What I Think Tank

Getting Over Smoker’s Guilt: Overcoming the Stigmatizing Propaganda Against Tobacco Users

with 5 comments

It’s now more than a year ago since I actively took up the hobby of pipe smoking, after having had much fun and pleasure from smoking cigars for quite some time. It might seem like a counter-cultural act to bring back what some regard as outdated, or just socially contrarian. Today, the majority opinion is that tobacco is a bane of society that has to be purged, by force if need be. Political forces work like ants behind the dark facade of government and bureaucracy to enact regulations, programs and laws that will throw tobacco smokers out on the streets and squeeze tobacco companies and tobacconists out of business.

Daily, we hear campaigns against tobacco smoking, where politicians and activists are actively putting a stigma on the back of everyone who abuses “cancer sticks”. The commercials are many – either you see lungs filled with tar, skin that is gray and weathered, fingers that are yellow and stubby, or rampant warnings lights while the word “cancer” is screaming in your face. The result from all of this is a social engineering of stigma against tobacco users; a government creation of discrimination and hatred. In the view of anti-smoking activists, smoking is an evil that people have every right to call you out on. Public schools will teach kids about the “dangers of tobacco” and urge kids to spread the word to their friends and family members. The victims of this stigma develop smoker’s guilt. They will try to keep their habit hidden, shying away from social settings in order to fulfill their need for some nicotine. They start to hate themselves for doing something thought of as disgusting, yet it’s hard for them to stop it, because they secretly enjoy it.

It’s very disturbing to see just how many who will admit to being a smoker, while doing so with a hint of shame and guilt in their voice. Not all have ambivalent feelings towards their habit, but many do. It seems like mentioning the topic of smoking will depress them, as it reminds them of every time someone has stigmatized them for their habit. One can only imagine how the words chanting in their head from all the anti-smoking activists, politicians, journalists, doctors and scientists makes them hate themselves for being voluntary “slaves” to something they grow to regard as inherently bad – as if being a smoker is a sign of poor character and immorality.

…And the worst thing is, most people think this is okay.

This angers me intensely. Not only is it immoral to impose your own preferences through the power of government, but stigmatization is also a very destructive tool to use in order to force through a political cause. While you may end up with some smokers who quit smoking (although these numbers are anything but impressive after decades of expensive tax-funded anti-smoking campaigns), many of the remaining smokers will develop guilt and depression because of their habit. This will arguably have a much more devastating and immediate effect on the individual than any of the possible health risks from smoking will have, leading to a range of other social problems that aren’t as easy to observe. If anything, it only stands to reason that if “good public health” was the main goal of anti-smoking activists, then active stigmatization is an extremely poor choice of strategy. The reality is that anti-smoking activists are only putting you and your habit down, because they themselves have made the choice of not smoking, and through a collectivist world view find it in their right to force others to make the same choice as well.

There exists, however, an individualistic remedy to overcome this stigmatization and remain proud and happy about what in essence should be a very positive and enjoyable hobby.

I mentioned to begin with that I myself have just over the last few years taken up smoking more and more, despite the ever increasing stigma against tobacco users. Am I simply a counter-cultural social contrarian? No, not at all. Being so would be irrational. None of my motivations for smoking tobacco came from this wish to simply do the opposite of what the wise overlords are telling me to do. My choice came from a complete disregard of any propaganda of the pros and cons of tobacco smoking. It was a completely individual, rational and personal choice, fueled by a lust to enrich my daily life with a joy and hobby that I could experience and enjoy both physically and mentally. For instance, the collection of pipes is a long lasting project, where purchases are made not only for short-term enjoyment, but also long-term fun and interest. As such it has a deeper meaning to it, rather than it just being a meaningless anti-trend statement. There is a great excitement in trying new tobaccos with new flavors, going through the meditating routine of packing your pipe, checking the draw, doing a false light, then a proper light, puff it a few times to get the flavors going, and feel the gentle taste of the smoke roll across the tip of your tongue and through your entire mouth, before attempting to blow smoke rings.

It’s much more than just feeling the buzz from the nicotine. It’s a source for great joy and relaxation. You are able to collect yourself from all the pressure that life put on your shoulders, and just take a little bit of time to experience something different and develop a skill and taste that is completely your own. There is a sense of beauty to all of this, and that beauty is something that can never be brought down by any means of stigma or hatred.

(Image by Pipesmagazine.com)

As such, the stigma that is actively being put on smokers does not affect me.

The overarching goal in anyone’s life should always be to achieve happiness. You only have this one life to experience happiness, so you’d do well in making use of all the tools at your disposal. If you are a smoker suffering from smoker’s guilt, then you are left with two choices: Quit smoking immediately, or changing your mindset and cultivating tobacco smoking as a source for something good in your life, embracing it with pride and conviction. Most tobacco users suffering from smoker’s guilt are likely cigarette smoker. I would like to suggest the following to you:

Rather than trying to quit smoking, how about delving deeper into the world of tobacco and try to make it a fun hobby? Tobacco is very much like beer, wine and spirits – yes, you can abuse it, but you also have a vast source of enjoyment to find inspiration from. It’s all about having the right mindset. You could for instance try a new brand of cigarettes/tobacco each time you buy some more, in order to explore the flavors the tobacco gives. There is no point in being brand loyal in what should be regarded as fun experimentation. Also, the price difference between cheaper brands and more exquisite brands are limited. And even if you’re on a strict budget, there are more than enough possibilities to get you started with, without having to blow away all your money.

