Why I’m go­ing to quit smok­ing for real now

The way I see it, there are only three pos­si­ble op­tions for smok­ers in 2019.

Sunday News - - FRONT PAGE -

WHAT mad­ness pos­sesses peo­ple to smoke? Non­smok­ers have been taught to be­lieve ev­ery vile puff is forced down our throats, a symbol of Big Tobacco’s do­min­ion over the wheez­ing masses.

But some­times a cig­a­rette is just a cig­a­rette. Smok­ing is both re­lax­ing, and mildly stim­u­lat­ing. It’s hard to beat a Greek break­fast. To light up af­ter ameal—or af­ter cer­tain other ac­tiv­i­ties—is to be­come closer to God.

Here’s an­other heresy: if you quit smok­ing early enough in life, your lungs and gen­eral health bounce back to nor­mal. Those who kick the habit be­fore 30 have the same life ex­pectancy as non-smok­ers. Nurses and health pro­fes­sion­als know this, which is why many of them are not averse to the oc­ca­sional fag.

Nev­er­the­less: this is the year I will stop smok­ing. For one thing, the big three-oh is start­ing to loom over the hori­zon. That num­ber also hap­pens to mir­ror the price in­creases—af­ter yet an­other tax hike on New Year’s Day, it’s hard to find a pack for less than $30. Lastly, it just doesn’t fit with my bud­get and health­con­scious im­age. The so­cial sham­ing has fi­nally got to me.

So here are the three choices for smok­ers in 2019:

1. GIVE IT UP

The po­tent mix­ture of New Year res­o­lu­tions and ra­pa­cious tax in­creases has sparked a del­uge of calls to Quit­line. These folks can of­fer you all the sup­port and guid­ance you need, and hook you up with sub­sidised nico­tine gum, patches or lozenges.

2. GROWYOUROWN

The price in­creases haven’t af­fected me too much, be­cause I’ve mostly smoked chop-chop while I’m in New Zealand. There’s a boom­ing black mar­ket up and down the coun­try, which I couldn’t pos­si­bly en­dorse in a news­pa­per col­umn, but it’s per­fectly le­gal to grow your own for per­sonal use. All you need is some space in the gar­den, and some­where dry to cure the leaves. Tobacco is a hardy plant, and a thou­sand seeds costs about $2.50. You do the math.

3. VA­P­ING

While ini­tially mocked as the ‘fe­dora of the mouth’, a vape is no longer just a fash­ion ac­ces­sory for hip­sters. In fact, e-ci­garettes are lit­er­ally life- savers: they’ve helped thou­sands of peo­ple quit, they’re vastly cheaper than their tar-filled cousins, and some­thing like 95 per cent less harm­ful. There’s no ash, no butt, no stink, no sec­ond­hand smoke.

The Gov­ern­ment, for­ever haunted by the idea that some­body, some­where, might be en­joy­ing them­selves, has pro­posed a raft of new vape laws, but at least it’s now le­gal to buy e-ci­garettes and fluid.

A cynic might say the re­luc­tance to em­brace smok­ing al­ter­na­tives has some­thing to do with the vast sums of money the gov­ern­ment earns from tobacco, with a cap­tive mar­ket of ad­dicts who have lit­tle choice but to pony up and pay the taxes.

As grotesque as this be­hav­iour is – es­pe­cially com­ing from politi­cians who talk a big game about car­ing for the poor and vul­ner­a­ble—we can only fo­cus on the fac­tors within our con­trol. Smok­ing com­mer­cial tobacco in 2019 is no longer an op­tion, as far as I’m con­cerned. You have to ei­ther quit, vape, or grow your own.

Of course, it’s all well and good to come up with a vague goal. There are a lot of those fly­ing around at this time of year. Tune in next week, and we’ll go through the fac­tors for mak­ing a res­o­lu­tion that doesn’t drift away like smoke on the wind.

‘ You have to ei­ther quit, vape, or grow your own.’

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