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Stuff the Tobacco Companies – and while you’re at it, stuff the Catholic Church as well!

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!


9 comments

  1. johno

    Bravo and well done. I smoked too, though not for such harrowing reasons as yourself. Giving up took many tries but now I am free of the daily durry.

  2. Robert REYNOLDS

    Keith, I would like to say that you have my very, very best wishes for success in your endeavors against both the Catholic Church and beating the nicotine habit. There will no doubt be challenges ahead but good luck with each of them. You will be pleasantly surprised by the number of people who will wholeheartedly support you.

  3. Ricardo29

    I want to also express my best wishes for all of the trials you will go through. After a number of attempts I finally went cold Turkey in 1989 but it was a long time before I made the transition from ‘giving up smoking’ to being a non-smoker. You also need to know that it is such an insidious drug that it stays in your subconscious for A very long time. Even today, 28 years on, I still have the occasional dream that I am smoking. I wake up with a vague sense of unease and then remember that it was just a dream, that I hadn’t actually broken this self-imposed abstinence. Actually I wonder if other reformed smokers go through this. I have recurring dream that I am smoking two cigarettes at the same time. I hope this doesn’t put you off because the benefits to both health and pocket are significant.

  4. Matters Not

    Gave up smoking soon after I retired nearly two decades ago. Till then it was 60 plus a day. Went cold turkey one Friday night and haven’t had one cigarette since. Best if you have the belief that you can do anything – beat any addiction – but only if you really, really want to. Then it’s much easier.

    And yes I still have dreams that I have fallen off the wagon – but only rarely these days. The dollars that were wasted is a cause of much regret. Now if only I could give up on gambling. LOL.

  5. susan

    Good luck against the catholic church because if you are able to just dent them a little bit, quiting smoking will be a breeze.

  6. Harquebus

    My mother pulled me from religious education when I was 5 after the nuns had told me that, my family and I were going to hell which, upset me considerably. Dunno what for as I can only vaguely remember it but, my mother remembers it quite well. Now more than then I appreciate what she did.

    I gave up smoking nearly 30 years ago and it took a bad dream to make me want to do it.
    The dream: My mouth opened like Bart’s does when he is being strangled by Homer and out came the foulest smelling large demon of smoke that you can imagine. That was it. It freaked me out.

    Within a week I had my QUIT kit and had started on their advice which, among other things, was to practice saying no. It worked. The first day I cut down considerably and still smoked a packet of 25’s. Winfield Red. About a week later was my first cigarette free day and it was hard as anyone who has tried to give them up will agree.
    The second morning I wanted nothing more than to light up but, said to myself, “No. If I can go one day without a cigarette, I can go two.” and that was it. Haven’t smoked a cigarette since. It took about 3 days for the cravings to start easing. The occasional cravings that I sometimes felt later left me completely after about a year.

    I didn’t think that I could do it and was and still am proud of the achievement and don’t care that it took a bad dream to make me do it. Turned out that it was good for me dream.

    Congratulations to all those that have kicked the habit and to those who haven’t, it can be done.

    I am often at a loss for words when reading some of the personal stories of the abuse suffered by some here at theAIMN. What can one say?

  7. DrakeN

    Not continuing to smoke is a good move however you achieve it – but be very aware that Champix medication has very adverse effects on some people.
    There are reports of people developing symptoms of clinical depression, occasionally even leading to suicide.

  8. Photontrace

    Thank you. Your determination and defiance are inspiring to read and it is clear from what you have written that you feel compassion towards others who have been drawn into danger and harm. It is valuable to us all, to have your account of what you have learned and are still learning as the process goes on. I realise there are limitations on what you can write. Whenever you consider writing to the extent that is in your interests, please do. While of course the respect is there, it’s not just the respect, we actually need to pay attention to your experience and to learn from it. People who look the other way will be the poorer for it.

  9. Freethinker

    Good on you and my best wishes, I also was in a catholic boarding school in the late 1950″s and went trough physical abuse (no sexual)
    Yes, tobacco was a comfort and I smoked for more than 30 years.
    I managed to stop after changing for cigarettes to pipe and I am convinced that in the cigarettes are some additives to make the smoker hooked to them
    The pipe was easy to stop.

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