…is one that everyone faces at some point in their lives. The “should I or shouldn’t I” usually begins in our early teens, thanks largely to Big Tobacco’s marketing genius and product placement. Of course, our teen to early 20’s are years when our brains are still very much developing. Rarely are we prepared to make the kind of life-changing decision that is choosing the tobacco lifestyle. Chances are we don’t recognize all the tricks of the trade employed by the wolves in sheep’s clothing pushing nicotine-laced products at us at every turn. Nor do we usually know that these tender years are when our brains are the most susceptible to addiction, making our futures easier for the wolves to steal.
Big Tobacco knows all this. In fact, they count on it to stay rolling in the dough…our dough, the dough we cough up every time we buy a pack of cigarettes, a plug or a vape. They don’t care about the dough we eventually will spend on Big Healthcare, or oral surgery, or cosmetic procedures as we watch the explosion of premature wrinkles on our faces. As long as we are thoroughly addicted to their core product – nicotine – the Tobacco Industry knows we will find a way to get our fix, even it means less food on the table for our families.
That is the nature of being chained to a substance – nicotine – that takes over how our neural circuitry works and leaves our brains with a permanent chemical tattoo. Nicotine is the naturally – occurring, poisonous chemical produced by the tobacco plant’s root system to ward off pests. It is the extracted substance on which the Tobacco Empire has been built and it has been dubbed the “perfect drug of addiction” for numerous reasons.
Most of us believe that when we start down the tobacco trail, we can smoke a few cigarettes or chew/spit/vape for a few years then walk away when we get bored with it. Sadly, that is not how nicotine addiction works. Teenagers can get hooked on nicotine literally after one or two smokes or chews. Once hooked, chances are that they will stay hooked for life, unless they fight back and choose to wrest control of their bodies and brains from an addiction/habit that has been controlling them.
The choice is always ours. We can choose to thumb our noses at peer pressure, deceptive marketing, dumb celebrity endorsements, and free samples that will cost us for decades. We can seek truth at any age, along with self respect and respect for those around us. We can chose not to be polluters who litter the planet with trillions of toxic cigarette/cigar/cigarillo butts and rivers of chemical-laced nicotine spit. We can choose not to expose friends, family and pets to dangerous second hand smoke or leave the toxic liquid nicotine we need for e-cigarettes lying around for curious kids and pets to ingest prior to being rushed to the ER. If we do choose the tobacco trail, we can choose to veer off it the instant we realize that it no longer serves our self-image, our life goals, our social status or our pocketbooks. We can chose not to put off the detox process until “tomorrow” but to tackle it today before tomorrow stretches out into decades of lost time, health and wealth.
Let’s choose not to let tobacco ruin our lives. If we no longer like the choice we made as teens to look cool, act rebellious, fit in with the fast crowd, or follow in a family member’s footsteps, November 20, 2014 is the perfect day to do something different. The Great American Smokeout inspires us to choose to spend the day as non tobacco users. That day doesn’t work for you? No worries. Find another day…soon…and make it your own Great American Smokeout. We are only truly trapped by tobacco if we chose to do nothing to escape it.