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It took many, many years but finally one pharmacy realized cigarettes are bad for one’s health-this coming from a business whose whole gestalt is supposed to be healing.

Could there have been a method to them realizing this so late? I am just asking because I recall a dentist who always had candy at the check out desk, lots of it. Then there was a diet  center that sold clothes one size too small. I apologize for my attitude. I may have a cavity (Hey, it was a bowlful of free candy!)

Okay, even with my nasty attitude, I truly appreciate CVS’s late action and trust other drugstores will follow immediately. Lots of people will be angry at the loss of another venue as they have a tough time leaving this addictive product. Ads do not help. A suffering man is shown choking and being exploited to inspire others to stop smoking. Nonsmokers turn the channel; smokers will do what they do till they don’t.

Many, many years ago (last century when Sir Walter Raleigh and I dated), I was a smoker. I relinquished my habit reluctantly because of a few rotten kids who lived with me. They said it was wrong for me to yell at them when they ate junk food because they’d only get cavities or lose their teeth, but I would lose my life. How can one argue with such childish logic?

Even though I was never a heavy smoker — heavy came later — quitting was difficult. I adored smoking those long, slim, sexy brown cigarettes. It was all I could think of. I went to bed praying I’d awake to find it was healthier than jogging. (Well, it happened to wine and chocolate!) I purposely burnt the food (okay, so it wasn’t always on purpose) just to smell the smoke.

Then, I ate everything — without pause. This is more than psychological. A cigarette is like the period at the end of a sentence. Without it, the sentence would ramble. Similarly, a meal without a cigarette to punctuate it continued eternally. So I became a researcher, not for me, mind you, but the rest of humanity.

I learned that Baskin-Robbins Ice cream® truly did have 32 flavors in all their branches. The next detective work was never conclusive. I never learned whether M&Ms® melted in my hands, my mouth or my pocket since they were gone quick as a flash. I just knew I loved them. The only foods that I was partial to were those that were sweet, sour, spicy, or bland, though I did learn to enjoy solidly frozen as well.

I started eating tons of mints, chewed gum, and chomped on anything not moving. Eventually though, the craving subsided because it was more of a habit than an addiction for me.

So posting grotesque photos of very ill patients on a cigarette pack or on a TV screen will not deter people, even brilliant ones who certainly know the consequences but are addicted and unable to stop on their own. Not selling the product may help and noting they may need an intervention, therapy, and our compassion.

Take a smoker to lunch; though if they take out a cigarette during the meal, slap them silly. Then give them a hug! I do not want to be judgmental. Because if they put pictures of M&Ms® on a cigarette package, who knows what may ensue.

Jan Marshall

Jan Marshall is an author, humor columnist, certified clinical hypnotherapist and motivational speaker.

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