don’t have to inflict those awful pictures on our non smoking friends either just because we are carrying cigarettes around with us.

Also as there are so many types and designs to choose from they are kind of fashion accessories that can express your personality.

Can you guess which of these belong to which one of us? (Sophie,Cassie,Tina).

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What if?

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WARNING. This is not a pretty post. It is only for adults who have a strong stomach.

What if you enjoyed a potentially dangerous sport such as rock climbing or mountain climbing? What if there were huge advertising posters at every conceivable entrance to a climbing route that looked something like this…

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Caught on camera just before she died.

What if every piece of safety equipment you purchased had to prominently display a photo like this?

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What if every young person taking up gymnastics and their parents were forced to view this photo before signing a consent form?

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What if every car in the showroom was forced by law to have this image displayed on the roof and doors?

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What if every bottle of wine or can of beer had to carry a warning about the dangers of drunk driving and was legally required to ensure that the following photo occupied half the space on the label…?

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What if every convenience food containing a certain amount of sugar was forced to display the following image together with a warning about diabetes?

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No?

Sick?

Disgusting?

Immoral?

Repulsive?

Again sick?

Then why should adults across the world who perfectly legally choose to smoke cigarettes be subjected to the following every time they exercise their right as informed consumers to purchase cigarettes?

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Indeed it is sick and it should be ended.

Written health warnings ok. Disgusting photos no. Not unless everybody who chooses to take on some risk in their life is subject to the same lack of humanity and sensitivity.

Marlboro Advertising In Germany

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Here in Switzerland the politicians recently voted NOT to ban or further restrict tobacco advertising. The health lobby were pretty angry but I think most people were generally in favour of the decision. Advertising here is of course limited in relation to how it used to be. It is not allowed in magazines or on T.V. but in most cantons it is allowed on posters and advertising hoardings, in tobacconists and in some special events such as clubbings, music, cultural and even sports events.

Switzerland is outside the EU so some legislative restrictions on smoking are less strict here or ignored completely. I am therefore surprised that right at the heart of the EU, Germany still hasn’t banned cigarette advertising hoardings. I’m not quite sure how they manage that, but obviously cigarette companies are making the most of it.

Germany is however starting to sell cigarettes in virtually plain packaging (though not so draconianly plain as in the UK or Australia). The new cigarette packs in Germany have substantially larger and more prominent health warnings and nasty photographs but there is still a hint of the brand logo which will not be the case in stricter regimes. In case branding becomes banned altogether the tobacco companies are using advertising hoardings as fully as possible to create and keep brand loyalty.

As might be expected, Marlboro are ahead of the game. Their latest campaign “You Decide” has done all that a good advertising campaign should do; it has created interest and controversy. People are talking about it even here in Switzerland. And for the most part, the response has been positive. It has hit a nerve. It’s simple message can be interpreted in many ways but for those of us who smoke, and even for non smokers who have libertarian leanings, it is as if Marboro is reminding us that we are free agents who can make our own choices.

l am sure Marlboro are as corrupt and heartless as any other major multinational company. But I do quite admire them for this campaign. It is as if somebody is fighting back on our behalf. Marlboro have never forced me to smoke their brand or to smoke at all, but many governments and health fascists have been trying to force people like me to stop smoking for decades. This latest slogan from Marlboro has become something of a battle-cry for those of us who want the right to live as we choose and not all be clean living sheep without an original thought in our heads.

You decide.

That is a right and a freedom that is being stripped away from adults all over the world; not just in respect of smoking of course, but in many areas of lifestyle and politics. And always the people who deprive us of our right to choose think they are doing it for our benefit, because they are better and cleverer than us and we should all be like them.

But no. You decide.

The other slogans attached to the You Decide campaign are also quite deep and provocative.

Will the world know your name?

Is the sky the limit?

Will you stay real?

Is up the only way?

What’s your next move?

Is freedom a state of mind?

