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Saturday, December 29, 2007

No Smoking

Over the years, I have heard some strange justifications from people who smoke.
# It helps to release tension - is probably the mode of all excuses statistically ordered. Then follows:
# Cigarettes are more faithful then men/women. I am disillusioned with relations with human beings, I am having an affair with ciggies.
# The day I find someone I will quit.
# No one asks me to stop! No one really cares!
# It is cool ! ( A passé now )
# A ciggi is my act of rebellion.
# It keeps off the cold.
# I am not addicted! I can give up anytime I want.

Personally, I don't like to nurture any kind of enslavement. Maybe my control freak nature is an impediment. A 22 yr-old acquaintance of mine defends that it is no use drinking if you don't get drunk. I argue that I want to know when I am having a good time. Why turn oblivious?
The cool quotient in yesteryears might have been associated with a cigarette dangling from your lips. Fortunately, nowadays it is uncool to have unhealthy habits. ( If you excuse the 4 hours sleeping routine ). Most of the gym inhabitants are very particular about their diets too. I saw a chain smoker quit. He simply woke up one day and told his roommate 'I'm quitting' and he did. On the other hand, there's someone I know who has been trying since the past three years and has written a post about it. He left smoking for three days and bought a packet on the fourth day. Reason: 'Too much work pressure, I needed one.'


I observed a general trend here in US- women smoke more than men . Or maybe I noticed it more. The typical Indian mentality is that a girl who smokes is easy; hence, most Indian women prefer to smoke privately, careful not to send out wrong signals. I have also seen cigarettes being associated with a sense of power. A middle aged woman who's the HR Director of an IT firm with a huge market presence in India can never be seen without her favorite brand. It's awe aspiring in a way. It is not just because she smokes. She has a personality that is captivating. But the first thing anyone will mention while describing her is : She smokes a lot!

And who can forget Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct (1)? The classic scene: 'Have you ever f***ed on cocaine, Nick?' couldn't have been depicted as effortlessly by anyone else. The menace accompanying it is enhanced by the way she lits her cigarette. A silent threat meaning: 'Don't mess with me. I can overpower you.' So, is it the attraction for the darker side that attaches you to your 120mm long friend (if you are a smoker)? I don't know. But if you are pregnant or your girlfriend refuses to kiss you because you smell like smoked salmon, then it really is the time to quit :D

Photo courtesy: ucla.edu, sify.com, and us.movies1.yimg.com respectively.

22 comments:

backpakker said...

I agree with you..a friend of mine used to smoke even when pregnant and now cant give up..she has completely lost control..I think one should never be enslaved to anything ..by the way, wish you a very happy new year

ManojVasanth said...

Very Nice post to enlighten the people who are ready to get enlightened!!! :D

Have a great year ahead Aparna :)

Keep Smiling and Thanks

candid diary said...

Tobacco is the second major cause of death in the world. It is currently responsible for the death of one in ten adults worldwide (about 5 million deaths each year). If current smoking patterns continue, it will cause some 10 million deaths each year by 2020. Half the people that smoke today - about 650 million people- will eventually be killed by tobacco.
Argument placed by a smoker: Why do you bother? People also die due to car accidents, AIDS, cancer, terrorist acts and old age.
A friend of mine gave up alcohol and smoking for seven days and on the eighth day rewarded him with a pack of cigs (not with a few pegs of whiskey) for the awful restrain shown by him.
Moral: Giving up alcohol is easier than giving up smoking.

saikat said...

i completely agree with candid when he says that giving up alchohol is easier than smoking....in my life... i have seen quite a few cases of ppl quitting boozing for some reason or the other...but only 1 case of a guy quitting smoking and mind you, he was not someone who was a chain smoker...so might have been relatively easy for him

the xcuses you mentioned ant not being able to quit smoking are the most common which are given...also did you know , quitting smoking is the number one new year resolution made by ppl worldwide :|

Cheers!

Matangi Mawley said...

a v. sensible post!

happy new year!:)

arnab said...

The whole debate about smoking boils down to this - it is an addiction that is still socially acceptable and even encouraged in popular culture. As long as it is so, people will go to any extent to deny their addiction (because any addiction, after all, is considered a sign of weakness) and justify their behavior. Alcoholism is not socially accepted, and so you find lesser alcoholics in mainstream society; similar argument holds for almost every other addiction.

So when somebody observes that alcohol is easier to give up, they are missing the point that the subject in question was not addicted to alcohol in the first place, while an addiction to tobacco is so common that it goes unnoticed.

