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C A T C H - 2 2

".....reveals a pattern of behaviour so deceitful that the gut reaction is to want to light a cigarette just to get some relief from the intense almost painful feelings of utter disgust, impotence and futility it engenders - in spite of the fact that one has forsworn smoking and been abstinent for many a year."

From the book of Self-Censored Thoughts by the author...2001

The Survey

  One of the most important things to do as part of any attempt to get rid of cigarettes is to get a handle on what makes us smoke. One way to do this is to conduct a survey of personal cigarette use.
  Every time a cigarette is lit make notation of: time, location, what prompted it, a percentage of satisfaction and any comments.
  As an example:-
11.00am... H.Q. Parking Lot... Craving/Habit...20%-30% Satisfaction...Addiction Maintenance Need.
2.30pm...H.Q. Rest Rooms...Psychological Stress Relief...45% Satisfaction...That idiot of a SO & SO!

 Each day the data can be tabulated and over time will provide unique insight into what promotes lighting up and the many different reasons for smoking cigarettes. This page highlights one particular promoter of smoking.

Intense Psychological Stress

It happens suddenly, a gut response, the need for immediate relief. RELIEF from the pain of the way things are. This is most often the trigger for lighting-up a cigarette or sometimes marks the return to smoking after a long period of abstinence.
  This stress is the mental and emotional stress caused by inescapable and often bizzare contradictions met with every day in living. These contradictions conspire to trigger the mechanism for flight, and since most of the time we are not in a position to respond since it would mean going AWOL, smoking cigarettes is often the only viable alternative.
  These psychological stresses and strains caused by the insanity and irrationality of living need to be managed and cigarettes seem to be an absolutely brilliant solution. From the trenches of World War One to the Freezing Doorways of the Corporate Now, cigarettes have long been upheld as a popular self-medication for calming the instinct. Especially during our youth when the psychological means to handle life had not yet been developed. As the "Now No Longer Young" we have all too late discovered that cigarette smoking is itself just another instance of the Catch-22 syndrome - something apparently inescapable that has got you coming and has got you going - in the case of cigarettes they promise relief (freedom) and a better life at the cost of one's life and freedom.

The tobacco companies have long since known of the uses and failings of their product and not wishing to abuse their fiscal bottom line have resorted to sophistry, hoping to fool a not so gullible public and their Government by fabricating their own Catch-22 pseudo-logic concerning smoking.

It goes a little like this...

  1. Any smoker can chose to quit smoking, at any time.
  2. Thus anyone smoking choses to smoke.
  3. Therefore any smoker who is apparently sick from smoking and keeps on smoking does so because they chose to.
  4. Anyone who is made ill by something would chose to stop using it.
  5. Cigarettes therefore are not responsible for making these people ill...
  6. So! Keep on smoking those cigarettes, since (go to item 1).
And so on, round and round the tobacco companies send you, the smoker, whirling to the the tune of a Texas Two-Step, played by the Marlboro Man and his Outlaw Band singing "Smoke,Smoke,Smoke (That Cigarette)" (Listen to it on the C.D. of "Too Much Fun" by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen ) meanwhile disclaiming all and any responsibility for their lethal product...
Tobacco Execs Lying to Congress
Tobacco Executives Testifying before Congress in 1994

And here is a re-butt-al of the tobacco companies' Catch-22...

  1. The tobacco companies declare that: The smoker choses, can say a simple 'yes' or 'no', whether or not to smoke, this is debateable since...
  2. The smoker somehow takes up cigarette smoking without first throroughly evaluating the product. Usually it is a combination of environment, weakness, peer pressure, the history of all smokers gone before, tobacco company advertising, boredom etc...
  3. If the person then becomes a smoker by repeated smoking, he or she is now stuck with the compound problems of being a smoker. These include illness, addiction, habituation, etc...
  4. To repeat item (1): The tobacco companies state, in denial of the fact that cigarettes are disease causing, addictive, habituating, etc: The smoker can chose to stop at any time.
  5. The only way to resolve this is to better define 'Chose' against the nature of an actual compound of problems.
  6. For example: A prisoner may chose to leave a prison, but there are many obstacles put in his path that will prevent him. Guards, locks, fences, barbed wire, surveillance cameras, iron bars, alarms, guns, searchlights, electronic sensors, spies, etc ..Getting out means not only scoring 100% on a complex multiple choice scenario, but also by having nerves of steel, excellent timing, brilliant strategy etc... Refuge
  7. The problem with the tobacco companies point of view (simple choice) is that it can only be a simple choice if the prison has nothing to prevent the prisoner from leaving or in this case that tobacco is non-addictive, non-disease causing, non-habit forming, etc... and the smoker not ill, not addicted, not habituated etc...
  8. To repeat item (1) again: The tobacco companies are thus engaging in a deliberate deception when they categorically state that ill, addicted, habituated etc.. smokers chose to not 'not smoke'.
  9. Cigarette addiction, habituation, etc... is a compulsive matter far stronger and more complex than one that simple choice can handle. The tobacco companies are trying to tell us that cigarette smoking is equivalent to buying and eating a piece of cake, when their own reasearch tells them a very different story.
  10. There is plenty of evidence to show that the smoker cannot simply 'chose not to smoke' and on one morning stub out a last cigarette and walk away clean from years of tobacco use.
  11. To repeat item (3): The very real problem is that anyone who smokes cigarettes rapidly becomes seriously ill, addicted, habituated etc... And very soon, inspite of the illness, can no longer simply chose not to smoke.
  12. The only real way out from smoking cigarettes is to develop the knowledge, the will and the stamina to break a very powerful addiction/compound state of affairs. And fashion radical ways and means to outplay the addiction, habituation, illness etc...
  13. Or die during the attempt...

