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

 

 

 

 

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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.

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!

Stupid Canadians and Worried Austrians

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A typical cal scene in an Austrian cafe (above)

From BBC NEWS>. [A Canadian court has ordered three tobacco companies to pay C$15.5bn (£8bn; $12bn) – the largest award for damages in the country’s history.
The plaintiffs were Quebec smokers who said the firms failed to warn them of health risks associated with smoking.
Imperial Tobacco Canada, Rothmans Benson & Hedges and JTI-MacDonald vowed to appeal against the decision.
The class-action lawsuits were filed in 1998, but only recently went to trial in the courts.
The firms argued that Canadians have had a “high awareness” of smoking health risks since the 1950s.
“That awareness has been reinforced by the health warnings printed on every legal cigarette package for more than 40 years,” JTI-Macdonald said in a statement.
But the plaintiffs argued that the companies did not properly warn their customers and failed in their general duty “not to cause injury to another person”, according to the Quebec Superior Court decision.} link http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32969338

Good grief! How can anybody not know the health risks associated with smoking in this day and age? I know not all Canadians are stupid but this particular group of people must have been. If only the notion of personal responsibility were as popular as the notion that governments should legislate to enforce health and lifestyle choices on others.

What if the victims of road traffic accidents started a class action against car manufactures because they hadn’t been made sufficiently aware that if they stepped out in front of a car they might get hurt? Or maybe climbers who fall from mountains should sue the local authorities for not warning them strongly enough that climbing mountains can be risky?

Meanwhile in Europe Austrian smokers who have successfully avoided or gotten round most of the smoking bans in the last decade have been warned that from 2018 smoking will indeed be banned in all public places. Austria has been called “The Ashtray of Europe” because of its high percentage of smokers and its refusal to bow down to European anti smoking legislation. Interestingly however it is one of the healthiest places in Europe and has some of the lowest rates of “smoking related diseases. (Look up the statistics). I have spent many enjoyable hours in Viennese cafes chatting and reading while drinking coffee or wine and smoking at the same time in plush, comfortable surroundings. It would be such a shame to see that enjoyable characteristic element of Austrian lifestyle disappear. Is it too much to hope that the Austrians will continue to be quietly rebellious against the anti smoking Mafia?