by Juseph Elas
In two of our classes in Advertising, there’s always this topic, a top-of-the-mind product, that will leave us aloof; save from the three amongst us who can relate to the topic at hand with wide-eye optimism. And the topic would always leave me curious to the point that I want to try it myself.
It’s always curious to see smokers enjoying every puff as if they are digesting it and it makes me wonder what’s running into their mind as the smoke invades the maze-like chambers of their lungs, filling the alveoli and, eventually, exhaling it like exhausts. It’s curious because, from my point of view, they are enjoying it like a kid enjoying every lick of his lollipop.
Being a media student, and working for a media outfit, who was and is constantly exposed to media materials that do not come short in educating the mass public about the dangers of smoking, people expect me to know better. But being raised by a family comprised of a father, who is a smoker, and a mother who didn’t fall short in warning us that if we smoke, she would buy us one rim of cigarettes, would light them up all together and would thrust it all at once into our mouths, the curiosity seems justified.
What is it with smoking, really?
To me, the probability of one becoming a smoker is due to influences and peer pressure. My father and my Advertising teacher corroborated that prognosis long before I conceived the urge to write about this. My father, who became a smoker since he was a teenager disclosed that it all began when that curious little urge took his consciousness over.
I don’t know what he was years before I came, but I can tell that my father knows what’s good and what’s bad. But he is the type of a guy that is constantly shoulder-to-shoulder with guys who are inebriated with vices and when you expose yourself to such environment, saying no to an offer would somehow cost you your masculinity and pride. That is why, I can’t say that the decision to start smoking was the biggest mistake of my father.
When I was growing up, I can remember my father asking me to buy a stick or two of Marlboro after he takes his dinner. As a kid, I never knew what that was for until I saw him lighting the end of the stick before placing the other end between his lips. The act was fascinating, which is why whenever I would buy stick-o at the store, before consuming it, I would imitate my father; I pretend to be smoking as well. But that fascination never led me to actually smoking a real cigar. Instead, it led me asking my father questions.
He went on to telling me that that bothered him because it might become one of the reasons to push us to smoke. Fortunately, none of us is smoking even if my brothers and I are surrounded with people who smoke. Or at least not yet. Personally, I am still scared of my mother and her threat. And I don’t want to disappoint a lot of people, too.
And I have this notion in mind that has stuck with me; one that would always be the reason for me to say no to such a vice. In addition, that notion goes like, I do not want to burn the hard-earned money my parents are giving me.
My father told me that smoking to him was more of a past-time pleasure. Working abroad and enduring the paralyzing horror of spending a great deal to be away from his family, smoking became one of his ways to make it through.
But I always have this astronomical respect to people who were able to stop smoking . . . like my Advertising teacher. She admitted that stopping it was like trying to know somebody you never met. But she gave it her best shot because she had a drive to do it – her friend was diagnosed with lung cancer because of smoking. And she stopped smoking to support her in the battle to live and fight the ailment.
I asked my father if he, like my Advertising teacher, plans to stop smoking. I might have got him off-guard with this question. If I was a smoker and I was asked this same question, I would think that the one asking me is indirectly asking me for a lifetime commitment right there and then.
“Hopefully, this year.” My father said.
The battle to fight the urge to smoke is like also like a battle to fight corruption in the government. It will be a Quixotic journey whereby you will have to dodge influences, fight peer pressure, learn to say no, abstain from thinking you miss it, avoid looking back and where one needs to fix every glitch on every curve.
I will be with my father in this battle. In cases like this, it’s very crucial that we give every support possible to be able to realize this cause. It will be a long way, but with wide-eye optimism, nothing is impossible.