Yosi Kadiri

Last week I was passively watching Pinoy Big Brother on television and was absolutely floored down by the antics of a person suffering from a major case of withdrawal symptoms! To induce some excitement into the generally boring dynamics in Big Brother’s house, cigarettes were banned for a day and Uma (the guy whose gender has been speculated about like it was a major factor in the determination of the national GDP), the chain-smoking guy consequently (not naturally) went berserk.

Interesting aside: for some strange reason, the show made a big deal out of justifying the smoking ban. They made such a big thing out of cleaning the environment and yada yada yada. All these eventually fell flat as it became obvious that only one house occupant was emotionally affected. The rest went about their business as if not being allowed to smoke was the most normal thing in the world. Thus, they changed the rules - only this guy was not allowed to smoke which further heightened the withdrawal symptoms because now, the poor guy was not only disallowed from smoking, he was being singled out for persecution as well.

As can be expected, the poor guy ranted, vented, shouted, almost made lupasay… and just when you thought it would finally get interesting, he....hold your breath... went to sleep. The expected fireworks fizzled out.

Anyway. There’s a mouthful that can be said about that ridiculous show, but let’s reserve that for later. I think it is not going to get any more exciting than when two occupants of the house decided to play spin-a-bottle-strip. The show is desperate for some excitement, they had to do a birthday bash and a 100-second reunion for lovers Say and JB. In short, the excitement will come from outside the house, not inside.

Back to yosi.

If there is one clear poison out there, it is this lethal stuff. In Thailand, cigarettes are packaged in a very unglamorous way – they have pictures of badly stained teeth, TB-ravaged lungs, etc., etc. The message is clear: this stuff can kill you. You think that would turn people off into not buying the stuff? My friends say they have gotten used to the pictures – it has not made a difference in their smoking habits. They tell me they know about the harm cigarettes can do to one’s body and the pictures merely serve to validate them. In other words, dancing with death is cool.

I guess we really need to use more science in what we do. Studies conducted in the late eighties have already shown that fear and scary tactics do not work in prevention efforts – they merely increase the tolerance level to the negative images. Worse, they create denial through justification.

I smoked a lot when I was in College and until about five years ago. Today, I smoke occasionally – when am drinking alcohol, which is rare anyway. What got me to stop was a simpler reason: I calculated the cost and figured out what I would have been able to buy with all that money spent on cigarettes had I saved them: a house and lot.


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