[ Note : This is for my maternal grandfather Jose, Tito Val (Bautista), Tito Fonso (Yang), Tito PD, Uncle Jess Imperial, and everyone else in my family who is/was smoking. Thanks for reading everyone! ]
THE 17TH of the month, it will have been exactly five years since I quit smoking. I’m not usually a stickler for dates but this particular one sticks out in my mind as it was one of the few things I did that was unequivocally smart (after 24 years of silliness), and something that probably saved my life, and preserved the quality of such life for the remainder.
I would be less than honest if I didn’t tell you that I still light up every now and then, elaboration below. But on the whole it has been smoke-free and tobacco-free for this Pinoy for probably 99.9% of the last 60 months, coincidentally also spent as an accidental migrant.
So I don’t sound like a puritanical, hypocritical turncoat who’s seen the light, and preaching to the choir, let me start first by stating the frankly obvious : given the millions and millions of smokers who’ve been smoking throughout their adult lives until their last, gasping breath, there must be some benefits, addle-brained as it sounds (the medical evidence to the contrary is overwhelming).
This is not arguing for argument’s sake, or standing as devil’s advocate in a debating tournament. Long after quitting, I still think there are benefits to smoking.
Needless to say, but I’m as usual saying it, is this is all my penny-for-your-thoughts opinion, which isn’t worth much, but I have an hour before I need to get ready for my afternoon shift :
The first, most obvious benefit to smokers is the pleasure and physiological effects that tobacco provides. Speeds you up, slows you down, it all depends on the smoker. Administered as a direct hit to the brain and bloodstream, several thousand chemicals are introduced to the body, and among many things smoking claims to clear up your thinking, makes you more alert, helps you relax, and helps you get rid of the “feeling of fullness” after a heavy meal.
Relatedly, smoking helps you engage in conversation, helps you focus in whatever work you do, and helps you get into the routine, if you have gotten used to smoking in your daily life.
The second benefit of smoking is that it’s a sociability tool, mainly for smoothing over any awkwardness in introducing yourself and acquainting yourself with strangers. Essentially, if you smoke, and I smoke, we can do something together, even if we’re strangers who happen to be killing ourselves (no overt sarcasm intended). Because smokers meet and converge in smoking areas, share cigarettes, light each other’s cancer sticks, friendships are easily struck and nurtured, no big surprise. The real surprise is why can’t we do this in church, the gym, or even on the train commuting to and from work? Because smoking is a social activity, and misery loves company. Nothing more, nothing less.
I thought there would be a third benefit of smoking, but I was wrong. That’s it.
Now, on the other side of the scale :
Lung cancer and related diseases from smoking is the second most prevalent preventable cause of death in the world, or is among the top three at least. The graphic in the video above says 4 million die from smoking related causes every year, but it’s at least two years old. ( I just looked, it’s five million now.) For someone as smart, practical and common-sensical as you, it beggars belief that you’re still smoking. 😉
There are so many negative social consequences that one must live with if he/she persists in smoking, among them being shunned and ostracized (and sent to smoking areas), being thought of as being inconsiderate, especially if they are parents, “dragon breath”, work interruption caused by cigarette breaks, and so on. This is a list that keeps giving, and so I better stop here.
And there are many many others, reasons to stop I mean, but since I’m a scaredy cat, I need to ask you Precious Reader : what if you don’t die from cancer, complications or emphysema soon after diagnosis? Below is not a very watchable video (yet again), but it’s quite convincing :
Sorry to use such a graphic video, but it’s better than a video of an actual person sick with COPD and emphysema. The voice-over with the video is effective, too.
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That’s it. That’s my take on smoking. I can’t say I’m completely free of tobacco addiction (’cause I still think about smoking, especially when I see you smoking), but pardon me for bragging when I say that I’m getting there.
And I would love your company. 🙂