Saturday 25 October 2008

Smoke Free

Even though it has only been three or four years since the smoking ban in public places came into force in Ireland, it's somewhat difficult to imagine it as not being something that has always been in existence - such is the overwhelming success of the project. The Irish government have tried hard in this area of public health action. They continue to discourage smoking with annual increases in the price of cigarettes - another 50 cents was added just a couple of weeks ago.

The other day I was sitting in the area formerly designated the smoking room of my local coffeehouse. I soon noticed that smoking was in the room again only not in a physical sense, but as a matter of discussion.

A group of four people (who didn't all arrive together) were discussing their trials of giving up the cigarettes as a topic of conversation. It didn't look like they had intended to meet for this reason, but a micro-community seemed to have formed and an ad hoc ex-smokers support group was in the making. They spoke about how difficult it was to give up, what gum they chewed as an alternative or how often they changed the patch.

It caused my mind to think about a couple of elderly people I know, both smokers. I am aware that they are on limited pensions and live in very humble dwellings and most definitely cannot afford to smoke. And yet they do. Such is the grip that tobacco has on people - many of whom started smoking when it was fashionable and health concerns were of no concern at all. Suddenly I viewed the 50 cent increase as unfair. Completely understandable, but for some unfair. It also made me loathe the tobacco companies even more.

My faith background has traditionally held a strong position in relation to harmful substances and it continues to do so. I am proud to say that I have never smoked a cigarette in my life - a testament to at least something in my upbringing holding fast. (I wish I could say the same for every piece of wise advice offered me!) That doesn't put me in a better position, but it does cause me to ask, what could I do to help? Because I don't imagine that the extra revenue created from adding 50 cents to a packet of cigs will be filtered back in some form to help my old smoking friends to quit.

By the way, if you are a smoker who is trying to give up: God's grace and strength to you!


Dana said...

I smoked for many years. When I stopped it was only by the Grace of God. It is such a stronghold and I am glad to say I am cigarette free for over 10 years now...

Now it's venti bold brew.


David said...

Cosmo, I tried cigs when I was a kid. I didn't like them. My brother wasn't so lucky. He still smokes. He has tried to quit but he went back to them. It is a nasty addiction. I hope some day he does quit and before it is too late.

I understand your thoughts about it though. And what great perception you have to notice that "smoking room" still "smoking" with conversation. As a writer, I compliment you on that.

I wanted to thank you for the comments you wrote last week on my leave behind post. I was flattered by that. Thank you.

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