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personal responsibility

I've recieved a lot of email about quitting smoking. Most of it has been great and supportive and I thank all of you (and will eventually return the emails).

A few people wrote to say how evil the tobacco industry is (in response to my distaste of the truth.com commercials, I suppose) and that I should read that book or see this movie or read some website to find out how I've been lied to, taken advantage of and poisoned by big tobacco, the government and some clandestine cabal of fringe groups and covert operatives.

Listen carefully: I have no one to blame but myself. I knew when I was 13 and took my first drag off of a cigarette (my cousin's Winston) that what I was doing was bad for me. I knew when I bought my first pack of Parliaments (55 cents) that smoking was terrible for my health. I knew when I smoked a pack of Marlboros a day at 19 that I was destroying my lungs. I knew this when I quit smoking in 1983 and I knew it when I started up again in 1996 and went straight back to a pack a day and then onto stress-related chain smoking almost two packs a day. I knew this when I watched my aunt attach herself to an oxygen machine 24 hours a day. I knew this when I had bronchitis and held my inhaler in one hand a cigarette in the other.

I don't blame big tobacco or the government or Joe Camel for my addiction. The blame rests solely with me. I willingly picked up a habit I knew was destructive, costly and disgusting. And not just once. I quit and went back a few times, knowing full well what I was doing.

I don't blame McDonald's for my weight gain. I don't blame the makers of M&M's for my cavities. I don't blame my parents for my shortcomings. I don't blame Judas Priest for my crappy hearing. And I don't blame RJ Reynolds for my expensive, lung destroying habit.

So I won't read the book or check out the website or watch the movie or give another chance to truth.com because I am the only one responsible for my actions. And I'm not a big Russell Crowe fan, anyhow.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference personal responsibility:

» Overcoming Addiction from The Indepundit
"The blame rests solely with me." MICHELE CATALANO takes personal responsibility for her shortcomings. I don't blame McDonald's for my weight gain. I don't blame the makers of M&M's for my cavities. I don't blame my parents for my shortcomings.... [Read More]

» This could be a great movement from Maladjusted - Fair and Balanced
Michele, of A Small Victory fame, has a great entry today about personal responsibility. I don't blame McDonald's for my weight gain. I don't blame the makers of M&M's for my cavities. I don't blame my parents for my shortcomings. I don't blam... [Read More]

» Refreshing from Physics Geek
Michele always gives us her unvarnished opinion and today is no exception. It turns out that she decided to kick the black lung habit and is keeping a diary of all the mood swings associated with quitting. Excerpt: I don't... [Read More]

» Thanks, doc. from Accidental Verbosity

Some things aren't as simple as some people think they are. I have to say that it's terribly refreshing to hear an actual medical professional say as much. Mostly I've had the brand of doctor who seems to think that I'm fat (and,...

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» Space Pen, Playboy Airbrushing, And What Men Want from The Laughing Wolf
This post by Michele asks a good question, but at the same time makes a statement that tends to get my hackles up about as much as that base canard/urban legend about NASA and the Space Pens. While I canít... [Read More]

» How to avoid catching the stupidity virus from Angry in the Great White North
McDonald's is required to defend itself against a lawsuit by teens who gained weight from burgers. Ever notice that these sorts of suits require the plaintiff to argue that he is as dumb as a post? [Read More]


wow michele. All this talk of physical attributes and here you go painting a wonderful picture of yourself. A McDonald's bloated, black lunged, cavity ridden deaf girl who's suffering from withdrawal. And apparently likes American Idol. That's the gross part.

Ah, truth.com. Hand me that loudspeaker, would you?

"This is my friend, Shelley. A few weeks ago, Shelley's dad received a gift from this tobacco company as thanks for being a loyal customer for the past 40 years.

"There's only one problem: Shelley's dad died four years ago from lung cancer. And now she's got a question for them:

" 'How fucking stupid was my dad to use a product he knew would give him cancer?'"

I had a woman I worked with once tell me that the truth.com commercials were excellent because people don't realize how bad smoking is for you. Which, you know, kind of surprised me because the evils of smoking was about 50% of every health class in junior high and high school if I recall correctly. I knew exactly what I was doing when I started smoking too.

I told her that if people needed a bunch of smart-ass, teenaged, street-theater-loving, faux-revolutionaries to tell them smoking is bad, they have much bigger things to worry about.

It's good I don't see those things too much anymore. Those commercials almost make me want to smoke in protest.

"Listen carefully: I have no one to blame but myself." What? It's not big business, the government, little green men or those morons of the opposite sexes fault? ---->I applaud you for saying that. It takes a guts to take responsibility for ones own actions.

That being said - you will succeed. Sounds like you are not doing this because you run out of breath during simple walks or because its damn cold smoking outside or some moron tells you you shouldn't or because the neat pictures of a blacked lung draws you too it like kids to a train wreck or your significant other has nagged you for years. You are doing it because you decided it was time for you to do it for you.

have fun!

