I read a post the other day that really annoyed me. It was about those pictures you see on cigarette packets nowadays showing things like blackened lungs, tumours and a parent with a child stating how harmful second hand smoke is to children.
The poster (a smoker themselves) was basically saying how they took offence to these pictures, that they are completely useless, and that the government should spend money elsewhere, i.e. putting warning labels on sugary/fatty foods.
I couldn’t help but think that the truth hurts. That the reason those pictures angered them was that they didn’t want the cold, hard ugly reality of the dangers of smoking shoved in their face when they lit up. In my opinion those pictures do work…well it got under the skin of one person at least.
I used to smoke. I started at aged 16 because the guy I was going out with at the time did, and I hated kissing him afterwards. It was a kind of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” situation.
After a few years I became a social smoker, and would only have a fag when I had a drink. I actually couldn’t envisage one without the other, and I could justify the awfulness of cigarettes as I wasn’t doing it all the time.
All my friends smoked. My entire family (except one uncle) smoked. In fact, I could probably name on one hand the amount of people I knew who didn’t smoke. It was just so normal and accepted.
I never ever stopped to think about the dangers of it because I was young and invincible, and there were far worse things I could have been doing to my body. It was only a cheeky fag, right? The word cancer wasn’t even in my vocabulary. But then in 2003 they found it in my Grandad’s lungs, and everything changed forever.
He died in March 2004, about 5 months after he was diagnosed. He was actually found to have had asbestos in his lungs but had also smoked his entire life.
Believe it or not he was actually quite fit and healthy despite this. He had never learnt to drive so he walked miles pretty much every day. There was never any alcohol in the house, and he ate really well. Smoking was his only vice, as was my Nanna’s.
We lost her in October last year after a massive heart attack…a direct cause of her smoking. While she was in the hospital the doctors found that she also had lung cancer. She had been complaining of back pains during the previous weeks, but had put it down to old age.
Although the heart attack was horrific, the one thing that we as a family cling onto is the fact that she never knew about the lung cancer. She was in a coma in the hospital when they found out, and died a few days later.
The doctors said that it was so advanced that there was nothing they could have done about it anyway. So at least she was spared months of pain, and we didn’t have to watch another person we loved so much deteriorate before our eyes.
Despite the death of my Grandad 13 years ago, we all continued to smoke. After the initial shock, and a few empty promises of people giving up, no one did. I was still only smoking whilst drinking, but gave up completely the day I found out I was pregnant, and have never looked back.
I never even thought about it, it was the easiest thing I have ever done. I realised then that I never even really enjoyed it, it was just a habit. As soon as I saw that positive pregnancy test my focus has always been my baby, and I would never do anything to harm her. It got me thinking that if you can’t give up for your own child, then what will it take?
The whole point of this post is about my mum. I adore my family, and I would love them all to give up smoking, but more than anyone else, I want her to quit. She came to visit this week, and we had a good chat. She said that she would love to give up, especially after what happened to my Nanna (her mother).
It’s frightened her a lot, and she has had nightmares where she herself has been told she has cancer. My mum has smoked for nearly 40 years, and I am definitely noticing the effects of it now. She used to be so fit and healthy, I used to struggle to keep up with her when she walked.
Now I’ve noticed her breathlessness, and the wheezing, especially in the morning. Not to mention the horrible smell…she obviously never smoked in my house when she was here, but when she came in from outside after having a fag, the smell was so noticeable, even Molly asked was it was as she’s never been around it before.
It’s strange because I had resigned myself to the fact that my mum would never give up smoking. I accepted my fate (or hers), and had mentally prepared myself for the inevitable.
However, since the death of my Nanna, and the fact that my mum has actually said that she wants to quit, I really want to help her do it. She’s in her 50’s now, but it is never too late. The thing is, I don’t want to come across as a nag, or make her feel guilty, after all it’s her life and she can do what she wants. But the bottom line is, I don’t want her to die early from lung cancer.
Yes I know that there’s no actual guarantee that she’ll get it, and none of us know what fate will befall us, but unfortunately the odds are stacked against her. Like it or not, smoking is bad news , everyone knows that. And what if she does get cancer, or some other god-awful disease, and I had never tried to help her quit…I would never forgive myself.
Everyone has their vices, I am well aware of that, and I think that because I’m pretty much T-total nowadays that I notice it a lot more. Since becoming a mum I have been conscious of my own mortality, and I have made a concerted effort to eat well, exercise and just generally look after myself much better.
I want to be around for as long as possible for my daughter, and I feel so much better for it anyway, mentally and physically. I probably sound quite smug now, but I’m just trying to be the best mum I can be.
The thought of intentionally damaging my body through my own bad choices, and then my daughter having to live with the consequences is just not on my radar. I know my mum feels the same, as she told me that she doesn’t want to put us all through that.
But saying you’re going to give up smoking and actually doing it are two different things. Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on the planet, and when you’ve got a 40 a day habit, it ain’t gonna be easy to just stop.
It all depends on the actual person too, but there is so much help out there nowadays. I know my mum was talking about getting one of those Vape things, and I will gladly buy her one. Her doctor has also offered to refer her to a stop smoking clinic.
The problem is, I live miles away from her, so can’t support her and encourage her to go. I’ve done a bit of research into it though, and I’ve found a brilliant book which, judging by the celebrity reviews, is the most effective way to kick the habit. I might just buy a copy and send it to her.
Is this too pushy?
Would she feel pressured?
Or would she be glad of a bit of gentle persuasion?
We shall see, but I have to do something. It’s been eating away at me for a while now, and, who knows, it might just work. I know that if she did manage to give up completely then it will benefit her in every way…not just for her health but financially too. I dread to think the money she’s spent on fags over the years, she could have bought a couple of houses by now!
Going back to those pictures on fag packets, I can see why the person suggested that the government need to put warning labels on junk food, and rightly so, but contrary to what she wrote, smoking kills millions of people globally each year.
And if one of those pictures makes a teenager think twice before lighting up for the first time, or a heavy smoker feel guilty into giving up after so many years of abuse, then they’re worth every penny.
Have you managed to give up smoking or helped someone else to do it? I’d love to hear how you managed it!