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