Thursday, June 4, 2009

'Hey Mum, Guess What?'

Photo courtesy of

My children love trivia, especially Mr Almost-16. He greeted me this morning with 'Hey Mum, guess what?'. And of course, before I could even respond the next words fell out of his mouth:

'Did you know that Brad Pitt has been smoking since the age of
16. He's not so pretty on the inside, then is he?'

I laughed. Thinking back, maybe my reaction should have been to reaffirm what Mr Almost-16 already knows, according to the judgement he had just made about Mr Pitt's internal aesthetics. But, I just laughed. No, not a giggle, but a good old belly laugh. If you know anything about Mr Almost-16 he is usually cracking a joke, and always trying to make light of almost any situation he finds himself in. However, this morning his response was to look at me inquiringly, probably wondering what on earth had possessed his mother to respond in this way. He gave me a side-ways smile and got on with his morning preparations. I felt quite embarrassed. Maybe I have such confidence that they will never smoke as I know they are frightened by the potential harm it could do to them? Maybe I genuinly found his comment about Pretty-Mr-Pitt's-not-so-pretty-insides ironic in a humorous way?

I know my children are baffled as to why people smoke when all the warning signs are there (Mr 6 regularly asks me why his grandparents (my parents and mother-in-law) still smoke if smoking 'causes the brain to bleed'). Mr 6's response is the legacy of a rigorous Australian Cancer Institute's anti-smoking campaign in which Leonard Cohen sings 'Everybody Knows'.

In remembering this eerie add (and having just seen it for probably for the 100th time) the smile is wiped off my face completely. Indeed, why won't my parents, and all of those I love and are dear to me, stop smoking? I can only hope and pray that one day they will have the strength and courage to stop smoking and that my confidence, in my own children never smoking, holds true.


G. Coppard said...

I hope that your hopes all become truths.

Suko said...

In spite of all the health dangers, smoking for many is an addiction as well as self-medication. Personally, I wish all cigarettes would be banned and prohibited (although a black market would spring up).

Robin said...

"He's not so pretty on the inside.."
I loved that.

Very good post.


G. Coppard said...

Suko -
Making smoking illegal would not only be ineffectual, it'd be immoral. You might as well make it illegal to drink alcohol or overeat, the other two major health problems these days. Imagine how many tragic highway accidents we could avoid if vehicles couldn't drive faster than twenty-five miles per hour. The list of ways to mandate longer, healthier lives is absolutely endless.

You cannot force someone to be healthy and in most cases you cannot force someone to be safe. Life without risk is not life at all. The degree and type of risk is up to the individual, not society. Often our level and method of risk and recklessness are at least part of what defines who we are.

And even though right now smoking in developed countries has become socially unacceptable and does do all the horrible things to individuals and families that doctors and scientists say it does, it doesn't mean that it should be taken from those who choose to smoke.

The intolerance I've witnessed laid across a smoker when a person looking down their nose has caught just a single and absolutely harmless whiff of cigarette smoke as they walked by on the sidewalk or in a public park is degradation enough, I think.

Sorry. As much as I support Mervat and her hopes for her parents and children, as I would anyone's similar wishes, taking away personal freedom is probably my biggest public pet peeve.


Natalie said...

Deary me. Here's hoping that your parents have many happy years ahead. In their defence, things were certainly different in their day re:smoking.
I am a non smoker, but did smoke for three years one time. I gave up cold turkey, which was SO hard. Nowadays, there are plenty of medications to help those that want to kick the habit. Let's hope they

La Belette Rouge said...

I had a friend who was a production assistant who claimed the Mr. Pitt was stinky. Now I know why. I didn't know he was a smoker. Like your kids, I just don't get it. Yuck! SMoking is nasty.

lakeviewer said...

That's the problem with addiction. Your kids are smart like their mother.

G. Coppard said...

He also never showers apparently. P-U!

Suko said...

G.C.: I know. I am against taking away freedoms as well, even if they are harmful.

Warren Baldwin said...

Uggggh, what an object lesson!

septembermom said...

Not a great role model here! I wonder if he'll change as his kids get older and ask him about it.

Mervat said...

Suko & G Coppard: Thank you both for your well thought out comments. I love that we can discuss this issue objectively.

