"Quitters never win and I'm no quitter." "It's my choice and I choose to continue using!" Truth is, we lost "choice" the day nicotine took control.
But that doesn't stop the tobacco industry from spending billions building mighty neighborhood store marketing facades that each scream the message "smoking is an adult free-choice activity."
Think about the message and collective tease of hundreds of colorful and neatly arranged boxes, packs and tins behind the checkout counter. Each time we stepped-up to buy a new supply, our senses were flooded with the subconscious message that using is all about choice, lots and lots of choices.
Apparently, few tobacco executives are buying the "choice" lie. A former Winston Man, David Goerlitz, asked R.J. Reynolds executives, "Don't any of you smoke?" One executive answered, "Are you kidding? We reserve that right for the poor, the young, the black and the stupid."
Once hooked, our only real alternative is the up to 72 hours needed to purge nicotine from our system and move beyond peak withdrawal. Choice? The only choice made while still using is to avoid withdrawal.
It isn't that we like using nicotine but that we don't like what happens when we don't.
Then there are those who claim to smoke knowing full well that it's killing them. They suggest that they don't care what happens, that they don't want to get old, that we have to die of something, so why not smoking?
This self-destruction "choice" rationalization can be used to hide fears born of a history of failed attempts. It's often rooted in a false belief that we are somehow different from those who succeed, that we will never be able to stop.
But try to find any user who isn't shocked upon arrival of lung cancer, emphysema, a heart attack or stroke. As Joel writes, "no one ever called me enthusiastically proclaiming, 'It worked, it's killing me!' On the contrary, they were normally upset, scared and depressed."
Choice? The only way to restore free choice is to come out from under our dependency's control. But even then, just one puff, dip or chew and our freedom and autonomy will again be lost, as our brain is soon wanting and begging for more.