I would also suggest you explore the world of tobaccos beyond cigarettes, like cigars and pipe tobacco. These ways of enjoying tobacco have had the pleasure of being cultivated as a part of finer culture for hundreds of years, where purity and taste have been in the main seat all along. Here you will find a whole new range of tastes and experiences, and there are also lots of fascinating things to learn. Pipe smoking, for instance, also adds the fun activity of pipe collecting and caring for your pipes. If you would like to combine tobacco smoking with a relative health benefit, then proper cigar- and pipe smoking is also a fairly good compromise. Regardless what your preferences are, you will certainly find inspirations at your local tobacconist, or at a tobacco store online.

By trying some of these things for yourself, smoking will always be something fresh and interesting. You will learn how different types of tobaccos give you different experiences, and you will find tobaccos and brands that better suit your taste, reshaping your habit into making it about cultivating something good. Most importantly, you will find many like minded individuals on your way. You will feel better about yourself and stand proud and steadfast in the face of those who wish only to bring you down.

As a result, tobacco smoking in itself has many more potential positive effects than negative ones, and perhaps even some unexpected ones, as noted by Bertrand Russel, himself an avid pipe smoker his whole life. The stigmatizing propaganda by the nanny statists is something you should rise above, as overcoming such stigmatization is imperative to a healthy individualistic life. Remember, you only have one life to achieve happiness. There is no time to lose.

As an ending remark, I would like to quote Jeffrey Tucker, who echoes this sentiment in his essay “Bring Back the Breakfast Drink”:

Everyone knows the rule: drink no liquor before noon. How insufferable such advice is! It has caused morning drinkers to hide their habits, deny them when confronted, and otherwise feel like they are doing something wrong or immoral or socially intolerable, a combination which leads to other forms of pathology.

It is time for them to stand up and proclaim themselves and their habit as the noble act it is. All over the world, there exists a grand tradition of including a bit of spirits with one’s breakfast, or at least a bit of beer or wine. How tragic that those who struggle mightily to uphold this practice are reduced to doing so alone, enjoying their pleasure only in the privacy of their own kitchen for fear of inviting public humiliation.

Advertisements

5 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Many thanksfor a first-class article. I am sick of the shrill anti-tobacco brigade who enjoy making other people’s life less and less pleasant. Delighted also to read a fellow pipe smoker and I agree thoroughly with your views on the sublime pleasures of tasting different tobaccos.

    Joseph Higgins

    March 4, 2015 at 3:34 pm

  2. […] July of this year, my post on overcoming smoker’s guilt got picked up by people on reddit. The reddit thread can be viewed here. I thought I’d […]

  3. […] People Who Don’t Do Them: “People say smoking is dangerous and unhealthy, but this just serves to stigmatize smokers and make them feel unwelcome in […]

  4. It’s so hard to find anything sensible on the Internet regarding this subject. I totally concur with your viewpoint. I love smoking and now make a point of proclaiming my pride especially around tobacco Nazis. I favour high-quality rolling tobacco with a filter- usually with a nice glass of French red wine of an evening- what could be better? I won’t ramble on too much but would like to recommend the following excellent book by Chistopher Snowdon: ‘Velvet Glove, Iron Fist- a history of anti-Smoking’ available on Amazon. HIghly educational and packed with ammunition for dealing with the endless propaganda the modern-day smoker has to constantly deal with.

    steveaungle

    April 19, 2012 at 12:37 am

    • Thanks! I’m very happy to hear you enjoyed what I had to say on the subject. It’s something I intend to continue writing about in the future, possibly making it part of my future studies, as it’s a great contemporary example of the unforeseen consequences of government-sponsored stigmatization of personal choices. Also, thanks for the recommendation! I’ll be sure to check that book out. I see Snowdon writes for Sp!ked at times, so that reassures me the book will be a sensible and productive read.

      I like your taste! Personally, I’m a fan of having a cold beer or a glass of whiskey with my pipes, especially during summer, while soaking up some sun. It’s absolutely fabulous. I’ve recently also taken up the lovely habit of “vaping” – e-cig smoking. Fantastic stuff! It’s like the cigarette version of aromatic and flavored pipe tobacco, just without the tobacco, which is different and fascinating. Seems like Snowdon has something to say about that as well:
      http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/9980/

      Before reading that article, I didn’t realize e-cigs had stirred up such a commotion. You’d think anti-smoking activists would be happy about e-cigs, if their intentions truly were to improve public health. Again they prove that they don’t care about the public nor health, and it just further underlines the point I made in my article: “anti-smoking activists are only putting you and your habit down, because they themselves have made the choice of not smoking, and through a collectivist world view find it in their right to force others to make the same choice as well.”

      Stick to your guns, man! Happy smoking! 🙂

      Morten Rolland

      April 19, 2012 at 5:46 am


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: