In defence of Swiss Smokers

Post by Tina

Maybe this is repeating things we have said before and maybe it is a bit of a rant, but I don’t care! I am one of those terrible Swiss women who smoke cigarettes and recently I have got a bit fed up with non Swiss people attacking me and my country because we smoke.

I recently joined a forum for English speakers in Switzerland so I could practice my English a bit more, and almost immediately got into an argument with some foreigners about smoking. Anyone who knows me or my family through any of our blogs will know we are very international, and we generally like travel and respect foreigners. My second mum Cassie is English and I do a lot of work for refugees in Switzerland. And we are all well traveled and have friends in many parts of the world. But it kind of angers me that some foreigners living here in Switzerland seem to want us to stop being Swiss and adopt their cultural and personal beliefs about smoking.

We are Swiss; and it is true that we smoke quite a lot here. Smoking is part of our lifestyle and culture. Official government statistics suggest that about a third of adults over sixteen here smoke (which is apparently higher than in a lot of places). To be honest I think those statistics may be manipulated a bit by the government to make us look better in the eyes of the world. In truth I think maybe more than half of us smoke; and amoung the people I know it is more like two thirds.

And we are ok with that. But some of the foreigners living here take a different view… Here are some quotes I found on the forum. They are from people who come from Australia, England and The U.S.A. (I have taken all the names and any other identifying details out).

As an Australian the high smoking rate in Europe is one of the first things I noticed when we moved to Switzerland.In Australia, it has been illegal to smoke inside public buildings for more than 20 years. In the last few years the laws have been tightened significantly, you now cannot smoke within 100m of a public building or doorway. All hospital and school grounds are smoke free. You can’t smoke in restaurants, and in Canberra even if the restaurant has an outdoor area smoking it is forbidden. As a non-smoker, I have really struggled in Switzerland – even just waiting at the bus stop can be a problem with groups of people smoking while they wait. 

Well, you know… This is Switzerland not Australia; and it pretty much sounds like I would hate Australia. And if I hated not being able to smoke so badly I could always go back to Switzerland, but I wouldn’t expect the whole of Australia to change their lifestyles to suit me!

 

Personally, I think if someone wants to smoke and risk developing cancer, coronary artery disease, hypertension and all of the other health problems associated with it, then that’s their problem. But I strongly object to being exposed to it myself simply because I am walking behind them on the footpath, waiting next to them at a bus stop or sitting at a restaurant table.

Fact, not everyone who smokes gets any of those diseases you are so paranoid about. And of course some people who don’t smoke do get them. (Not because of passive smoking either). Sadly there actually aren’t many restaurants where you can smoke inside anymore, even here. People who are afraid of just smelling cigarettes from people smoking in the street really need to get a life and stop worrying so much!

But I must agree there is more of a smell of cigarettes in the street than you might find in some other places. It mixes with the smell of fresh bread, cheese and clean, flower scented air. For me it smells like home. Every place has it’s unique smells and customs, that is what travel reminds you. If people only ever want things to be the same as they are at home, maybe they should stay there.

I’m sorry if this sounds a bit rough, but when it comes to smoking, I really encourage smoker discrimination! Meaning, I’m not standing next to them, I’m not walking behind them, I’m not sitting outdoors drinking a coffee next to a smoker as long as they are puffing smoke all over the place. 

Good grief! Well don’t worry, there is no chance I would want to sit near you anyway!

Cigarettes are killers traveling in packs.

Oh funny! But seriously, with all the problems in the world, this is what you worry about?

Those Swiss women think they look so cool and sexy when they smoke but I think they look disgusting. Who would want to kiss an ashtray anyway?

That comment sounds so much like it comes from somebody who has never been kissed! They tried to have an anti smoking campaign here once which tried to make out that smoking wasn’t cool or sexy. All I can say is, the campaign was a huge failure! I have been told I look sexy when I smoke, and I find men and women who smoke quite attractive. As for kissing, nobody said I was disgusting up till now!

I just find it interesting that even considering the high cost of health insurance and doctors in this country, people still go and buy those darn things. And they are such good sellers too! 

Well an interesting point is that while our health insurance might be expensive, we have one of the healthiest and longest living populations in the world despite being a country of smokers!

