I'm an ex-smoker and I need to tell you this...

During the week there was an article on Starts at 60 about smoking and whether or not the price of cigarettes should be tripled to decrease the amount of people smoking and save thousands of lives every year. There was one interesting comment thread on the article that both angered me and made me proud.

Firstly, I’m an ex-smoker. I smoked through my teens, in my early 20s. I stopped when I had children but by the time my third child was in high school, I started back up again. Two years ago I quit for good. Why? Because I realised that it was an expensive habit, throwing away money I could have spent on treating my wife. I was also starting to feel short of breath, slower and more lethargic and I don’t want my active life to be cut any more short. And most importantly, I realised that with every draw on a cigarette I was making the deliberate decision to be so selfish that I was cutting my time short – my time to spend with my wife, my time to spend with the kids and my time to spend with my friends.

I’m proud that I quit, but I still get cravings and I still, often, think like a smoker. But when I read this thread I realised that the smoker mentality may have found new bounds. Someone commented saying they hate it when smokers light up in public places, beside other people and blow smoke into their faces. She then likened it to spraying perfume they hate in their direction and suggested that perhaps she should try it next time it happens. She also said that she doesn’t have hesitation in asking them to move if they are doing it.

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Well, that poor lady was absolutely dragged through the dirt for her opinion. In response to her take on humour, someone said that she would be arrested as she is spraying chemicals at another person – isn’t that was a smoker does when they blow smoke in someone’s direction? Then another person replied saying, “you don’t own the world and tell other people what to do if you don’t like the smell MOVE”. Another who previously said they were a smoker said, “A bus stop is a public place, you have no right to tell people what to do, if your not happy then you move… you’re a very rude person”. Simply for expressing her opinion.

Then someone made a comment that had me reeling. They said, “smokers pay more taxes than you do and they have a right to sit in peace without your rudeness directed at them”.

Now, I’m all for fair and reasonable but this comment made me take a step back and say, ‘wow, is that someone’s real justification for smokers doing what they want to do?’ Should Australia really operate on a scheme where the people who pay the highest tax have more rights than those who pay less tax?

Australia’s income tax works on percentage – it’s a percentage of what you earn so quite simply, if you earn more, you pay more. If you earn less, you pay less. This person basically said that wealthy people have more rights than poorer people. Or perhaps she just simply didn’t think before she wrote?

As a once smoker, I am disgruntled that there are people out there that think that way. I loved smoking and a part of me still does love it, but I really hope that the smoker mentality doesn’t take a turn down this path. Smoking is no more than a habit – an unhealthy one at that. Smokers are also more likely to be less well of socio-economically according to some studies, so please smokers as someone who wants to stand up for you, please don’t say things without thinking. Please remember that what we do isn’t healthy. Please remember that giving money to the government is our choice and it doesn’t make us any more important than anyone else.

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People who drink are legally confined to licensed public venues, bars or in private homes – if they are drinking on the street or letting their smell, breath or distorted behaviour be seen by anyone they can be charged with an offence. Smokers aren’t, but with these bad attitudes, it makes me think that we should have the same circumstances.

I hope that smokers can read this and remember that our rights are equal to everyone else’s. I want us to be respectful of other people and live together happily.


Do you agree with me?