The issue of whether to ban smoking or not is beside the point. Smoking tobacco or anything else will always be there. This has been the case for thousands of years. It is up to people to exercise their will and to decide for themselves.

I always cringe at the idea of higher government impinging on peoples choice and for people to be ostracised for their choices especially in the privacy of their own home or car. That being said, I also think that people who make the choice smoke should also consider others in public. Noone can ignore the facts and evidence we have of the dangers on smoking on health and those around us. In the end though, I think tobacco companies still have so much to answer for and so too do our governments who are still making billions out of taxing cigarettes.

Robin: He is quite insightful. Thank you for your comment.

Natalie: Thank you so much my dear. I don't say anything to my parents anymore as I know what a difficult addiction smoking is; they both started at the height of the popularity of the 'Marlboro Man' like many in their generation.

La Belette Rouge: Thank you so much. Mr Pitt, stinky...nasty indeed!

lakeviewer: Thank you.

G. Coppard: We can't smell him in the pics...thankfully!

Warren Baldwin: Yes, a lesson indeed.

septembermom: I was wondering that as well, re B Pitt's kids. I guess the worst thing in the world is having to own up to certain actions to our children. Do as I say not as I do can only hold up for so long.

G. Coppard said...

Yes, sorry Suko for my excessively verbose post. That was a bit over the top. Sometimes my fingers work faster than my brain I think.

Anyway, we're all pretty much in agreement, looks like.

Mervat said...

G Coppard: Again it is great that we can have such a forum to air this topic. And, yes, as in all healthy discussions in the end we realise that we are essentially arguing the same point.

Printemps said...

A Healthy forum....They don't give up smoking because they don't want to ...let's stop talking about it , then perhaps they will...

♥ Braja said...

I've seen a lot of kids go thru this and if the values they're fed are strong and not just like daily 'feed' from the parents, then they'll stick.

Terry said...

What a wonderful post.
I like Mr.16 not pretty on the inside ! Ha he nailed it .
Thank you for sharing .
I too wish those that I loved and cared for did not smoke ,It is beyond me,but each person must live their own life.
Today was my first visit to your blog .
I shall make a point to visit again .
Have a delightful weekend.
Happy Trails

lunarossa said...

I didn't know that Brad Pitt was a smoker either. I guess he hides it pretty well! I thought the Brangelina couple would being so keen on human rights and the environment would also be aware of the dangers of smoking! Great of your son to note that! I really hope that my kids will never take on smoking. As parents we have never smoked, so I hope that our example will be stronger than their friends' in the future. All the best. Ciao. A.

Mervat said...

Printemps: I think you are right in many ways.

♥ Braja: Let us hope so.

Terry: Thank you for your visit and comment.

lunarossa: I believe that parents are vital role models when it comes to not only smoking but also living a healthy lifestyle.

GutsyWriter said...

I found your blog through Braja and enjoyed the way you had those black lungs underneath Brad's photo. Maybe you should send him a copy. I have 3 boys, older than yours, and none of them smoke, thankfully.

Imogen Lamport said...

My in-laws have been heavy smokers and I'm glad they live in the UK, a long way from us so my kids don't see them and their nasty habits too often. Fortunately in the last year my MIL has given up (and due to pressure by my Brother in law not started again).

I really hope my kids never start as it's such a hard habit to quit.

When I saw that ad it was the mouth cancer woman that really got me. I'm so glad i've never smoked so I've never had to give up.

Have you seen recent pics of Mr Pitt? His skin is looking very old - proably from he smokes.

Mervat said...

GutsyWriter: Welcome to you! I wonder if Mr Pitt did see that piture of the tarred lungs whether he would quit.

Imogen Lamport: If it was up to children exerting pressure alone against smoking, my parents would have stopped ages ago. Our relationship started to be affected and I could not let smoking to get between us.

I too hope your kids never start.

For me the worst part of the add is the father expecting his daughter to visit him and he really thinks he will be alive for her, but unfortunatley he wasn't.

As for Mr Pitt he does look like he has aged alot recently; either its the smoking or fathering six kids!

Anonymous said...

I hate cigarettes, too, but Brad Pitt actually said in an interview with Oprah that he quit smoking when he had kids. :) Now, if only all parents did that, in recognition of the harm of 2nd hand smoke AND setting a bad example!

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