No, really!! OK, so not really. Maybe, I’m misquoting myself.
What I should say is, “if you’re going to smoke at all, smoke a pipe, or cigars, it’s more responsible than cigarettes.”
Lately, my catch phrase has been “harm reduction”. Discouraging people from smoking in this highly stressful world, maybe, isn’t the best idea. Maybe, smoking is the only relief from stress that some people get in their day.
There are even doctors who agree with me.
Dr. Gabriela Segura, M.D. wrote in her December 2012 article Nicotine – The Zombie Antidote;
“…as a doctor, I don’t discourage patients from smoking in this increasingly stressful world. I do encourage them to choose organic tobacco and papers, or to go back to the old traditional ways of smoking pipes or cigars.”
Dr. Segura graduated from the University of Milan as a heart surgeon.
Other scientists are starting to agree as well, and we are learning that there is a surprising number of benefits to nicotine.
Nicotine has been shown to have benefits in everything from Parkinson’s to Alzheimer’s to Schizophrenia and Depression. It is generally understood and accepted that nicotine helps with controlling obesity, and new scientific evidence was starting to display that.
Now you’re asking, “so, what are you saying here Erin, smoking is good for you?!”
Of course not! But, then again, neither is barbecued meat.
“So, cigarettes are only as bad for you as charred meat?”
No!! You are missing the point! Smoke a pipe, or cigars, because cigarettes are evil!
OK, OK, maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
The point of this article is “harm reduction”. It is my firm contention that the answer to the smoking problem does not lie in quitting, but rather in harm reduction.
According to common knowledge, cigarettes are more addictive than heroin. So, if that’s the case, why are we treating those who can’t quit smoking cigarettes like there is something wrong with them? Some time ago in North America we began taking the stance on heroin addicts that we need to reduce harm rather than obliterate heroin addiction with draconian laws that treat addicts like criminals. Towards this end, we have the methadone program and safe injection sites run by nurses, doctors, and pharmacists.
Methadone is not “safe”, as a matter of fact many people die from it every year, and people have been known to die at safe injection sites, but a whole lot fewer people die from it than they do from overdosing on heroin in a truck stop restroom.
That, is the essence of “harm reduction”. Take a stance on addiction that doesn’t treat the addict like some sort of criminal that needs to be locked away, but rather someone who need our assistance.
As many of us who’ve come off cigarettes, and many of us who still are using them, can tell you; cigarettes, and quitting them, often takes more willpower than we have. Without a regular dose of “cigarette”, you become quite nasty tempered and irritable.
People will try to tell you that it’s the nicotine that you’re craving, but I am here to tell you that it’s not.
As I transitioned from cigarettes to pipes and the occasional cigar, I was smoking about a pack a day. I got my hands on some very high quality pipe tobacco, and as the cravings would hit me, I would light up my pipe. You see, the first thing is, my wife has an allergic reaction to cigarettes that she does not have to pipes or cigars. That tells me something right there! So, we tried numerous experiments; first I tore up a cigarette and put the tobacco in my pipe. No joy! She still had an allergic reaction. Then, I got my hands on some all natural tobacco from American Spirit, and I loaded that in my pipe. That did the trick! No allergic reaction! Of course, the tobacco tastes like greased arse holes, but at least I could smoke it around my wife.
Also, we discovered that with high quality pipe tobacco, not only did my wife not have an allergic reaction; she actually enjoyed the taste and began taking the occasional pull on my pipe.
So, just before winter in 2013, my wife took to letting me smoke my pipe in the house; I was overjoyed!
As I would get a craving for a “smoke” I would pack and light my pipe, sit at the kitchen table, and enjoyed the smoke. 10 minutes later, I was still craving a cigarette! So, I would usually mooch one off my husband and head outside and smoke it, in the cold and the weather. All the time I was smoking a cigarette, I was thinking what an idiot I was. I mean, I just finished a great pipe, in the comfort of my own home, and here I am immediately thereafter standing outside smoking a fag. IDIOT!
Furthermore, cigarettes are specifically designed to be a rapid release system of nicotine into the body, unlike a pipe or a cigar. So, what was happening is; I was smoking my pipe, satisfying the nicotine craving, but not the chemical craving that you get from the rest of the cigarette. So then I would go outside and smoke a cigarette to satisfy the chemical craving, and I would get too much nicotine, and therefore feel slightly nauseous.
Because of this nausea, eventually, the cravings for the chemicals in the cigarettes went away. And now over a year later, I do not even crave cigarettes anymore.
“Erin, what does all this matter, smoking is smoking, am I right?”
Well, apparently not. I did a little study into the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee’s Report on Smoking and Health, and dug up a few facts that people aren’t aware.
Now, before I get up on my soapbox, you can read my thoughts on this in this article called, “Why Pipes and Cigars are not the Villain”, but suffice it to say, the evidence does not support that the use of pipes or cigars, in any way, compares to the dangers of cigarettes.
OK, my American friends, and those who order their tobacco from the States; why is there no Surgeon General’s warning on pipe tobacco, like there is on cigarette packages? I mean, in Canada and the EU we get warnings on all tobacco products, but according to this report the dangers of pipes and cigars are grossly exaggerated!
Also, I could not find a lot of information on “side-stream” smoke from pipes or cigars. This is generally the smoke that we refer to as “secondhand smoke”, and with cigarettes the Advisory Committee’s Report advises that side-stream smoke from cigarettes it is highly dangerous, but makes no mention of pipes or cigars.
As far as mainstream smoke goes, the worst mortality rates for heavy pipe and cigar smokers, doesn’t even compare to the best studies on light cigarette smokers. In fact, a couple of studies even show a decreased mortality rate for pipe smokers, and while this in no way is conclusive of anything, it does make one raise an eyebrow.
So, we get to the concept of harm reduction.
Since prohibition has never worked; I mean, look of the twenties, the war on drugs, and the prohibitive regulations they place on smoking, you’re never going to get people to stop smoking by making it illegal.
So, the best approach one can take is how to make smoking less harmful.
And by that, I truly recommend that you do whatever you can to drop cigarettes in favor of a pipe or a cigar.
Check out my article on My Journey From Cigarettes, and it may give you some pointers on how to get rid of them.
So, for your own sake, if you’re going to smoke, smoke a pipe, or cigars, it’s the only responsible thing you can do!
Smoke ‘em (pipes and cigars) if you got ‘em!