How To Solve The Smoking Problem
It is a truth that appears not to be universally acknowledged that in order to stop doing something you have to start doing it first.
People are not born smokers.
Public health organisations are much exercised to appeal for funding to run stop-smoking clinics. They have a modest success with smokers who seek their help in supporting them on their quitting journey so that they eventually cease poisoning themselves by repeatedly sucking tobacco fumes into their lungs every day.
The last sentence is, of course, ironical in its quoting of the phraseology used by stop-smoking clinics. Quitting smoking is not a journey—it’s a state: you either smoke or you don’t. The need that smokers have is to quit—right now. Is it a state that one approaches gradually with many false starts while one makes quit attempts, that is, repeated failures, to quit?
Then there are smokers who seem almost proud of the fact that they smoked for a decade or two (or more) and then—they quit!—or they switched to a purportedly less harmful way of continuing in thrall to their nicotine addiction such as with e-cigarettes.
This is like mopping the bathroom floor when the water is overflowing. You have to turn the tap (faucet) off first. It’s all well and good having stop-smoking clinics to assist current smokers to cease and desist from their dreadful habit, but what about the supply of new smokers? Let them inhale tobacco smoke daily for years or decades, and then, when they’re fed up with this unnatural activity but find themselves unable to quit, seek the help of government-funded clinics!
I am known as an advocate for banning tobacco but if this proposal seems draconian, then here is an alternative, kinder way to achieve the same thing.
If it’s thought it would be unreasonable and unfair to ban cigarettes outright because people believe they would go through insufferable withdrawal symptoms, here’s how to do it in two easy steps:
Henceforth, only licence holders will be allowed, on pain of instant excommunication, to buy cigarettes. The licences will be provided by doctors who will have to certify a need for continued smoking along the following lines:
CERTIFICATE OF NEED TO SMOKE
This is to certify that Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms……. in my opinion is addicted to smoking and needs to be able to continue to buy cigarettes.
He/she has convinced me that if he/she were unable to continue to buy and smoke cigarettes he/she would suffer severe withdrawal symptoms such that it would be unfair and unreasonable to expect him/her to put up with, such as:
Cross out those that do not apply
Craving(s) for nicotine
Deprivation of enjoyment
Sleeping difficulties/waking at night/nightmares
Difficulty in concentrating
Tingling in hands and feet
Name: Professional qualifications:
Further, although it is illegal for anyone under 18 to buy cigarettes, or for shopkeepers to sell them to those under 18, it is not illegal at present for underage people to possess cigarettes or smoke them. This loophole needs to be closed. I’m not suggesting it should be a punishable offence, but school teachers and the police, among others, should have the authority to confiscate cigarettes from underage people.
Text © Gabriel Symonds