I deserve to be heard!

Last night I celebrated St Patrick’s Day like the rest of the world – drinking terrible beer and wearing silly green hats.  And like an Irishman to potatoes, redcalifornia here needed her nicotine hit to complement the beer drinking. I bought a packet of Marlboro lights and when I ripped open the foil packaging, I found this card:

front

Back

The front of the card depicted a scene that smokers are all too familiar with – huddled together, looking cold, miserable and lost as a result of being treated like pariahs due to their unfortunate habit. The back side explained what this was all about. It was a campaign called “I Deserve To Be Heard” calling for smokers to unite against all the barriers we’re faced with in order to indulge in our dirty habit. It was essentially a campaign organised by the cigarette manufacturers to fight back for our right to smoke! My first thought was, is this even legal?

Gone are the days of when we used to see commercials or billboards of the hunky Marlboro man light up, then jumping on his horse riding away into the sunset as he enjoys the flavour of his chosen tobacco.  Nowadays, with advertising and sponsorship bans, It makes me wonder what kind of things go on in the boardroom when marketing execs of tobacco companies get together to discuss advertising campaigns for their products. I imagined a scene similar to the one in the satirical movie Thank You For Smoking, where Aaron Eckhart (who plays a tobacco company executive who makes his living defending the rights of smokers in an effort to increase sales) and his boss yells at the marketing staff: “People, what is going on out there? I look down this table, all I see are white flags. Our numbers are down all across the board. Teen smoking, our bread and butter, is falling like a shit from heaven! We don’t sell Tic Tacs for Christ’s sake. We sell cigarettes. And they’re cool and available and *addictive*. The job is almost done for us!”. Of course,  I don’t think this is exactly how it goes down, but I can imagine the challenges that a marketing manager might have over at Philip Morris in these modern anti-smoking times.

But I digress. So, after some more thought (and another cigarette), I realised this little card hidden in my ciggy packet could may well be the start of a revolution by smokers. I agree with the need for the government and health officials to warn us of the dangers of smoking and to discourage all of us from taking up the habit – and I’m happy to put up with being exposed to nasty ciggy packet pictures of deformed feet or rotten lungs every time I reach for a smoke (so as long as its not a photo of a dead baby fetus, like they have in Argentina!) – however I am disturbed that there are many groups and individuals who make it their own personal mission to vilify smokers – there are even groups in the States that campaign for smokers not to be allowed to adopt children, or even be employed – these people seem to believe that our choice to smoke makes us undeserving of a having normal life.

So I do think its important we smokers get our say too. We’ve put up with the rising prices and taxes. We put up with the smoking bans from the restaurant, bar, pub, beach, cars, everywhere. We put up with being treated like diseased second class citizens, like drug addicts, who are constantly exposed to a barrage of criticism and naysayers. I’m a good person. I’d like to think I’m a good member of society – I love my family, I contribute to charity, I work hard, am intelligent, kind to others, recycle my bottles and generally am a decent human being. But to some people, as soon as I tell them I am a smoker, their perceptions stop them from seeing who I really am, because I’m immediately stereotyped as a non-healthy, lazy, dirty, slacker. Believe it or not, I do know that smoking is damaging to my health, and possibly to others, but I do also have manners – I don’t light up indoors, or in front of children. I make it a point to respect those I’m with who don’t like the smell of smoke to not light up around them, or ask their permission if I want to. I treat non-smokers with the same dignity and respect that I hope to be treated in return, regardless of whether I am a smoker or not. Unfortunately some people are all to quick to judge.

The laws have forced us all outside in the cold, both in the physical sense but in a larger metaphorical sense. We cough up to $17 for  a packet for the honour of being treated as social outcasts, lepers and child abusers. And Im kind of glad I discovered this campaign – because we do deserve to be heard.

I hope one day that smokers and non-smokers can live in harmony;  I believe its just all about using common sense. I agree no one should have to put up with my second-hand smoke when they’re trying to eat a meal, but I think I abso-frickin-lutely should have the right to have a smoke while I’m drinking my gin and tonic at a bar, and shouldn’t have to feel guilty while doing it.

If you’re a smoker, check out the site – www.ideservetobeheard.com.au. If you’re not, then I’ll await the barrage of criticism I’m sure to get about this post.