These all seem to be questions about individualism; something that society has forgotten to value but which is very important in our family at least. So the Marlboro ads resonate with us. I smoke Marlboro Gold quite often but none of our family are regular Marlboro smokers. Tina, the youngest smoker in our family, usually smokes Parisienne but these Marlboro advertisements have scored a goal with her. “I feel like we should support Marlboro on this,” She told me, “Because they are saying something that should be said. And they are making people think.”

Why I Smoke and why I want to write for this blog

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I’m Tina. When my mother and Cassie started this blog I was 13 and I was already smoking cigarettes occasionally. It started as just one or two cigarettes with friends at parties and gradually built up. After a while I was smoking quite regularly although still only a small amount. Now I am sixteen and by this stage I am smoking quite a lot; at least ten cigarettes each day and sometimes quite a lot more. Nicotine is very addictive I must admit I am totally addicted. If anybody reading this does not want to smoke the best way is to never start.

However, I did want to. I knew I would get addicted. I also know that smoking can damage my health, it can make me less fit and one day I might die of cancer or another disease that is connected with smoking. But even knowing all this, I always wanted to smoke and now that I do I like it very much. I will smoke until I get pregnant and have a family. Then I will stop. It will not be easy to stop because I like it very much and of course I am addicted. But my mother stopped when she was pregnant with me and I have just as strong will power as she does. So there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that when I decide to have a family I will stop smoking. I don’t know if I will start smoking again when my children are older. Perhaps not.

But for now I really enjoy smoking and I am glad I live in a place where I am still allowed to decide these things for myself.

I am sixteen. I know that is not very old and I still have a lot of growing up to do. But while I might only be a young adult, I am in fact an adult and not a child. That is what the law says in respect of many things and it is how I feel. I have serious studies and exams to think about. I could get a job if I wanted to. In some places I could join the military. I do have a boyfriend and a sex life. So with all these things in mind it seems ridiculous to me that in some places I wouldn’t even be allowed to buy cigarettes, let alone smoke them!

I think that in order to grow up and grow as a person you have to be allowed to decide things for yourself. Taking some choices away just stops people thinking for themselves. I want the freedom to be myself. I don’t want to be a Disney Princess, I want to be something very different than that. I want to be a person who smokes and drinks and has tattoos and piercings and does things that other people disapprove of. And at the same time I want to be one of the best students in whichever university I go to, I want to be one of the top vets in Europe and, when the time is right, a good and kind mother. I think that is possible. I know who I am and what I want to be.

And that is why I want to contribute to this blog. Smoking is just a small detail in some people’s lives but to me it is kind of symbolic. I feel like there are powers in this world who want us all to conform to some kind of sickly, whiter than white, Disney image of what a good person should be. I could never be that and I would never want to be that; and I don’t think I am alone. When my parents started smoking and when Cassie started smoking I guess some people didn’t like it, but at least they were allowed to make that choice. And they were allowed to choose what brand they liked and see what other brands were available. Well those choices are being taken away from my generation and I don’t think it is right. I don’t think somebody who has never met me has the right to say how I should live my life. Being an adult is new for me and I admit some of the decisions I will have to make about things now are quite mind blowing, but I don’t want the possibilities to make my own decisions taken away before I even get started. What will be next? Will they make smoking completely illegal? Will I be called a criminal just because I smoke? And then what? Maybe they will decide we are all too stupid to decide for ourselves what we should eat or what we should drink or what music we should listen to… Well let’s face it, maybe we are too stupid to know what political party to vote for; so they could just remove some choices to make it easier for us!

No; I smoke. It is already part of who I am and it is a symbol of my attitude to this world and this life. I think this blog is important because here you have three people who refuse to be sheep and just follow the line. We smoke because we like the taste, the feel and the sensations that come from smoking. We also tend to like other people who smoke. We know we are taking a bit of a risk with our health but we are okay with that. We have this little corner on the web to say things that a generation ago you could say anywhere but now it’s not “politically correct”. Maybe we just want to talk about what brands we prefer and stuff like that without other people saying “Oh you shouldn’t say that out loud, smoking is bad you know!” And maybe we want to complain a bit about the fact that smokers have less and less rights because the ones who want everyone to be a Disney Princess and have perfectly white teeth are in control. (Actually my teeth are perfectly white and it really annoys me)!