To further compound matters, there are many other instances of this Catch-22 phenomena that turn up in connection with smoking and getting rid of cigarettes. Here is an obvious example:

How can an ex-smoker be rewarded for getting rid of cigarettes if the only meaningful reward is a cigarette? Smoking a cigarette can be the equivalent of receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor.

And another...

Cigarettes are of vital use in escaping the nightmare of twenty first century living.
Cigarettes are the very living emblem of the nightmare of twenty first century living... How will the ex-smoker survive life in the twenty first century without cigarettes?
How will the smoker survive if he or she continues to smoke cigarettes?

And yet another..

There is this serious worry, only half faced, that all this smoking will result in a fatal disease, if it has not done so already...
The only way of coping with such a serious worry is to smoke cigarettes and hope the worry will go away or simply vanish...

These and other Catch-22 scenarios appear everywhere, literally dogging the steps of any would be ex-smoker. They urgently need to be resolved.

Origins of Catch-22

Fatima Major

What is Catch-22? Catch-22, Joseph Heller wrote the book, Alan Arkin starred as Yossarian in the film. A name and a face were given to a phenomena of life that, dependant upon the level of consciousness and point of view encountered, masquerades under a hundred other names such as Murphy's law, Snookered, Cornered, Tantalus, Sand Bagged, Mexican Stand-Off, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Wanting-to-have-your-cake-and-eat-it, damned if you do and damned if you don't, etc The phenomena of "INESCAPABLE CONTROLLING CONTRADICTIONS", where the only option is to endure whatever is the case or get killed (actually or figuratively) - As in Catch-22 where it proposes that you can disagree and leave the US Army. It offers two ways out, the first is blocked and the second is death, hence Catch-22 (here paraphrased) - "Any insane person can get a discharge from the Army, any sane person would want to get a discharge from the army, thus any sane person would act insane to get a discharge and therefore anyone appearing to be insane is not really insane and will not get discharged" - As a result of this policy the book and film tell a woeful tale of an army commanded by and staffed with legions of psychopaths and the truly insane. The other and only real way out is to go AWOL, however the army will execute anyone who tries for the crime of desertion.

In very small print on the Fatima ad is the following copy:---

"Army training makes the mind quick and alert; and army men - exactly like quick minded civilians - naturally chose a cigarette, not alone for its good tasting qualities, but also for the fact that it does not disturb a man in any way, even if smoked - as so many soldiers do - almost steadily throughout the day."

Liggett & Myers Tobacco Co

In the 1960's there was a television series starring Patrick McGoohan called "the Prisoner". Where in each episode he tries to to escape from a seemingly open prison but somehow is always foiled by some trick of the sinister forces that imprison him. Many episodes of the original Startrek explore the Catch-22 theme, where Captain Kirk or Spock would in the nick-of-time always find a way out of some impossible situation. It crops up in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' where the last thing the psychiatrists want are cured patients...and most importantly for those trying to get rid of cigarettes look in the 'Confessions of Zeno' by Italo Svevo, a curious tale concerning a man, his life and his passion for cigarettes.

This Catch-22 turns up in the contradictions witnessed and can be measured by the degree of frustration experienced as we respond to life in the twenty-first century...

  • In the natural worlds: to the Weather, Insects, Disease, Famine etc..
  • In human life: to Wounded Pride, Adolesence, Acne, Family Arguments, Ignorance, Arrogance, Illness, Work, Government Regulations, Relatives..
  • In the 21st century culture: to the antics of Monopolists, The Stock Market, Federal and Local Government, The Military, The F.B.I., Religions and Cults, Tobacco Companies, H.M.O.'s, Monster Bureaucracies, Giant Corporations, The Supreme Court, Terrorists etc, etc...
  • In other countries: to events in Israel and Palestine, Northern Ireland, Iraq, Macedonia, Sri Lanka etc...
  • In the matter of world concerns: to Global Warming, Genocide, Globalization, Extinction of Species, The Population Explosion, etc...
  • Just a few of the many examples that immediately spring to mind.
To help us all cope with the horror and absurdity of much of it, we have "CIGARETTES". Which is why given all that is known about them they probably never will be banned. And why if anyone wishes to get rid of cigarettes then finding new ways to cope with life and in particular those Catch-22 situations is an absolute priority.
So be a true and quiet revolutionary, create your own Catch-22,
and find a way to

Smoke, by Not Smoking...

Let it Pass.

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