Health, Wealth and Slavery


If I look back at why I quit smoking just over four years ago, I would say that it was driven by the desire to break away from the slavery, even though an unforeseen health scare precipitated my action to quit.  Wealth, or expense if you prefer, didn’t even come into the picture.

When people first start smoking, health issues are the furthest things from their minds. The average young adult doesn’t think about what cigarettes are doing to their bodies. Wealth is just a matter of getting some money together to afford the next pack, buying some rolling tobacco, or scrounging a few here and there from friends. Slavery isn’t even a consideration. Addiction is something that happens to others.  Besides, smoking is legal, so how bad can it really be?

Roll on a few years, and people start realizing that they’re hooked. “OK, so it’s addictive, and I will stop in the near future” they say to themselves.  On the plus side, there are no signs of health issues.  No serious health issues, that is.  Everybody gets a cold, and some mild wheezing in winter is to be expected. The expense is bearable, just about. Slavery rears its ugly head, but so long as there is hope in quitting one day, it’s all still under the smoker’s control.

And yet a few more years later and the wheezing and coughing is still there, although more frequently. Some shortness of breath while doing simple tasks starts to appear. But, overall the health is still OK. Smoking is still affordable, even if we struggle a little. There is always a way to get the nicotine fix, because that is what it has become; a fix. The realization that we really are addicted to smoking starts to creep in. We attempt to stop, once, twice, maybe a few times, but somehow things don’t work out. Something always prevents us from quitting, so we start smoking again.

We get frustrated, but at least we’re not dying of some hideous illness, yet.  We’re worried about cancer and emphysema, but only when we actually take the time to think about it. Luckily, our overall well-being hasn’t really been impacted so far. We continue to smoke, despite knowing the worsening health risks. We know from experience that we can afford to smoke.  It’s the damned slavery that really starts hitting home. “I don’t enjoy being bound by these chains. I want out!”

My partner has often told me that health-wise, nothing is wrong until it is. As I have written about before, we don’t know what is going wrong inside our bodies until it manifests itself in the form of symptoms. That’s what happened to me. I woke up one morning with a deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) in my left leg and subsequently had to spend ten days in hospital.  I was convinced that it was self-induced from smoking, even if the doctor’s declined to comment on the correlation, other than telling me “It’s time you quit smoking.”

On the face of it, in my case health trumped slavery. I was absolutely sick of being tied down to smoking and all that it entailed, but the health ‘incident’ happened before I could take action against being a slave. Would I have kicked the habit if it hadn’t been for the DVT?  I don’t rightfully know because I wasn’t given the choice. All I know is that I’m glad that the health scare wasn’t cancer. Either way, I’m a happy non-smoker these days.

To conclude, I don’t believe that wealth (or expense) should ever be used as a primary reason to quit smoking, because people will always find a way to obtain cheap tobacco. Health and slavery, on the other hand, should always be high on the agenda of reasons to quit. In fact, I would venture to say that you should seriously consider fighting the slavery first, before any health issues tear you down.

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