I think people my age should rebel a bit more, not about stupid things but about the ways we are all under pressure to be the same, to like the same things, to have the same opinions and values… The problem is the people with power are clever, they take away options and alternatives before you even know they exist.

Anyway I will do my best to be the person I want to be and help others to do the same. If you agree with me on that you might like some of the things you read here even if you don’t smoke. Yes, smoking is the main theme of this blog but on another level I think it is about allowing people the freedom to be and express themselves.

We wish smokers would be more rebellious!

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We don’t write in this blog very often and to be honest we have some moral worries about what we write here. Sophie and I are adults who choose to smoke. Smoking has been part of our lives since we were teenagers and it would be fair to say that the fact that we smoke is a part of our identity and perhaps a physical manifestation of some of our character traits and inner philosophy. We accept that there are health risks attached to smoking but we are libertines and we believe very strongly that adults should have the right to make their own lifestyle choices. We started this blog as a voice for people who share that view and actually enjoy smoking. We also felt and still feel that the momentum of the anti-smoking lobby has got too much and that the increasing restrictions on smokers are wrong, unfair and unbalanced. What we didn’t particularly want to do was to encourage anybody to start smoking and certainly not give the impression that smoking was a habit that was healthy or free of serious risks to health. Hopefully we have managed that but since we admit to being fans of smoking on a personal level, it is a difficult line to walk. Moreover, our own daughter is now smoking regularly and we cannot deny that in some ways we may have influenced her in that. So perhaps the easiest way to avoid controversy and the charge of leading people into bad habits is to just shut up and say no more on this blog…

But clearly that is not what we decided. A long while ago I wrote a post about the time that I “officially” started started smoking. Well, at least it was the first time I smoked in front of my parents and it happened when we went out to celebrate my sixteenth birthday. I was reminded of that recently when Sophie, Tina and I went out for a meal to celebrate Tina’s 16th. Tina has been smoking off and on for about a year or more and Sophie has written already about Tina’s campaign on behalf of the smokers at her school… So when we went out for her birthday meal her smoking was no secret or surprise. But because I recalled the time when I started smoking we began talking about the subject and Tina was shocked by the suggestion that Sophie and I might stop writing this blog. After a while she convinced us not only to continue with this blog but also to let her become a regular contributor to it. I think she is going to bring some new energy with her! And with that I am going to hand over to Tina for her first official post as one of the authors of this blog…  (Cassie)

Hello, it’s Tina writing now… The first thing I want to say is that if anybody starts smoking just because I do or because my mother (Sophie) or Cassie does, then they are stupid. Or to put it another way, whatever happens to them is their responsibility not ours. Considering their philosophy, sometimes my mum and Cassie are too nice or too considerate for their own good! Everybody is an individual and everybody is responsible for their own choices. Just because we like smoking doesn’t mean the people who read this blog can blame us if they have some nasty consequences because of their smoking. We might die of cancer or heart disease one day. But still for the time being we decide to smoke because we like it and whatever anybody else decides, it is their business not ours.

Cassie and my mother both started smoking when they were about the same age as I am now. Back in those days, from what they have told me, it wasn’t such a big deal. A lot more people smoked. Cigarettes were much cheaper. There were more brands to choose from. You could see advertisements for cigarettes in magazines and newspapers, on billboards and posters and even still in the cinema. You could smoke in most cafes, bars and restaurants. You could smoke in trains and buses. You could still smoke in some cinemas and theaters. And in my country you could smoke in school during the break times. It was all normal. I guess it wasn’t very nice for non smokers in some places and maybe if smokers and businesses had been a bit more responsible then and had made it easier for non smokers to have places to go where they didn’t have to smell cigarette smoke, things today wouldn’t be so bad now. But now it has gone too far!

