My Cigarette, My Friend
by Joel Spitzer
How do you feel about a friend who has to go everywhere with you? Not only does he tag along all the time, but since he is so offensive and vulgar, you become unwelcome when with him. He has a peculiar odor that sticks to you wherever you go. Others think both of you stink.
He controls you totally. When he says jump, you jump. Sometimes in the middle of a blizzard or storm, he wants you to come to the store and pick him up. You would give your spouse hell if he or she did that to you all the time, but you can’t argue with your friend. Sometimes, when you are out at a movie or play he says he wants you to go stand in the lobby with him and miss important scenes. Since he calls all the shots in your life, you go.
Your friend doesn’t like your choice of clothing either. Instead of politely telling you that you have lousy taste, he burns little holes in these items so you will want to throw them out. Sometimes, he tires of the furniture and gets rid of it too. Occasionally, he gets really nasty and decides the whole house must go.
He gets pretty expensive to support. Not only is his knack of property destruction costly, but you must pay to keep him with you. In fact, he will cost you thousands of dollars over your lifetime. And you can count on one thing, he will never pay you a penny in return.
Often at picnics you watch others playing vigorous activities and having lots of fun doing them. But your friend won’t let you. He doesn’t believe in physical activity. In his opinion, you are too old to have that kind of fun. So he kind of sits on your chest and makes it difficult for you to breathe. Now you don’t want to go off and play with other people when you can’t breathe, do you?
Your friend does not believe in being healthy. He is really repulsed by the thought of you living a long and productive life. So, every chance he gets he makes you sick. He helps you catch colds and flu. Not just by running out in the middle of the lousy weather to pick him up at the store. He is more creative than that. He carries thousands of poisons with him which he constantly blows in your face. When you inhale some of them, they wipe out cilia in your lungs which would have helped you prevent these diseases.
But colds and flu are just his form of child’s play. He especially likes diseases that slowly cripple you – like emphysema. He considers this disease great. Once he gets you to have this, you will give up all your other friends, family, career goals, activities – everything. You will just sit home and caress him, telling him what a great friend he is while you desperately gasp for air.
But eventually your friend tires of you. He decides he no longer wishes to have your company. Instead of letting you go your separate ways, he decides to kill you. He has a wonderful arsenal of weapons behind him. In fact, he has been plotting your death since the day you met him. He picked all the top killers in society and did everything in his power to ensure you would get one of them. He overworked your heart and lungs. He clogged up the arteries to your heart, brain, and every other part of your body. In case you were too strong to succumb to this, he constantly exposed you to cancer causing agents. He knew he would get you sooner or later.
Well, this is the story of your “friend,” your cigarette. No real friend would do all this to you. Cigarettes are the worst possible enemies you ever had. They are expensive, addictive, socially unacceptable, and deadly. Consider all this and – NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!
© Joel Spitzer July 1984
Video produced by Kuch Khaas, a group of young artists in Pakistan
Description of how the video was originally conceived and produced, written by Khurram Hashmi:
CTC-Pak is a coalition of more than 200 civil society organizations from all over Pakistan which bring a range of expertise to the coalition and together present a unified front that is dedicated to the control tobacco consumption in Pakistan.
Among these volunteers, is this amazing group of young artists at Kuch Khaas who use their skills to bring social issues such as this one in a lighter manner to aware present and potential smokers. It was them who came to us with a campaign “Smokeout” idea which includes a charity drive (to be donated for local research work) during the month of May, a dialogue with youth with an intention to formulate a “support group” for quitters and of course, to motivate the to-be quitters, a visualization of your letter.
We, at CTC-Pak, were more than happy to represent their fine work in front of the world especially during our annual WNTD campaign where members every year celebrate WNTD in more than 60 cities of Pakistan through 100+ awareness activities under one flag.
As you can see it, they tried their best to bring your passion to life in form of this video. And they did it in a week’s time with an intention to release it just before world no tobacco day.
This is why during the hustle, credit to original author were missed out but it was understood to release a second version post-WNTD to include proper credit which thanks to you now we have in an appropriate form. Once ready, we shall definitely provide you a copy of the video.
We treasure your feedback and make sure the creative team, Kuch Khaas, receive the feedback which is a reward in itself for their efforts to be recognized by none other than THE author himself.
It should be (and it is) us who are thankful to you for your commitment towards this important public health issue which serve as guidelines for us to achieve a better, healthier lifestyle.
National Coordinator, Coalition for Tobacco Control – Pakistan
NCD Alliance – Pakistan
Society for Alternative Media And Research (SAMAR) Islamabad – Pakistan
The video was hosted at the Facebook website of the Kuch Khaas group and in a little over a month now it has 9,657 views.
This is a letter I wrote to Khurram Hashmi who originally let us know about the creation of the video:
I was very surprised and pleased to see the video your group has put together based on my 1984 short article, My cigarette, my friend.
I think the people who produced the video did an excellent job of capturing the essence of the article and has given it a new life to reach a new generation.
Over the past several years I have tried to produce video versions of my numerous articles aimed at helping people who are hooked on cigarettes and other nicotine products to break free from their addiction. My cigarette, my friend, which was always my personal favorite of my articles was one that I just never felt capable of making a video that could capture power of the original written format.
Your group, with its creative use of acting and visualizations did in fact produce a video I always wished I had and I thank you and all involved for that.
You wrote me letting me know that you are going to attach references to the original article into a new version of the video. I am planning on hosting a copy of that video on my website and I will give an honorable mention to your group who put the video together. If you have some description you would like to me use of the people involved in the project let me know.
I hope that people who come across your site and the video take a look at the original article as well as all of the other articles and videos we have made available at WhyQuit.com. All of the materials there are totally free and can help people to quit smoking as well as help young people avoid ever getting trapped into the grip of nicotine addiction.
Once again, thanks to all involved for the great job you all have done.
The video “WhyQuit.com reinforcement materials” discusses how I kind of always wanted to have a video version of “My cigarette my friend?” but never saw it as a feasible option.