By now, you've no doubt heard of Canada's Dumbest Family. I don't hand out that title lightly and quite honestly, I'm only a teensy bit tongue in cheek about this. Because if they were handing out medals for this, in my humble opinion, they'd win the gold.
Last week, the McNeil family from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, boarded a plane bound for Punta Cana. Somewhere along the way, it is alleged that they decided to openly defy a 20-year-old non-smoking law on planes and sparked them up. Unlike most people, desperate for a nicotine fix who sneak into a bathroom and hope for the best, the McNeil family decided that it was their right to smoke in their seats. See what I'm saying—DUMB. They decided that their pathetic need for a fix was worth being belligerent to staff and passengers on the plane, putting others safety at risk, being fined $500 each, arrested and finally sued for $50,000 in damages. Wow. Cigarettes were expensive enough already. This family may not be able to afford another pack.
If there is anything to be gleaned from this story though, aside from the blazing idiocy of these people, is that cigarette addiction is a very powerful thing. (No, I don't think this is a viable defense for this family by the way, as there are smokers who fly everyday and somehow make it to their destination without being pompous jerks.)
How can I sit here and be so harsh? Easy. I was a smoker. For a very long time. I ignored all the evidence of its nasty health effects, I spent scads of money, I smelled like an ashtray, and I even avoided social settings that wouldn't allow me to smoke.
My husband smoked too. Right up until November 23, 2012. That was the day he had a heart attack.
How's that for a price to pay?
I've seen people in my family stop talking to each other over smoking. I've seen family members I love dying and smoking to the bitter end. The ultimate irony being that the smoking caused the bitter end.
So, I get it. I really do understand the hold cigarettes can have on a person.
I tried everything to quit. Nicotine gum, cold turkey, patches, hypnotism, pills and needles. But my addiction was in my head and I couldn't get past that hurdle. Then, in a last ditch attempt, frustrated and disgusted with myself, I attended a seminar by Allen Carr.
A couple of days later, I drew the proverbial line in the sand and stepped over it as a non-smoker. I didn't gain weight, I didn't crave it, I didn't miss it. I was finally free. Even my husband picking up the habit again a few years later didn't draw me back in.
I see smokers everyday and it kills me not to go up and be that pain-in-the-ass ex-smoker and say "Damnit, get thee to an Allen Carr session." I see them shivering in sub-zero temperatures. I see them dousing themselves in perfume or cologne to try and mask the smell. I see them — feeling the guilt every time they light up.
So if this post helps one person today, then I've done my job. If one person goes out tomorrow and signs up for an Allen Carr session than I'll feel great. And take heart smokers, there is new evidence to suggest that if you quit before 40 you can gain back all the lost years.
I do not, however, have a solution for the dumb. That one is a little trickier.