I’m lucky that I live in Zurich where our laws aren’t so bad as in a lot of places, but even here there are less and less places where you are allowed to smoke and more and more restrictions on who can buy tobacco and how it can be sold. In Cassie’s home country (United Kingdom) they are beginning to only sell cigarettes in plain packaging where you can hardly even see the name of the brand you want to buy and there are just disgusting pictures of people with cancer. Recently I read that in California they are going to make it illegal to buy cigarettes until you are twenty one! How ridiculous is that?? At sixteen here in Switzerland I can have sex and maybe even get married, in most countries I could leave school and get a job and pay taxes, in some places I could vote in elections, I could drive a motorbike or maybe even a car in some parts of the world, I could join the military and die for many countries;- but in California I wouldn’t be allowed to buy cigarettes! That is insane!

And when all these restrictions started it seems like smokers just accepted it. Maybe smokers thought it was only fair that non smokers should have more rights. Maybe they thought that because smoking can have bad health consequences it wasn’t such a bad thing to make it a bit more difficult for people to smoke. But maybe they didn’t realize how far things would go and eventually all their rights to smoke would be gone.

When Cassie and my parents were the age I was now they were allowed to make the adult choice to smoke or not. For me and for people of my generation that right is being taken away. For future generations it will be even worse. So all the sheep will have the same choices to be good little sheep! I wish smokers of the past and smokers now would be a bit more rebellious.

Nobody would accept it if you couldn’t tell the difference between one brand of beer or another. Nobody would accept it if all cars had to be the same shape and be painted with pictures of what can happen to you in an accident or what damage you are causing the environment. Nobody would accept it if tattoos were made completely illegal until you were twenty one and even then everybody had to have exactly the same tattoo. Maybe you should be twenty one before you eat a McDonalds (with all that unhealthy fat) and even then you should not be allowed to see the difference between McDonalds and Burger King…

Well smokers are consumers and I think we should have the same consumer rights as anybody else and I am pretty angry that the smokers before me didn’t protest enough when their rights were being taken away. And now they are doing the same to vapers. Well I smoke and vape so I feel like it is an attack on my life choices.

So I think smokers and vapers should start getting organised and should protest more. We shouldn’t be treated as second class people just because we smoke and vape. It is time to start fighting back!

Putting Things In Perspective

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I’m Tina. I’m the 15 year old girl who smokes. Shock! Horror! Seriously, if you really are that much shocked or horrified you really need to get a life!

My mother has written a couple of articles here about the fact that I smoke. She got mixed feedback about it. We left some of the more normal replies up but there were a few that weren’t “normal”. There were a few that were insulting and abusive to my mother. We deleted them. For quite a while I wanted to write a reply about it but my mum said no. But I showed her the text for this and she agreed I could post it. If you disagree with anything I say here you are free to say what you want as long as it is polite and not abusive.

If I am going to say anything here it should be honest, so here I go… It is not really unusual for people my age to smoke where I live. About half my friends who are the same age as me smoke. Before you think it, I don’t smoke just because they do! I will try to explain why I smoke a bit later. I will admit that by now I do smoke a bit more and a bit more regularly than most people my age. During school days I smoke about 5 or 6 cigarettes in the day. At weekends I smoke more because I meet my friends in cafes where you can smoke and I sometimes go out in the evening. Also my boyfriend smokes. So to tell the truth, I smoke a whole pack at the weekends or sometimes more.

I am lucky in some ways that I have two sets of parents. I live with my mum and her partner Cassie and they both give me an allowance. My Dad also gives me an allowance. On Saturdays I have started working in a shop and i get paid for that. I also sometimes do volunteer work in a zoo for which I don’t get paid. But all this means I have enough money to do the things i want. Actually I save most of my money but I still have enough to buy two packets of cigarettes in a week and pay for coffees and clothes and go out. Plus I get cigarettes from my boyfriend and from my family sometimes too.

