Sunday, June 17, 2012

Who's Responsible For Your Addiction?

Let's take a closer look at the phrase "personal responsibility" on this Father's Day.

I want to point something out about this phrase because I believe it's one of the bullshit mantras used by the tobacco industry, their henchmen, or their minions to reflect blame for smokers' addictions off of themselves, and onto the backs of the nicotine addicts they've created.

Big Tobacco wants you to believe that YOU are the reason why you cannot stop smoking. They want you to believe that you had "A CHOICE" about whether or not to become a smoker, and that you are "personally responsibility" for your addiction. But, that's far from the truth.

The truth almost always lies in the data and statistics. Research has shown (pdf) that approximately 90% of adult smokers became regular smokers when they were in still their teen years. So then, should we hold children personally responsible for becoming nicotine addicts? Of course not!

Every adult knows that preteens and teens aren't mentally capable of making rational, nor even legal, decisions or "choices" about events or situations that could negatively impact their lives forever. Even some young adults still aren't fully capable of making rational decisions.

We know that children can't yet realize when they're being exploited. Only retrospectively do adults realize that while in our formative years our minds aren't fully developed, our social skills are still rudimentary, and that we easily fall prey to lies, manipulation and exploitation.

Unfortunately, it's only after children smokers reach adulthood when they come to fully realize that smoking is harmful and addictive. But by then, they've already become addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes. As adult addicts, they've lost a significant portion of their ability to make a choice to quit.

Of course, the tobacco industry then washes their hands of the problem they created by saying that it's your own "personal responsibility" to continue to smoke or not. But, who's really responsible?

Now, here's the rub that galls me to no end -

Although you now know that you're not fully responsible for becoming a nicotine addict in your youth, and even though your genetic makeup may make it more difficult (or even impossible) to quit, the end responsibility for quitting smoking does fall on your shoulders. Yes, you've been screwed by all of the people you thought were looking out for you.

Your parents dropped the ball in your childhood. The government didn't step up to the plate. And your friends? They probably helped you get started smoking. And YOU didn't realize that you were being manipulated and exploited until it was too late. You've been stuck with being responsible for killing the monster that you had little responsibility in creating!

I know, it sucks. Welcome to the real world.

So, if you don't want to suffer the physical, mental, and financial consequences often associated with being a long-term smoker, and as difficult as it may be to beat your addiction, guess what? You also have NO CHOICE but to attempt quitting. The only bright side is that you CAN succeed, and that you CAN enlist some free help to get you there.

Oh yeah, and Happy Father's Day.

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