P.S. Just to be clear – In no way am I glorifying smoking, or support that anyone – especially children – take up smoking.

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24 Comments on “I deserve to be heard!”

  1. Victoria Wood says:

    i am a smoker who desperatly wants to quit you pack of idiots. This is not about the rights of smokers, this is about Phillip Morris continuing to market an addictive and deadly product. i am ashamed of small children and young people seeing me smoke so I think the less oppotunity I have will hopefully aid my quest to live and see my children grow up. Quite right, if I was unaware of the cigarettes I purchased this would probably deter me further. We are addicts at the mercy of a company that profits from addiction misery and ultimately death. If heroin was your product you would be shut down. Don’t patronise people by saying it is our choice. No sane individual would choose death over life to profit another. I know you’re not, but you should be ashamed of yourselves.

    • Mark says:

      just quit or moderate your smoking if you like… good for you… hope you find a happy outcome… use your self control …don’t be ashamed of your smoking habits, your human… it’s your civil right to smoke and live a happy normal life…
      if you don’t like to smoke around others, move away… if you don’t like passive smoke, move away… it’s the same with everything… but feel free to stand up for your right to choose your lifestyle…
      let’s look at the big picture, cause it’s all interconnected…
      there is plenty of information out there for everyone to fear smoking… fear this, fear that… don’t believe all you see, hear, and read, especially tv… it’s pure entertainment… find out for yourself…
      use your common sense… everything in moderation… too much of anything will harm you eventually…
      …you know already that nobody gets out alive anyway… everybody dies… smoking is here to stay forever, like it or not… get over it…
      find a better cause to follow like “feed the starving children of the world” …lobby the government over that one and see how far you get…
      remember…the systems survival relies on controlling the population by passive agression and use of fear… you are more usefull to the government at home in your box, non socializing, living a long life in fear, paying off your huge system legislated loans for the good of “economic growth” …it’s the price we pay for our medievil form of government – democracy, which leads to a monopoly of power.
      …i guess we haven’t evolved past greed yet… but we will…
      …we are slowly being over governed…
      …when will australians rise up for a “bill of rights”?
      …for how long are these ever increasing, anti freedom civil laws giong to be implemented? 50, 100, 200, 500 years?
      …i don’t think so… the people will revolt and revolution will occur sooner than that… read your history…
      …a more social way of life will return… change will come, it’s the only thing that’s certain…
      …anti smoking laws? you know what’s next on the hit list my friends? internet censorship, alcohol control and microchipped human beings…
      …think i’ll enjoy a nice long cigarette now because i choose to…
      …keep up the fight cigarette companies…
      …you are the last defenders of civil liberties and your supporters are gathering…

  2. margaret smith says:

    i am a smoker and a lot of our rights have been taken away from us because u smoke the only way to stop people from smoking is stop the people from growing it but no this wont happen because the government makes to much out of it so why does the government go on about our smoking

  3. I’m a smoker so’s my wife,were pensioners so this HYPOCRITICAL TAX really hurts. How can they justify punishing us in all ways they can think of, Then take donations from Tobacco companies as the libs do.these hypocrits also have their supers invested within the industry as well.I know smoking is bad 4 me,I also know Obesity is fast becoming the biggest health problem in this country.I know eating fast food is not always the reason 4 someone being obese.However if I have to pay a huge tax for inhaling smoke, why don’t those who shove fat down their throaths.When I go to vote I get my name crossed off then walk out .why? Well what drug dealers do is they keep putting the price up, they don’t care if hurts they just want to make heaps of money sound familira.

  4. Joe McDoewll says:

    you are an idiot you are talking rubish its to late now? last i heard smoking was legal wats your problem? smokers have rights to ya know. Joe McDowell

    • victoria wood says:

      Joe I am not an ex-smoker yet. I am only somebody who respects the rights of other people and when I become a non-smoker, hope that other people will respect my choice and help to influence a healthier society. Please tell me this not a bad thing Joe.

  5. Joe McDoewll says:

    I agree what about the drugos they get free needles and shoot up rooms for free and that is illigal.

