By Keith Davis
Smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia … A large proportion of these deaths were males (almost 13,000 deaths per year compared with 6,000 for females). In all age groups, except 15-34 years, more deaths were related to use of tobacco than to alcohol or illicit drugs.
OK, so here we go. I am a 65 year old Australian male, and all of my life, on and off, I have smoked cigarettes. I did not smoke them for the fun of it, I smoked them to meet a need. And the vendors of nicotine sure as shit welcomed me, and my need, with open arms.
What was my need? As a survivor of child sexual abuse in a Catholic orphanage in the 1950s and 1960s I have spent most of my life seeking any sort of comfort at a deep level. Any sort of comfort that would ameliorate the depth of hurt and outrage that I carried deep within my being. The advertised ‘soothingness’ of the old Marlbro Man cigarette advertisments drew me in like a lemming to a cliff face.
Recently I have instigated legal proceedings against the Catholic Church, and I cannot go into detail about that for all of the usual legal reasons. However, as part of the legal process, I spent some time with a forensic oriented psychiatrist – forensic in the sense that he looked at me, saw me, and described to me, in language that I could understand, that I just happened to be one of a reasonably small number of ‘survivors’ whose psyche was not totally rendered asunder by the awful experiences.
Believe me, I grasped onto that opinion with all of the strength of my hope and heart.
But he also mentioned that perhaps it would be in my best interest to stop smoking. Which, as you would expect, made me think about why I stick cancer sticks into my gob with gay alacrity on far too regular an occasion.
Do I blame the Tobacco Companies for the fact that I smoke? Of course not. They couldn’t give a crap about why anybody smokes – all they care about is THAT you smoke, and that you continue to buy their product. The Catholic Church gave me the need, and the purveyors of nicotine simply provided the handy product.
I am not an illusory beast and I am well aware that simple willpower alone will not defeat the addictive power that nicotine has over me. After the sessions with the psychiatrist, and I cannot begin to tell you the value those sessions had for me, I made the decision to no longer be a nicotine addict.
But I had to change my mindset. Apart from looking at the fact that ingesting huge quantities of a drug that were guaranteed to kill me, I also had to look at, and question, how our society sanctions this deadly drug.
Go into any Coles and Woolworths and right in front of you is the counter that sells cigarettes. Can anybody explain to me the moral justification of our supermarkets pushing this deadly drug?
So much of our police power and community angst is invested in the damage that Ice does to our communities. In comparison with the damage that the drug Nicotine does to our community, Ice, and please excuse or edit out the profanity, is a mere bloody minnow.
So. To end up. I have decided to not commit slow suicide by nicotine. I’ve decided to stop pouring tarry shit down my throat. Despite my appalling childhood experiences I have come to realise that my life has value, and my health is worth preserving.
So stuff cigarettes, stuff the Tobacco Companies (personally I think they should be tarred as criminals because of the damage they cause) … and, as you would expect from everything I have written … with bells on … stuff the Catholic Church!