Excellent post Michele. I quit 4 years ago this month after 20+ years. It is a personal choice to start and to quit. Externalizing the blame is pathetic.

Just being able to endure a cold without feeling compelled to smoke during it was enough reward. Don't miss the lung-butter either.

Best of luck!.

Definitely agree on the responsibility issue.

Good luck quitting!

Separate and apart from how you may feel about Big Tabacco, The Insider is just a terrific movie. But it's not like you have to see every terrific movie out there, I suppose.

Actually, I'm not sure the movie affected my opinion of smoking/tabacco manufacturing that much. But it sure was entertaining.

One of my friends said he met and partied with a bunch of the people that were with thetruth.com campaign. He said they all did coke. Awesome.

PREACH ON SISTER! Hell ya! Give'm Hell!

Personal responsibility is lost on some people.

Good for you. I admire that.

Wow that said it all I agree with brother Wayne Preach on Testify sister

congrats on making another day


Very nice. It's a pleasure to hear someone speak well about personal responsibility.
Good luck on quitting.

Never been a smoker (given the addictive tendencies of my personality, thank your non-specific deity of choice). The truth campaign makes me want to start smoking just to spite them. Is that a bad thing?

Thanks for the breath of fresh air (ironic, eh?)...
It's amazing to see exactly how many folks pass off blame of their actions, instead of facing the truth...

My friend who gave up drinking and smoking always said smoking was the harder of the two. Good Luck.

Perhaps "truth.com" should start smashing tobacco-related stuff with hatchets. While shouting "Smash, ladies. Smash!"

At this rate the idiots will start agitating for a Constitutional amendment banning smoking.

Why is it when someone gets killed skydiving or some other extreme sport folks always say, "Well, at least he died doing what he loved," but if you smoke and enjoy it for 40 years, then die of lung cancer, it's the tobacco companies' fault and you're an innocent victim?
Very silly reasoning.
I am a reasoning adult; I am responsible for my actions.
As for the evil greed of Big Tobacco...guess who has made far more money off smokers than any tobacco company? The government--by the time you buy it, 85%+ of the cost of a pack of cigs is taxes. Tobacco companies are just manufacturers for the State (and by the terms of the MSA, they cannot quit the business!). If the government was really getting involved to save smokers from themselves, wouldn't they just ban it...? Unfortunately, they're more addicted to the tax revenues than any smoker is to nicotine.
Read Jacob Sullum's "For Your Own Good" for the raw facts on smoking--everyone takes their lumps, for a change.

I suppose if you'd rather be pissed at yourself than someone else...me, I was better off contemplating homocide than suicide...at least until the first month was over anyway.


To each their own.

One day at a time Michelle.

1. We admitted we were powerless over "substances" and that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity......

I mostly appreciate the freedom since I quit smoking several years ago. The freedom from convenience stores. I actually go for weeks at a time with seeing the inside of a convenience store.

My dad is an ex-smoker who is fully in favor of smoking bans. If we ever get into the discussion about smoking bans while I visit him in Cali 2nd 1/2 of Feb, he will get an earful from me.

Personally, I think smoking is a disgusting, stupid habit that makes people look ridiculous in their attempts to get their nic hits. But I am rabidly in favor of allowing people to do as they please regarding smoking, and ESPECIALLY of allowing bar and restaurant owners to cater to the clientele they choose. You don't have a right to not be offended by cigarette smoke. The property owner of said establishment's right to allow smoking on his premises trumps your right to not be annoyed (at least, it SHOULD trump your right to not be annoyed). You DO have a right to not patronize an establishment that allows smoking. No one's forcing you to endure the smoke. Don't go there.

And after all that, God speed (yeah I know you're an atheist, gimme a break, I ain't PC) in quitting for good, Michele.

Bravo! A grown-up American. An adult, not pointing fingers. Speaking of attractive.....

I too, started smoking at a tender age and smoked until I was about 25 years old. I quit for two years and started back up at a "stressful" job. "Yeah, lemme bum one of those, can't hurt to puff once in a while." Once a smoker, always a smoker.

I was two-packs-a-day for the next 20 years until I had to go pick my son up. He had been suspended from school in seventh grade for having a cigarette lighter.

"What you need that for at school?" I asked.

"Can't go all day without smoking, dad." He replied.

That's when I quit smoking. It's been nearly 21/2 years now and I'm still doing okay. Best part, I did it with half an open pack on the dresser and half a carton on the fridge.

I'm certain I couldn't do it again today if I had to, but the motivation was strong that day.