  6. BoB Hooper says:

    g’day people smokers,

    in the days of the 3×5’s my father told me not to smoke yet i did and

    it was legal, i was only 14 at the time and now im 55 years young.i

    still smoke if i can find a place to do it..it’s either to cold and wet

    with no place to sit down and enjoy a coffee and read the paper at a

    table . i drove 30kl to a footy

    games without having a smoke(the car had no cigarette lighter)and on

    arriving i felt like one, so after finding the smoking area out side of

    the grounds with no seats and a bake-bean tin as an ashtray with no tv

    screen to view the game as i like to have a smoke while watching

    footy. i thought wouldent it be nice to beable to be out of the wind

    and cold sitting down on a seat viewing the big wide screen nibbling

    on some chips & nuts with me mates cheering for our team, and not to

    mention the great ash trays that we all miss. if i win lotto i will

    build a place for none smokers.. out side in the wind and cold with

    no seats no food no drinks no large tv screen no entertainment and no

    nice ashtrays, it is a goverment taxed item and legal to

    smoke. there are more places that the goverment keeps comming up with

    to stop us smokers from smokeing, soon there will be no where to smoke Ha I

    wounder where they will pick up the tax then…..arrr what happend to the days

    with the 3×5’s and my faveret Viscount cigaret.

    hoops

    • Joe McDoewll says:

      G’day fellow smoker finaly somebody with sence, I fully agree where has the democrocy gone from this lucky country? Joe

  7. victoria wood says:

    love your work julian

    • Joe McDoewll says:

      you ex smokers are the worst on critersising us smokers, what about drugos they get free needles and free shoot up rooms for there illegal habbit. Grow up and smell the coffee. If the govenment was serious about smokers why dont they just ban them, then people like you would pay more taxes on everything, would you like that, i dont think so? so get off our backes and get a life. Joe

  8. Joe McDoewll says:

    You must be stupid or something we don’t live in china or korea, we live in AUSTRALIA we have a right to voice our opinions here, so we choose to smoke you non smokers choose not to well so be it, but leave us to make up our own minds up. And the Government should do the same back off with all the bullshit about taxes and telling us where we can or can’t smoke. I smoke where i like and ignore there laws nobody at hospitals has the power to stop us. The police and ambos all smoke at the hospitals. Even the minister for health here in Canberra didn’t say anything to me when she seen me smoking at hospital she walked straight past me the other day, so the laws mean nothing at all, smokers light up anywhere you please.

    • victoria wood says:

      Joe maybe you would feel differently if one of your loved ones became infected with a terminal illness brought on by stepping on a discarded needle on a beach. Can you not see that smoking in areas where people are exposed is exactly the same. No one is debating your right to smoke we do live in a democracy where persons who choose to smoke may. In saying that, persons who choose not to smoke have the right to not be exposed. Would it be different if we said children shoud be kept from the beach so addicts can discard their syringes. This is not about what is legal and what is not Joe, its about respecting other people and doing the right thing.

      • Joe McDoewll says:

        You are right but if people don’t like where i smoke they have the option of moving away and you non smokers are only a minority anyway. I will continue to smoke where i wish till they ban them and they won’t so get over it.

    • Joe McDoewll says:

      I was right the first time you are an idiot, I would like to lite up sitting next to you. Then you could prove how tough you think you are, get a life and leave us smokers alone.

  9. Joe McDoewll says:

    You are an idiot, where do you get those stats from? no one has ever asked me or people i know to be in any survey they proberbly only ask all NON SMOKERS like you. You are only against us [legal] smokers, Don’t tell me you have ever smoked or used drugs, if the answer is no then you are a bloody liar as well?

  10. Aaron says:

    I joined up on the site and in the section where they asked to share your story about how you’ve been discriminated against as a smoker and how it’s ‘affected you’ I left the following:

    In regards to smoking I’ve actually been affected in the ways of twitching in my sleep and headaches when I try and stop smoking. My lungs have also been greatly affected. As were the lungs of my grandmother who died of lung cancer due to smoking. Her death makes me inability to quit after four attempts over the twenty years greatly upsetting as I sometimes envision myself dying in the same horrifying undignified manner that she did. The ‘affects’ I have mentioned above are a million miles more damaging than things like banning of smoking in outdoor public places, excessive government taxes on cigarettes, and the threat of plain packaging of cigarettes. I believe I deserve to be heard as much as anyone, so I expect that this contribution is read and taken seriously by you. QUIT PEDDLING YOUR POISONOUS DESTRUCTIVE PRODUCT!

