Stickman Readers' Submissions March 10th, 2008

My Favorite Hate

Two words that have no right to be seen together, how about we try “The thing I hate most.”

mens clinic bangkok

In this day and age of environmental awareness, the pollution that affects me most on a day to day basis is the deliberate and wilful burning of tobacco. Wherever I go there is at least one addict getting their pleasure from inhaling their drug of choice with the inevitable effect that all those around them get a share. You will note I have written addict. Most smokers will deny they are addicted but I will say this to you. “If you are not an addict then you are a bloody idiot.” What possible sane reason could there be for inhaling a drug that has been proven, without a shadow of a doubt, to kill 50% of users? Yes that’s right, there is plenty of research to show that half of all smokers, if they continue to smoke, will die from smoking related diseases. Hell, war has a better survival rate than that.

I have felt this way for many years so what has prompted me to do a rant at this time?

I got an email this week telling me that a friend, a long time smoker, has just died of lung cancer. He is the second friend this year to suffer the same fate and both were younger than me.

There are hundreds if not thousands of websites out there that tell you exactly what smoking does to the human body, some in gory detail with colored photos so why do people still do it and why do young people take it up?

Deniability is a good excuse for those already addicted. “My grandmother was a smoker and she lived to 99 without a day’s sickness in her life.” Ever heard something like that? So half of you will get away with it, only one barrel of the shotgun is loaded, how lucky are you?

A true story. In a small community close to where I lived before coming to LOS there was a woman, a community leader in her 50's who was dying of lung cancer from her lifelong smoking habit. She had a son who was a TV producer and she prevailed on him to make a documentary about the last few months of her life in an attempt to show the young people what would probably happen to them if they smoked. I remember watching this documentary with a group of friends that included a woman who was a contemporary of the dying lady. She was also a smoker and her comments at the end “It was very sad but they had the cheek to try to blame it on smoking.” She was in complete denial of the message from what she had just watched for an hour. Yes, she is now also dead from a smoking related disease.

People of my generation and the one before have an excuse for taking up the habit as there was little known about the harmful effects then. During WW2 tobacco was given out to troops as it was considered good for calming the nerves before and I suppose during battle. Made for more compliant cannon fodder, I guess.

wonderland clinic

So what of the young? Why do they take it up? Well if they are unfortunate enough to be born to smoking parents with a mother who smokes throughout pregnancy they will be born addicts. You will find plenty of supporting evidence for that on the web. However reason should tell you that as the fetus shares its mothers blood supply it is also getting a daily dose of the chemicals circulating therein. There are also other detrimental effects such as lower birth weight and not thriving as well but here I am talking about the built in addiction.

After birth the child will get a daily dose of the drug from what is called second-hand smoke from the parents but then one day, in a few years, it will be taken out of the smoke filled house and put into a school room, the first time in a short life it has had a smoke free day. Seems to me, as a non teacher, that kids of smoking families must be disruptive in class or at least not as responsive as smoke free kids. Perhaps Stick or some other teacher has experience with this? <I am not trained to teach kids of that age so sorry, I just don't knowStick>

And the others; well peer pressure, boyfriend, girlfriend, friends get them started. You don’t smoke, what are you a wimp or something? And so the filthy stupid habit goes on. The good news is that only 25% of people smoke and that this is dropping, perhaps the message is getting through.

Where I come from they introduced smoke free legislation about 4 years ago and some of the howls and screams from bar owners in particular were almost human. “It will send us broke, 90% of our customers are smokers” and why is that? Well non smokers don’t go there because of the smoke. So what actually happened? Business picked up, didn’t it, because the 75% who don’t smoke could now go have a drink in a smoke free environment.

I see there are now supposedly non smoking laws in this country with the same reaction from bar owners and no doubt the same end result. I read in Stick’s latest column that the bars in Bangkok don’t seem to be any emptier. I wonder when the smoke free thing will spread to bars and restaurants in other parts of the country and how it will be policed. The cops in most places I have been seem to disappear after dark.

And on the pollution side, you never hear about that, coal fired power stations, cars, planes yep every day but tobacco never. When I turned on TV to get the BBC news the other day I got the tail end of a documentary on tobacco production in France and they said that 80,000 tons of tobacco was burnt in France each year. I won’t attempt to look up the world consumption but it must equate to a serious amount of smoke and carcinogenic material. So why do we hear nothing on pollution from tobacco smoke?

I suspect governments get far too much revenue from the drug and then politicians are people to (I have that on good authority) so 25% will be tobacco addicts same as the rest of the population.

Then there are the butts that litter the ground almost everywhere you care to look down mai dee leui.

Why is it that smokers seem to think they have some sort of a right to pollute the air the rest of us must breathe? Sure they see it as their pleasure and why would anyone want stop someone else’s enjoyment? Well how about if I got pleasure from going round spitting or pissing for that matter in smokers' beer. I would have to be a lot bigger to start with but wouldn’t there be some screams. It’s OK to pollute the air I have to breathe but not OK to pollute the beer they don’t have to drink. OK, they have to buy beer and air is free and I can always go away. But why should I be the one to move when it is not me that is causing the problem?

I have no deep religious convictions that would lead me to believe that I will get another go at life or end up in a heaven or paradise. To me I have this life and that is it. It is a life I enjoy and want to prolong so I try to avoid things that may shorten it including other peoples drug habits.

I try to live as jai yen yen as possible in this country but the one thing I won’t put up with is having tobacco smoke blown over me. In order to avoid inhaling the crap I never go into enclosed restaurants and very rarely enclosed bars. In the past if I went into said bars I always went early before there were many people there and made a point of sitting under the air-con so any smoke is blown away from me. If I pass a smoker in the street I hold my breath and if one comes to sit close to me I move. Not a perfect solution as I still sometimes get a lungful of the filth from an unexpected source but the best I can do at the moment.

I read somewhere that the only problem with smoking is that it doesn’t kill quick enough. I can’t help agreeing with that if it killed in say 2 to 3 years then it wouldn’t take too long to be banned completely.

Oh and incidentally, you may think you smoke but it’s the stinking little white thing you have sticking out of your mouth that smokes, you’re only the sucker on the end.

Bushman Bill

Stickman's thoughts:

The no smoking legislation in Thailand is being enforced with the usual inconsistencies. Doing a round up in Bangkok, in most regular (non bargirl) bars the new laws are enforced and there are no smoking signs erected with staff told to enforce the rule. In the naughty bar areas, Patpong is a smoker's haven, as are most bars in Nana. Soi Cowboy is smoke free.

nana plaza