Starting today, France and most of German states are banning smoking in restaurants, cafes and bars. I would have been much happier if Saarland, the state I am living in, didn't decide to wait for a few more months before following suit. In US I never felt the need for a smoking ban as acutely as I did after moving to Germany. But it is good to see that things are moving in the right direction.

As for your observation, I don't think women in US or Europe smoke more than men; it's just that in India you don't see women smoking openly, and so it is the differential that makes it seem more common.

Anyway, have a nice smoke-free new year - Ich wünsche euch einen guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr :-)

coolpics said...

hi nice blog.
shall v exchange link backs.
http://cool-spotlight.blogspot.com

Saurabh said...

the fact as always....

winners quit when ahead and losers keep on saying.. i will try next time to quit.

dharmabum said...

what justification? i smoke coz i enjoy it, thats all. it is simple gratification.

oh, and if the girl friend refuses to kiss me coz i smell, it certainly is time to quit - whether to quit the smoke or the woman, is yet another question altogether :P

candid diary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
candid diary said...

Social acceptance is not anything absolute but a relative condition varying from society to society. We may go for some facts instead of all guesswork. There are some interesting conclusions in a study called “Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England in 2006”:- (1) For pupils aged 11 to 15 in England, 2006 - pupils are more likely to have ever drunk alcohol (55 per cent), than to have smoked (39 per cent) or tried drugs (24 per cent). (2) The proportion of pupils who have never smoked had risen to 61 per cent in 2004, and has remained at a similar level since. (3) Following the trend found in previous years, girls were more likely than boys to be regular smokers. (4) Older pupils were more likely to be regular smokers than younger pupils.
To see the full report please visit http://www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/sdd06fullreport. There may be similar studies in other social conditions. I am eager to know about such studies.
The argument that alcoholism is not socially accepted is not a reality in every society. So, the points to be focused could have been effects of smoking and alcohol on the nervous system, development of urge for tobacco or alcohol and which one is stronger.
You are from BioTech background and may find facts on effects of Nicotine on the nervous system interesting (http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/nic.html). Also statistics collected in this study showed that percentage of white, non-Hispanic women smokers in USA has remained steady (about 35%) from 1965 to 2000 whereas the percentages of smokers in other groups for the same period have fallen down. Your observation that US- women smoke more than men is very relevant here. About effects of alcohol on the brain here is a beautiful article.
To what extent do we want to damage our nervous system? Apna Apna Choice Hai Bhai. I refuse to be a passive smoking partner even of my seniors.

gunj said...

i really do wonder hw can sme1 enjoi smokin1
ive tried it n it sure sucks!

Sam said...

smoking is soemthing which i must say is a prevalent curse... its really tough quitting it once u r addicted to it.. i knw it.. for i've been thru it... tok it up.. quit.. again started.. and now again on the verge of quitting.. aware of my withdrawal symptoms... i'm cutting down on the count.. and from abt 20 have come down to 2-3 and intend to give it up before i'm through with this month.. its gradual and am able to cope better....
btw, have u observed that bong guys tend to smoke the most??
likewise i ahd heard that pune has teh most number of ciggies lit every minute in india (or was it teh world??).
anywyz, point it is.. it's so damaging... i can't sing for long now... cannot play tennis teh way i could a few years back... scuba is out of question!! all this prompted me to really go after that killer stick really hard!! i mean real hard... i've to quit!!

arnab said...

@candid: Thanks for the links, and sorry for not being more explicit in my previous comment. I was not trying to say that tobacco is less addictive than alcohol; in fact there are enough reasons to believe otherwise. But to say alcohol is easier to give up than tobacco, one needs to compare people who are addicted to both. One is far less likely to meet people addicted to alcohol than nicotine addicts - alcohol consumption merely is not a sign of alcoholism, the latter is strictly the addiction. My point was that the amount of smoking necessary to develop addiction is socially accepted, while the amount of drinking required for developing alcoholism is not - I have not come across a culture where getting inebriated is considered an acceptable behavior. Since there is also a physical limitation to alcohol consumption, and many people may never be able to drink enough to be alcoholics, it was probably not the best example. But if you compare smoking with drug use, the effect of social acceptance is starker.

The US studies you mentioned show that there are more male smokers than females, so I am not sure how you can derive "women smoke more than men" from that chart. Sure, less women seem to give up smoking, but there were also far less female smokers to start off with.

