Cigarettes

18 December 2007 — 6 Comments

Cigarettes
Last night I bought some cigarettes for the very first time. It’s not the first time I’ve smoked them (that was when I was 16 and wanted to fit in with some friends), but it was the first time I had walked into a shop and asked for them over the counter. I used to work in a newsagents and would sell them all the time but never actually bought any.

I ended up in the local off-licence at 7pm because a friend and I were plastering my kitchen wall and I went to pick up a pizza for dinner. My friend, a regular smoker, asked me to get him some more fags (that’s cigarettes to you Americans) as he’d run out. Seeing as how he’s done a LOT of work at my house recently, it was the least I could do.

The reason i even mention it here is because I actually felt very uncomfortable doing it. Walking into the shop and up to the counter, I kept thinking “What will I say if someone I know sees me?”, “What message does this send the children and young people that I work with?”.
I found myself getting quite paranoid about this simple act and I’m sure the shop keeper looked at me strangely as I grabbed the gold packet and shoved it into my pocket quickly.

The scenario may seem quite trivial, but it got me thinking about my values and what I stand for. I have never encouraged anyone to smoke and generally dislike smoking due to the health problems that it causes (although I believe people should make their own choices). But by buying cigarettes for someone else, was I actually endorsing smoking? Is selling them the same thing?

I once went to Racial Awareness Training where I was told that by doing nothing when racism happens, I was contributing to that act. Is the same principle true in this situation? I would certainly never buy cigarettes for a young person, so why should I do it for an adult friend?

I love it when something really challenges my thinking and makes me evaluate what I believe. Maybe next time we can discuss it for an hour or so first…

Jon

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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

6 responses to Cigarettes

  1. Looking at this post now, I’m even more frustrated by the Google Ads that appear selling tobacco and cigarettes! Looks like I’m endorsing smoking by simply posting! Agh!

  2. Looking at this post now, I’m even more frustrated by the Google Ads that appear selling tobacco and cigarettes! Looks like I’m endorsing smoking by simply posting! Agh!

  3. Jon, I can totally relate to this story. As you know I used to work as a shopper in Sainsbury’s (online grocery picker for all you Americans 😉 )and always felt very uncomfortable whenever the system told me that I had to goto the Kiosk and get Cigarettes.

    I was always afraid that David & Heather (the Senior Pastor of Arun Community Church and his wife) would walk in at the exact moment I had taken delivery of 200 B&H as it was never small quanities! With the consequence that “How to quit” may be discreetly put in my direction!

  4. Jon, I can totally relate to this story. As you know I used to work as a shopper in Sainsbury’s (online grocery picker for all you Americans 😉 )and always felt very uncomfortable whenever the system told me that I had to goto the Kiosk and get Cigarettes.

    I was always afraid that David & Heather (the Senior Pastor of Arun Community Church and his wife) would walk in at the exact moment I had taken delivery of 200 B&H as it was never small quanities! With the consequence that “How to quit” may be discreetly put in my direction!

  5. Hey man, can also really relate to this! There is just a strange feeling of guilt that seems to come over when put in a situation like that and for all the reasons you listed!

  6. Hey man, can also really relate to this! There is just a strange feeling of guilt that seems to come over when put in a situation like that and for all the reasons you listed!

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