So, what’s your poison?

Posted: December 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.” — Carl Gustav Jung

Addiction. That excruciating, gut-wrenching proclivity for anything narcotic to that perverted yen for self-praise to even under-the-covers Barbie-Doll sex. It does not discriminate between peasant or CEO, black or yellow, the great unwashed or one who sports pedigreed shoes.

Some are unpretentious in their choice of poison: Tobacco, alcohol, the scent and scintillating feel of a skimpily-clad GRO or stripper. Others are more, say, sophisticated to the point of being socially acceptable (since most everyone’s into it): A 24/7 loading of fat or sugary treats, an illicit affair with someone else’s wife or husband (taking to a ridiculous extreme the biblical “love thy neighbour), self-praise and that of others, or that numbing high of dying to listen to one’s self or that almighty craving for cash, and needless to say, one’s need for speed.

Let’s not even go to Japanese schoolgirl alien tentacles porn or little Bangkok lady-boys, mall elevator voyeurism, past-the-sane appetite for liposuction, annual breast implants and rumor-mongering. These go under the category of crap. Lump into this leathers and S&M and government instigated violence against journalists.

Believe it or not, the feel of being in love can be as addicting as Starbuck’s frapuccino.

Too, power can be just as precarious and narcotic as, say, wife-swapping or several shots of morphine or shabu after work. Indeed one’s sense of life and being matters little if the daily dose of telenovelas provides that much needed escape from the hopelessly monotonous and mundane.

Perhaps it’s just me, being a smoker. Been one for 30 years. My daughter, a writer and journalist, also smokes. My youngest son said he will NEVER step within smelling distance of a burning cigarette–despite seeing me do it for decades–on account that it might set his hair on fire. This is his take on smoking: “I would rather die of lung cancer than stress.”

It’s disconcerting that people are making such a huge fuzz about Noynoy Aquino’s smoking. I guess political grandstanding has found a new baby to bottle-feed. Or perhaps, perhaps… people have become quick with the forefinger draw they totally missed their reflection in the mirror: We all have our poison of choice. Take your pick from pride to a side order of cookies and cream or deep-fried mojos. And three fingers, save the one directed at Noynoy Aquino, are pointing at our direction.

Statistics show that 18 million Filipinos smoke as per National Statistics Office last count. A senator was in an uproar, advising the incoming Aquino administration to do something about the alarming number of smokers in the country. “Stringent measures” is said to be the answer.

Heart disease tops the list of top ten causes of death in the Philippines in 2009. Studies vary greatly. Major works in health say rheumatic heart disease, ischemic and hypertensive heart are the main factors contributing to mortality. Heredity and stress underscore much of these diseases.

Others blame the intake of fats (that leads to high levels of cholesterol in the body) and smoking, which can also lead to various cancers. Yet we don’t hear anyone suggesting a ban on sisig or a Surgeon General’s warning on Mila’s Lechon. Or photos of foot amputations on Dunkin’ Donuts packages or Coca-Cola bottles since diabetes mellitus also top the list of killer diseases in the country.

After having been a writer for over 20 years, it shames me to find out (only last night) that the hepatitis B virus is contracted mainly through sex and forms of bodily fluids exchange of infected individuals, resembling HIV. So sorry to burst your social-life bubble, but 450 million carriers of the hepatitis b virus worldwide is no joke, according to the Children’s Health Encyclopedia, a huge chunk of which in Southeast Asia and Africa.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t recommend starting. I am not in any way belittling the dangerous effects of smoking tobacco. As a smoker I should know. The shortness of breath, the sudden palpitations, chest pains are all real and annoying. I laud every sincere effort by government and private citizens to make society a healthier place. Will I stop? No. All because I value my choice than effort at quitting as forced by legislative action.

It’s one thing to care for the lives of people; it’s another to politically grandstand. There is much of the latter going on these days. Smoking has nothing at all to do with performance, and I don’t have to mention the many who have contributed immensely to society’s betterment—writers, artists, government servants, even doctors!—who are avid fans of the tobacco up to their emphysemic end. So, let’s not get caught up with Hollywood’s typecasting of the smoking kontrabida.

There is more to the smoke in Aquino’s camp than a backroom puff on a cig.

Let’s not use our time, effort and government coffers to rid of one health problem while nine other killer diseases are readying themselves for the pounce.

Oh, and the Department of Health includes car accidents in the list.

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