I remember the day I started smoking.
I used to cycle home from school with my good friend John [Names have not been changed to protect the guilty]. It was a long old cycle-ride and I used to stop off at John’s house for a while before heading on home in my own.
One day, for no particular reason, we stopped off at a small sweet shop and [at John’s suggestion] bought two cigarettes. We brought our illicit cargo down to an old chicken shed at the back of John’s house and lit up.
I have heard tales of people being sick after their first smoke but it wasn’t like that with me. I liked it. It gave a nice little buzz and I quite liked the taste too. Add to that the fact that we were doing something that would meet with wide scale disapproval and it became an enjoyable experience.
I mention this little tale to illustrate a few facts.
We hear lots these days from the Tobacco Control Industry about the tobacco companies targeting children, but they certainly didn’t target me! Up until then, I was completely unaware of cigarette advertising. I do remember advertisements showing airline pilots enjoying a smoke [was it Benson & Hedges? Consulate? Can’t remember] but that meant nothing to me and I never tried smoking whatever brand it was. In fact I couldn’t even tell you what brand my first smoke was as it was sold singly.
We hear shed-loads of hysteria about children buying cigarettes because of the “fancy colourful displays”, and their latest – the “fancy colourful packs” which are apparently designed to attract children, or so they say. I can assure you that my first smoke was not the result of any displays or packets [seeing as I never saw the packet the cigarette came from].
I started smoking for two reasons – because my friends did and because it was “naughty”.
I appreciate that selling individual cigarettes is now illegal but even if it had been illegal at the time, we more than likely would have pooled our cash and bought a pack [thereby guaranteeing that my first cigarette wouldn’t be my last as I would have had at least nine more to smoke].
When I did start buying my own cigarettes in packs, I smoked [as far as I remember] Country Life. Again, it had damn all to do with advertising or fancy displays and packets. It was a choice based on one single factor – price.
I would imagine that my little story is pretty typical? I would go so far as to say that through the generations the story is being repeated time and time again.
one aspect that does strike me though is that not one of the laws imposed by the Tobacco Control Industry would have prevented anything.
Just the opposite.
They have increased the “naughty” element to new lofty heights.