So why do I smoke? Good question! I know it can be unhealthy, but I will tell you what I think about that later… Well, I always thought I would smoke. I could blame my mum and dad and cassie because they smoke but that would not be fair. I can’t prove it, but I know for sure I would have smoked even if they didn’t. I always wanted to. I never thought “I wonder if I will start smoking”. I always thought “I wonder when I will start smoking”. I admit I kind of like the image part of it. But I would never do anything just for image. The simple thing is I just like the feeling of smoking. One day I was at a party with some friends. Cigarettes were being offered around. I took one. I was a bit nervous because I always thought I would smoke but suddenly I thought, “Shit, what happens if I hate it?!” Luckily I didn’t hate it. I knew in that moment that I would be smoking regularly from that time on. If my mum had forbidden me, it would have complicated my life but I would probably still have smoked. I’m glad I didn’t have to lie to her. Funnily enough, it isn’t really the taste of smoke that is the best thing at first; it is just the feeling it gives you. There is nothing like it. Then after a while of experimenting you get to know the tastes of different brands and the ones you like best.

Maybe you think I’m just a silly rebellious teenager who is going through a trend or a phase. Well that just isn’t true. I think my mum would say I am pretty well behaved as far as is possible for teenagers! I hate following fashions and acting like a sheep. I am a bit shy most of the time. I like school and I’m a good student. I work pretty hard on my studies. I used to feel a bit young for my age and then suddenly for some reason I overtook a lot of people and now i would say I am more mature than average for my age. I will admit that smoking makes me feel a bit more grown up. Is that wrong? I don’t know. I don’t really see why it should be.

One thing about smoking I have realized is that it feels like part of me. It feels natural. If I have a morning when I can’t smoke i feel grumpy and bad tempered. Maybe I am a little bit addicted already but to be honest I like that feeling. Being addicted doesn’t mean you can’t stop; it just means it would be more difficult to stop if you wanted to. I don’t want to. I think we all have an idea of who we are. I always knew I would smoke. Just like I always knew that one day I will get tattoos. I know the kinds of places I will hang out in, the kind of people I will like, the kinds of things i will do, the kinds of job I will do. The kind of person i will be… And smoking is part of that, and it is completely my choice.

I seriously don’t care at all about it being unhealthy. It is frightening to think I could get cancer. I know the chance is higher because I smoke. And probably like my mum and dad and cassie I will be smoking for a long time…  I just think it is stupid to not do things because of what might happen one day in the distant future. If you think I’d feel differently if I knew somebody who had cancer you are wrong. I have known a few…

It is more about how I see life. Some people think we live more than once; that we get reincarnated many times… I don’t know. It’s a nice idea but I am not convinced it is true. I think we can only be sure about this one life we have now. Probably this is the only chance we get. So here is what I think. We don’t know how long we will live. I could be a very good person, never drink, never smoke and always stay healthy and still a bus could crash into me or a meteorite could land on my house and kill me! We just don’t know. There are no guarantees. But it is a bit deeper than that. Last year I saw a picture of a tiny little boy who was a refugee and he got washed up dead on a beach. That was his life! His short and sad life… There are some children born in Africa who will die of illness or because there is no food before they become teenagers. There are some children in my own country who will be born into abusive families and will get beaten or even raped all the time. That is their life and it is very sad.

I am lucky to be safe, healthy and happy for now and live in a country where there are not many problems. While I have this luck I will make the most of it and do all the things I want to do while I can. I think it would be insulting to those who don’t have the chance of doing all these things if i just tried to be safe and well all the time so I could live as long as possible. I don’t believe anything or anybody is totally good or evil but I do care about people and animals and i will do a job that helps them. But I will also smoke and drink and probably do other things that people don’t think are right. It’s my life!

If you want to write something here saying that my logic and reasoning are all wrong and smoking is a terrible thing and i should be more sensible, please go right ahead. But not until you feel strongly enough to also write something about refugee children dying at sea, people starving to death in Africa, animals being hunted to extinction and global warming making the future dangerous for everyone.

People need some perspective.