Again, I am not against foreigners; my boyfriend is one! But I smoke and I like smoking and I’m Swiss and I like being Swiss. There are a lot of great things about America and Australia and Britain and other parts of the world, but I don’t want my country to be a copy of those places. We have our own culture and lifestyle and for many of us smoking is a part of that. For example we have a lot of specialist tobacco shops where you can buy good quality cigars. Smoking cigars is really a feature of life in some parts of the country. Both my Mum and Dad smoke cigars sometimes; especially after Sunday lunch. It is a kind of tradition. (I have tried but it is not my taste at the moment). But I do like cigarettes a lot.

Of course not everyone in Switzerland smokes but even the non smokers I know mostly think it is part of our lifestyle and we should have the right to choose and not be dictated to by other countries. We are quite independently minded here!

 

Please just let us be us.

Smoking in America and Europe

By Tina

I have recently been on a school exchange trip to New York, and then I stayed on for a few extra days with my family. I had been looking forward to the trip for a long time and it was very exciting and interesting. Of course I noticed lots of cultural differences between Switzerland and America but for this blog I am just going to talk about the different attitudes to smoking, but it does involve other things as well.
There were sixteen people in our group, aged between sixteen and nineteen plus two teachers who were about thirty years old. Altogether there were ten women and eight men. Twelve of us were regular smokers and another three were occasional smokers. So the first thing we noticed when we got off the plane after a very long journey was that it is very difficult to find anywhere you are allowed to smoke. Inside the airport it was impossible and even outside it was difficult to find a spot where people didn’t shout at us for smoking. Not the most friendly welcome considering we’d been about ten hours without a cigarette and some of us were a bit desperate!

We stayed with host families. My host family were lovely and very hospitable. The family consisted of a mother and father and two children a bit younger than me, the girl was 15 the boy was 13. Non of them smoked, which was okay and it would never have occurred to me to smoke in their home anyway. However, on the first day the father had a private chat with me and said he knew it was normal for Europeans to smoke but he would appreciate it if I never smoked in front of his children. I agreed of course.  Later that evening he gave me a key and an ashtray and showed me how to let myself out into a back ally behind their house so that I could smoke after the children had gone to bed!

It did make me feel a bit strange though, as if I had to lie and keep secrets from the children of my host family. Truthfully I never smoked in front of them, but of course they weren’t stupid and they knew I smoked. I got on well with the daughter and I found out that she did smoke sometimes. I felt like I was keeping secrets from everyone. It also seemed strange because when I was her age I was already smoking regularly and I didn’t have to keep it secret from my mother or my family; they just accepted it as part of growing up. I don’t think the daughter of the family felt comfortable about keeping her smoking secret from her parents, I think it just made a barrier between them in what was in all other ways an honest and loving family.

The subject of smoking came up in a class discussion we had at the exchange school in New York (well New Jersey actually, we were just across the border from New York City). This discussion made me see clearly the difference in attitudes to smoking we had compared with our American hosts. To sum it up we had the attitude that smoking “can” be bad for your health and that smokers are more likely to get some diseases, but that smoking is a lifestyle choice that has some advantages as well as the well known disadvantages. The Americans seemed to think that smoking was “always” bad for your health and that you will certainly die of a smoking related disease if you start smoking. Moreover they thought that only stupid, bad or rebellious people ever started smoking. They seemed a bit perplexed that we were not particularly stupid, bad or even rebellious!

One thing that seemed odd to me was that both at school and in our host families they didn’t seem to think it was odd that you could have a gun in the house, but they thought cigarettes were really dangerous!

Another thing that seemed odd to me was the political and philosophical attitudes. We will not mention Donald Trump, but generally in Europe we get the impression that Americans are (or think they are) more libertarian and individualistic than us. But when it comes to personal choice about smoking, it doesn’t seem that way. They seem determined that everybody should have the same opinion on that subject.

When the school part of the trip was over, Sophie and Cassie flew out to join me for some shopping and sightseeing for a few days. For that part, we booked into a hotel. I thought at least there we would be able to book a room where we were allowed to smoke. But it seems no such rooms exist anywhere in New York! Not only that, but there wasn’t even a smoking area in the hotel lobby. We had to go outside to smoke and even in the street there seemed to be lots of places where smoking was forbidden or where we got disapproving looks from people.