  11. Aaron says:

    BTW I’m not sure why everyone is replying to ‘Joe McDoewll’ – he shows the classic symptoms of an internet troll (and his surname isn’t actually even spelt correctly – classic sign of a teen troll).

    Meaning:
    In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

  12. Joe McDowell says:

    You happy about my name it was a typo, this site is not for you people it is for us smokers. So I havn’t had the scooling you people have but i get by, as for taxes i have paid for at least 10 operations over and over again.Aaron keep your personal attacks to yourself, and as for Julian just do what you want and leave me to do what I want I have never believed in those stats they are just putting numbers on paper.

  13. Joe McDowell says:

    Ok have your say and we will have ours typical ex smokers, I still say this government is the worst in the western world with there taxes, you would have to agree there, not only on smokes where the tax is over 200 percent, I wouldn’t be betting you have a winge about the taxes on fuel or all living expences.

  14. Trent says:

    To Julian.
    Please stop.

    You actions throughout this board have been a little immature.

    Now to start
    I am a smoker.

    I respect people who do not smoke. I will even raise my cigarettes and not exhale if there is a child nearby, i will move.

    But the simple fact is this all comes down to Civil liberties. My Actions and My responsibility. Smoking is legal. Therefore only limited constraints can be put in place. Until it is made illegal all your comments you have made are quite irrelevant.

    Also, you cannot impose your views forcefully on to someone.

    Now for the argument.
    Yes smoking is bad for you.
    Yes smoking can cause and early death.
    Yes there is extensive research into the dangers of smoking for both first and second hand smoke.
    But ITS LEGAL. If i wish to persist through these dangers so i can have my (relax) cigarette then its my choice. It’s not the tobacco company’s fault its my own. As for the removal of where i can and cannot, the outdoors are a Public place and therefor my civil right should not be infringed.

    Now. Lets settle down and have a debate without the name calling and abusive language.

    I will leave you with this.
    1. People who want to smoke will smoke.
    2. People who want to quite will do so.
    3. All the government is doing is providing free advertising for the tobacco company
    4. Think like teenager. If people are angry and against it (like the government) it cool to do
    5. Its Legal.

    Thanks.
    Trent

    • Trent says:

      Well actually. I took about 3 hours to read and re-read, The reason why you were singled out is that you always seemed to be in each and everyone argument. So hence i singled you out. You can view this as either and attack or the fact you arguments were this predominant throughout the course of this board i need to single you out to have such a debate. And yes i read your last one “I’m Done” but if you were i wouldn’t have gotten a reply. But i acknowledge that you were done “feeding the trolls” so to speak.

      Now yes i may not have properly structure my paragraphing, sorry. The “argument” section is for anyone and everyone. But the first type is to you as your post was/is the first to use abusive language.

      Ok Now that i have your attention. You can simply post “No thankyou” and i will stop posting here as there is no one else to debate with.

      On the topic of Tax. I am assuming you know that not all “funding” is made clear. So Money that is accepted from the tobacco companies will not be noted/cared about. Without going into conspiracy theory’s lets skip ahead to the general consumer. Right now they are paying more then the normal “GST” which when the “Howard” government introduced this, it was suppose to be the “only” tax on any item. So how is it justifiable to raise anything above the 10% tax for goods and services.

      The government is making quite a a bit of smokers and the tobacco companies due to your majority. Because they are “picking” on the minority and justifying it with graphic images and thee dangers people turn a blind eye and i have even seen, people who have adopted this mind set that smokers are “evil”, ridicule a smoker who was not doing anything wrong.

      So. points.
      1. Is it fair to tax more when there is “meant” to be a tax system in place to prevent the overtaxing of items that
      2. Is what the government doing right, indirectly creating a mind set that smokers should be but down and perceived as lower in society.

      Thanks. Trent

      Ps. Sorry if we got off on the wrong foot.

  15. Trent says:

    Ok Julian. Sorry to have bothered you.


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