Talk around town: When the quitter is the braver

May 31, 2024 - 07:23
This is an article for those who knew how bad the little rolls of papers are and are finding ways to get rid of them. This is about why we smoke and debunking those very reasons that we kept putting up to keep smoking.
VNS Illustration Trịnh Lập

Anh Đức

I remember it quite well. It was a summer night in 2000, when I was five and strolling down with my father in the park.

The middle-aged man pulled out a yellow box from his pocket, with dozens of small rolls of papers in brown and white. Right in front of my face, he proceeded to pull out a red lighter, and burn a roll of paper on one end, with his mouth firmly stuck to the other end.

A white cloud started to form and flew towards my face and I sneezed hard. I knew what I had inhaled in was no good.

My dad was one of the 1.25 billion inhabitant of the 'nicotine nation', a nation with a population rivalling China and India, where the occupant might not enjoy a happy life, but a life of suffering.

And you, dear reader, might be one of these 1.25 billion people. If that is the case, this is an article that you should read.

Perhaps you had already known well about the science behind cigarettes, how they affect the smoker's health etc. It's even written clearly on the packaging of the products should you choose not to ignore it, so that's not a story that I want to yap about.

This is an article for those who know how bad the little rolls of papers are and are finding ways to get rid of them. This is about why we tend to smoke and debunking those very reasons that we kept putting up to carry on smoking.

A primary reason for new smokers, especially young ones, is to be perceived as 'cool' and 'hip'. Young adults nowadays tend to carry around either a pack of cigarettes, or a fancy new vape or pod - names used for electronic cigarettes products.

But is it really cool for people to blow fumes from their mouths into others' faces in a manner similar to spitting? Is it hip to walk around with a mouth full of bad breath and a yellow teeth? I don't think so.

For some smokers, it is to relieve stress and depression, which is also a common reason in substance abusers. Sure, I know when the high kicks in, all the pain, anger and sadness go away, but when the high withdraws, what happens? That negative stuff returns, with double the damage, making you crave to chase all those bad feelings away, so we return to that thing that gets us high, in this case, cigarettes. And thus forms an endless loop of doom, where nothing gets better in the long run, but rather, worse.

And when you smoke so much that it becomes a behavioural addiction, that is when you did not come for the nicotine, but for that feel-good notion of having something in your mouth, which is way worse because you don't even seek the stress relief, only the relief to scratch that itchy habit, which would be really dumb because it defeats the initial reasons of why you smoke in the first place.

But you know what's dumber? Some people are even saying smoking helps them lose weight. Sure it can, but only when you end up in chemo.

If you are a reader of Việt Nam News, I know you are smart. And smart people know when to quit.

Sure there would be struggle at the start, but if it's life, it is hard. It's never too late and you can get back your life, your health, your future.

And if you ever think why you should quit, think about your loved ones.

An example of this is Polish triathlon Jerzy Gorski, who was a drug addict for thirteen years, with almost no way out. Only when Gorski knew about his young daughter who was kept away from him, did he muster the courage to go into a rehab camp and began a grueling journey to return to his loved ones. After rehab, Gorski trained for the Ironman competitions and marathons, hoping to prove to himself that he is healthy and strong to protect his daughter. He eventually won a Double Ironman tournament in the US in 1990, after twenty-four hours of swimming, cycling and running.

Going back to that day in 2000, when I saw my dad puffing out the smoke, I tapped him gently on the shoulder and told him: "Dad, please don't smoke. I don't like daddy when daddy smoke." Ever since that day, my dad never even touched a cigarette, despite being a heavy smoker for almost thirty years, dating back to when he was in the Army.

That is a story that I've always proudly shared with others, because it shows that how our dear ones can help us muster the strength to do what seems impossible. It also served as a cautionary tale for myself, as I have never got close to a cigarette in my life.

And I do hope that our children in the future will live in a world with no smoking, as all the smokers have become brave people, brave parents and have quit. VNS