One evening my mother Sophie got into an argument with a total stranger about smoking. We had gone out to eat in a nice restaurant “downtown” and Sophie and I popped out for a cigarette in the street (because you couldn’t smoke in the restaurant obviously). This woman started talking to us but when she found out we were a mother and daughter she started criticising my mother for allowing me to smoke at all (I’m 17 FFS!) and she accused Sophie of being an evil woman who was leading her own daughter to death! I had to drag Sophie back inside before she could fully demonstrate her vocabulary of English swear words!

I suppose the Americans think they have the right attitude to smoking and that in Europe we have got it wrong. But even though I had a great time in the USA and really liked many of the people I met (especially my host family) I came away feeling very European and actually quite pleased to be European. It’s just my opinion but I think we are actually more grown up and more open minded over here. And I don’t think our lives are any shorter than the clean living, non-smoking Americans.

Smoking as Identity

I have realized that smoking is part of my identity. Recently I was looking for a photo to use as my avatar on another internet site and I realized that in nearly all recent photos of me, I am smoking. And I like those photos. There are also a few where I am not smoking but I would always chose the ones where I am smoking because they say something about me and the way I want to be seen.

When I am reading books or watching drama on TV I always find it easier to identify with the characters who smoke; they seem more real to me. There are things about the way smokers act,think and feel; things about our daily routine and our attitude to life that is different to non smokers.

I have discussed this with Sophie and Cassie and they feel the same. Cassie has been blogging for many years and I had a look back at some of her older blog entries (not this blog but ones about her daily life and beliefs) and it is amazing how many times she mentions that she smokes. She was a bit embarrassed when I pointed it out, but had to admit that it was true.

Sophie said that during the time she gave up smoking (because she had me!) she felt that something was missing from her life and her personality. When she decided that I was old enough that she could start smoking again without damaging my health, she said she felt like she was being her true self again.

When you smoke you develop a kind of relationship with cigarettes. They become part of who you are. Nicotine is part of my body chemistry now and cigarettes are part of my daily routine. One of the first things I do when i wake up in the morning is smoke a cigarette and smoking is one of the last things I do before bed. During the day my routine can be measured and punctuated by cigarettes.Of course, this could be seen as a very good reason not to start smoking. It is an addiction. It gets under your skin and becomes part of who you are. And all the time you have this cosy relationship with cigarettes you know, at some level, that this relationship could be very bad for your health. And yet, just as we sometimes choose lovers that other people disapprove of, or think are bad for us, we still choose to smoke. We still choose this relationship with cigarettes. The fact of making that choice must in a way say something about our personalities and so, our identities.

A photograph of me “not smoking” would be like a photograph of me with green hair; or me wearing a mask. Something about it would not be true. It would not convey my true self. It would not just be hiding something; it would be kind of a lie.

Of course I don’t smoke all the time. I’m not a chain smoker. If you added up all the waking minutes of the day, in most of them I would not be smoking.At this stage I usually smoke between ten and fifteen cigarettes in a day. But the truth is that the nicotine is in my system all the time. My body clock and my routine are strongly influenced by that.

The same is true for Sophie and Cassie. But there is something else that makes smoking part of our identities, and that is more psychological than physical addiction. It is the fact that if any one of us could go back to a time before we had started smoking;- back to our early teens or childhood even, we would always have been people who would be smokers one day. None of us ever doubted it. It was something we always liked. We were always drawn to other people who smoked. We always would have chosen a lifestyle that would have involved smoking cigarettes.

It is our taste. It is our choice. It is our lifestyle.

We choose the people we want to be. The choice to smoke (perhaps even more so now that it is banned in some places and looked down on by many) is a sign and symbol of the kind of people we are, of our priorities, of how we spend our time and money and perhaps how influenced we are by society and what parts of society influence us most.

And of course our addiction. The one we knowingly chose.

The fact that we smoke is therefore a strong part of our identities. Of course it doesn’t say everything about us. Perhaps it doesn’t say much really. But it says more than our natural hair or eye colour, and probably more than what clothes we choose to wear.

I am speaking here mainly about my family and myself, but I think the idea of smoking as part of identity applies to most people who smoke.

Tina

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

 

 

 

 

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.