The NHS study in UK shows that more girls in the age group of 11-15 smoke than boys of the same age. Even in US more girls smoke compared to boys, although there are fewer women who smoke compared to men (http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic1642.htm). But that is a very specific demography, and it is interesting to ask why do we see the exception. The NHS study points to a few possibilities. One is what commonsense would tell you - girls are more likely to be given cigarettes by others. Another interesting fact is that more boys consider smoking makes them bad in sports. Anyway, something tells me that Aparna wasn't thinking about minors below legal smoking age when she made that comment.

BTW, a quick googling led me to this book http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/pubs/books/nicotine/index.htm
It is 10 years old, but has some interesting observations. Go to table 4.3 - it proves my argument that alcohol is not easier to give up than tobacco.

Still searching said...

I've noticed this too that in the US and France, at least if no where else, women smoke more than men... France the women use it to keep thin, coz it makes you lose your appetite!

Honestly, I think women smoking looks very stylish, but I'm not an advocate of it and don't do it myself...

And btw, happy new year! :)

Aparna Kar said...

@all
Sorry for being out of touch for a while. My real life took over my virtual existence :D Happy New Year

@backpakker
I read a secret somewhere - either in the 'Post a secret' blog or one of the books, something which went like: "I used to smoke in the stealth when I was expecting. And now everytime she coughs, I feel guilty" What I meant when I referred to an unborn child or a love interest was not meant to be an impediment to your individual freedom blah blah. It is your sense of responsibility or love for someone else more than your addiction, that helps you give it up. Not feign it, but genuinely give it up. I have to refer to Jack Nicholson in 'As Good As It Gets' again: You want me to be a better man.
Of course, quitting to smoke doesn't guarantee that you will become a better human being. In fact, the withdrawal symptoms might include your becoming more irritable or gaining 10 pounds or so.. but it is worth it. I saw someone do it (SG in my blog) and I can't believe it's tough. I hope your friend realizes it soon. May be you could try talking to her.

Btw dharmabum , this is to answer your question. Don't quit on the woman, but stick to the one who can make you quit the habit. There are other forms of gratification than that blackens your lungs or negative effect on your pulmonary system :D But if you must, gratify yourself in private and spare the innocent passive smokers specially kids.

Aparna Kar said...

@ Candid and Arnab
Thanks for keeping the blog alive in my absence. :)

Btw Candid, your friend is a specific case, just like my friend who has given up. Whether smoking is more injurious/less easy to give up than alcohol is a highly debatable subject. Plain cigarettes don't cause drunken driving fatalities or accidental pregnancies owing to unprotected sex under the influence of alcohol. (If you have other statistics, do let me know)

The second point of discussion, of social acceptance- I agree with candid about acceptance being a relative term. Arnab opines that cigarette smoking is 'still socially acceptable and even encouraged in popular culture ', my argument was that it is getting less popular. #1 observation was women smoke more. #2 observation is that I have hardly seen youngsters smoking. Also, I admitted that my estimation could have been flawed but my point was- women can smoke openly here without being prejudiced against or having to face negative biases ( I guess) hence, there's little reason for doing it on the sly.

The Statistics provided by both of you is interesting, however, I'll adhere to what I said: enslavement of any kind: booze, fag or desire to indulge in excessive fornication is harmful to health.:D You define addiction, you define your own limits. You ARE the society you live in. Just like Candid said: Apna Apna Choice Hai Bhai.

durjoy datta said...

cant stand smokers!
somehow i dont find any reason why they do it except the fact that they think it's cool!
ya!
they do get to burn holes in their lungs though!
exciting!

Mark IV said...

a lot of people have asked me why i smoke, and consequently tried to convince me to quit. i think they secretly wanted a quantifiable response they cld refute with scientific proof- such as reducing tensions, entry to social circles et al. unfortunately, i and most of those that smoke with me do so simply because we like it. i have done enough research into the ills of smoking, and those who smoke without the knowledge need to get a shot in the arm. but then, those that walk with me, its a matter of choice. i wldnt really suggest a cig to a kid down the street. but if thats the choice he makes, he chooses it!!

Artster said...

Nicely put. Ironic and amusing

Da Rodent said...

hmm.. I aint sayin anything ... :P

Bubbles of FireWhisky said...

i hate it when people smoke... i just cant imagine standing next to a person who smell like they've just managed to escape a forest-fire... add alchohol to it and im ready to barf all over them...