It has only been six months since I considered myself a lifelong smoker. I remember the attitude well. In some ways I haven’t lost that attitude at all because I now consider myself to be a lifelong vaper struggling against similar adversity. Whenever a new anti-smoking campaign started, I was aware of the adverts the first couple of times they flashed past on the TV. I’d watch, make a disgusted noise, and light a cigarette. The more outrageous the advert, the more I wanted to smoke. Anti-smoking campaigns always made me smoke more often, and made me even more stubbornly determined that I was never going to quit.
The finger wagging condescending anti-smoking zealots used half-truths and junk science in those campaigns and I recognised it. I understood the deliberate deceit and resented it. I also resented the constant drip of nocebo images that festooned my smoking materials. I understood that these too are harmful; this point is ignored whenever raised. This just served to add to my resentment towards the message and made me dig my heels in even further. They also used horrifying tactics, turning my friends and family against me. They targeted the ‘pester power’ of my children, setting the scene for many family arguments and upsets and undermining my abilities as a parent in a nasty, underhanded way. Society as a whole became hostile towards me. Not towards my habit, but towards me as a smoker. This is now really starting to reap what it sowed as violence against smokers becomes more common. The end does not justify the means; and in fact these tactics did not stop me smoking. They just made my life more stressful, which in turn made me smoke more.
For the last thirty years I have resented the anti-smoking message to the point of swearing out loud at it and physically making rude gestures towards it, even when alone. It has made me that angry. It really has been a huge factor in my relapses as well. When already stressed and angry, the trigger of an anti smoking advert has twice caused my relapse to smoking. Anecdotal? Well, yes of course it is. That does not make it any less true. I see the same horrendous, outrageous anti-smoking propaganda, getting more blatant every day, and I still rage.
First do no harm.
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