The Tear-Jerker Way To Quit Smoking

A recently released short film, produced by a number of local health authorities in the north of England, is titled ‘Don’t be the 1’. This is an admonition not to be the one of the one-in-two smokers who will die from a smoking-related illness. It made me feel quite angry—not with the makers of the film I hasten to say, but with the government for allowing this situation to come about.

We are shown a young boy packing his things into a rucksack, and then, with a look of unutterable sadness, going into the adjoining room where his father, looking equally glum, is sitting by the bed of an expertly made-up woman, his mother, who is supposed to be dying of cancer.

In other words, this is yet another attempt to persuade smokers to quit through fear.

If you’re a smoker, how afraid do you need to be before you quit? Or at any rate, if you’re a smoker, the intention seems to be to make you sufficiently afraid at least to seek help in quitting.

One of the sponsors of this wheeze is called ‘Breathe 2025’. They even have a competition—incredibly, aimed at children—that they call ‘track the pack’. This means notifying the organisers of how many cigarette packs they see with horrible pictures on them, and the child who reports the first ten packs seen wins a prize!

Isn’t this absurd, or isn’t it? There shouldn’t be any cigarettes—with the packs bearing horrible pictures or not—on view at all! Because they shouldn’t be on sale!!

In any case, the idea is simplistic: see a pack of cigarettes with a horrible picture and not buy it. Smokers don’t look at the pictures: they buy the cigarettes anyway—and smoke them.

This film is similar to one on which I commented in 2015, that time about a boy whose father was dying of lung cancer. Evidently nothing much has changed.

The fact that smoking may cause lung cancer is well known, but there are still around nine million smokers in Britain. The glaring paradox is that if cigarettes are so dangerous, why are they allowed?

Even if all current smokers could somehow be persuaded to quit, what about all the hundreds of thousands of teenagers and children in Britain and elsewhere who start smoking each year because cigarettes are everywhere on open sale?

Text © Gabriel Symonds

Gabriel Symonds

Dr Gabriel Symonds is a British medical doctor living in Japan who has developed a unique interactive stop smoking method. It involves no nicotine, drugs, hypnosis, or gimmicks but consists in helping smokers to demonstrate to themselves why they really smoke and why it seems so hard to stop doing it. Then most people find they can quit straightaway and without a struggle. He has used this approach successfully with hundreds of smokers; it works equally well for vapers. Dr Symonds also writes about transgenderism and other controversial medical matters. See

Cata - 11 January 2021 Reply

Hi Gabriel,
I’ve read quite a few articles on this website and I like your writing style and, more importantly, the ideas you put forth in helping people quit smoking.
There’s one theme however, I see popping up often in your writings, which I don’t agree with, present in this article as well:
“There shouldn’t be any cigarettes—with the packs bearing horrible pictures or not—on view at all! Because they shouldn’t be on sale!!”

Being more of a libertarian minded person, from a political or even philosophical, I don’t think smoking should be banned by the government. Of course, since I’m consistent, I don’t think the government should provide “free” healthcare either.

I think people should realize on their own why they shouldn’t smoke or start, not be babysit by an authority. If people learn to take responsibility for their lives, they’ll need no protection from the government. Otherwise, if we rely on banning things because people can’t abstain from abusing something, we’d end up constantly moving the goalpost.

You’re doing a great job on helping people understand why smoking is stupid, it’s not a sacrifice when quitting it and everything related to this end. Some will never get it, but banning is not the way forward, unless the reasoning is “if you’re too stupid to stop doing harm to yourself, we’re going to help you by making the stuff inaccessible” is fine with you.

    Gabriel Symonds - 12 January 2021 Reply

    Thank you for your kind remarks.

    I realise of course that my call for the abolition of cigarettes is controversial, but I believe it is the only measure that will solve the smoking problem.

    Smoking, after all, is not just a bad habit or a potentially dangerous activity like riding a motor-bike or rock-climbing: it’s drug (nicotine) addiction which results in seven million smoking-related deaths worldwide every year according to the WHO. This fact seems to be overlooked or wilfully ignored by governments who gain enormously from tobacco taxation. And why do people start smoking? Because cigarettes are everywhere on sale! They also start from peer pressure or curiosity, not intending to become addicted, but many of them do and contribute to the WHO statistic. Cigarettes are therefore in a different category from other consumer products or behaviours.

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