How did it all begin? An experiment behind the garden shed with 'borrowed'cigarettes
at the age of 12? An episode perhaps forgotten until much later, when at the age of 16 or so
smoking may have begun in earnest. Now something done whilst hanging out with the 'gang',
or an act of defiance against the authorities that were trying to absorb one's identity.
Could smoking have been adopted as a way of making a defining mark to form up independently?
Maybe for some cigarette smoking was the normal thing to do. A matter of simply taking a
position like aligning to a political party; Democrat or Republican? Stalinist or Trotskyite? Conservative or Socialist?
Non-rebel or rebel (with or without a cause)? Smoker or non-smoker?... The time of ones youth
when experimentation flourished. A time of allowance; when all was mostly accepted by all in this
first flush of adult living.
Later at probably somewhere between the ages of 19 to 23 came the first
hint of trouble, when the coughing started and breathing problems appeared - sometimes making it impossible
to smoke the daily quota of cigarettes. Soon the need to stop became all too obvious;
so an attempt was made, only to discover after two weeks of abstinence that somehow one
had once again taken up with the weed. Addiction had become a reality.
At this early time a whole affair was being born between ourselves and cigarettes.
Not just coughing fits and quitting attempts, but a rich world was opening up - subversively
sneaking a cigarette here or there because they had been outlawed; finding onself in the
early hours of the morning, without smokes and travelling in search of a cigarette machine
or an all-night cafe or service-station that could provide... Enjoying the pleasure
of a smoke and a drink with friends at a local bar... being alone, in a
timeless moment, watching the dawn with a trusted cigarette...Or watching smoke
spiralling with one's dreams in the stillness of the night under the canopy of stars.
Thus did smoking become as a companion and serve as a satisfying complement to
much of all one did...A seemingly endless, magical affair...but whilst our heads were in
the clouds, something else was happening.
One was now waking in the morning and smoking before getting out of bed.
Lighting up throughout the day at every occasion and becoming quickly irritable if smoking was
prohibited. Discovering that what had started out as an innocent affair had at first
turned into a habit and then almost unnoticed shifted gears and had become a
powerful addiction. Cigarette smoking clearly came with a stiff price attached.
Before smoking most rational people would obtain a full set of facts,
reason the pros and the cons, calculate the odds and figure out what the likely results would be;
then they would most certainly decide not to.
Most smokers don't. They have decided! And avoiding the anti-smoking class at school and all other
warnings, press on regardless. Oh, they may receive a little prior intelligence - some
vague knowing that a distant uncle had died of lung cancer (whatever that was?) connected with his
smoking or somesuch - but at that young age it is largely lost in the multitude of everything
else that's happening.
The realization that smoking is like a nightmare credit card
only comes later, when the first bills appear.|
Non-repayable bills with large interest payments,
bills that will never stop coming.