Hang in there. I quit 24 years ago, when my daughter was two. My husband and I both smoked when we married. I promised him that if he ever quit, I would but that he'd better mean it because I was only going to quit once. I watched my father quit a half dozen times and didn't want to do that to myself. He decided to quit on my daughter's second birthday. I waited two months until he had done all the stressful things. I then quit and told him that if he started again I would start lopping off portruding parts of his anatomy. For some inexplicable reason, even though I smoked two packs a day, it was relatively easy for me to quit. In 72 hours, the physical issue was gone and the next was breaking habit patterns. My husband took nine long months before the cravings went away. He held on, though. I'm proud of him. For nine months he carried a pack of cigarettes and held on. Keep it up, Michelle.

I'm on DAY 13.

It doesn't help to think about the good I'm doing for my health.

Patches help... Tootsie Pops help.. switching from coffee to tea helps...

But the thing that helps most is breaking it down in terms of cold hard cash. My life insurance premium is going to drop about 30% when I've been tobacco free for a year... And during that year I'll save $1500 on smokes alone.

Michele, that is SO sexy!


Good luck, I know how hard it can be. I quit in '99 and started back in '02. Boredom is the thing that keeps driving me back. Sitting out in the field waiting for the green machine to make up its mind on what we are going to do. Long boring cross country drives, that kind of stuff. Smoking helps pass the time. It was something to do. I don't blame anyone else either. I know what it does. I too made it my choice. Well, good on ya and I hope it sticks this time.

Oh yeah, I still listen to Judas Priest. Cranked up 'Breaking the Law' yesterday while taking my 11 year old to the computer store. He asked me to turn it down.

I love you.

58 yr old male here and I started smoking at age 14. I just quit last June and have to credit the Commit lozenges for getting me through the rough times. I still want a nice Marlboro red every once in awhile, but so far have been able to resist it.

Anyway, best of luck to you and do check out the Commit product, it worked for me.

I stopped smoking on Sunday night a little after midnight. The Hot Wife and I had actually been discussing it for the last couple of weeks, and then it became a heavy topic on ASV when you quit, so you're an inspiration to me! (It's weirdly coincidental, but it's happened a zillion times - the wife and I would be talking about something and then you'd post about it the very next day - which is why she reads ASV regularly now!)
Anyway, tonight midnight is my 48hr mark, tomorrow midnight makes my 72. I feel like my skeleton is going to rip out of my skin and do laps around the house. It's a bitch concentrating on anything at work, and yesterday I actually hallucinated a little (think it was my blood sugar goin' all wacky). I only started smoking in 1989 - about 15 years ago (it's a long story - my buddies and I were in a bar in Juarez; quarter cervezas; you fill in the rest) I've never actually given it an honest-to-goodness 100% try, but I think I can do it! If I can make it over the 72 hr withdrawal hump I think I can hold on (The Hot Wife has been a tremendous help & support) Keep it up - hope you get through this intact!
Flamen Dialis


Hope the quitting thing works for you. Just means more cigarettes for me, I guess. Oh, and personal responsibility is always sexy.

Good luck with your effort to quit smoking. It can be tough, but then so can you. It'll be worth it in the end.

The only time I smoked was when I was 13 and stole a pack from my father from time to time. Fortunately, I never got hooked. My father was a heavy smoker who had his first heart attack by his 40th birthday. He tried to quit but went back to it, dying when he was 46.

I know 3 men locally who smoked for a combined total of 100 years (two went for 40 years each and the other for 20 years) and who quit cold turkey without a problem. That suggests to me that they were never addicted to tobacco. Others have a much harder time of it. I hope you aren't one of them.

As for the truth.com ads, they come across to me as a bunch of assholes.


Michele, more power to you. My wife and I are in the process of quitting together. We've been "smoke-free" since January 7th. So far we haven't killed anyone, though the urge to light up is so strong, I could roll up dust bunnies and smoke 'em. The 21 mg nicotine patch is helping.

It seems every day is a little different from the last. Not easier, necessarily, but different. Last night, for instance, I woke up 3 times feeling pangs of hunger. I attacked the Peter Pan Honey Roast Peanut Butter with great relish. The jar didn't have a chance. God knows what's going to happen tonight.
Just remember, you're not alone in this. We fellow (ex) tobacco junkies are right there with you. Good luck.

I've quit smoking about a half-dozen times, and it's the best thing I've ever done, every time.

But seriously: keep with it, it's worth it. I haven't been a regular smoker in about 8 years.

As for those idiotic commercials -- yes, thank you, they drive me up a wall. And I just know that somehow my tax money is paying for them, because they're a "public service". (My ass.)

Congratulations, Michele, keep up the good work.

When I was a kid (and yes, that was in the dark ages when dinosaurs roamed the earth), the magazines and TV commercials were chock full of cigarette ads touting doctors' recommendations about which cigarette to smoke. But that was a long time ago, and these truth.com commercials are a joke because now everyone knows the dangers.

I never smoked because I got a heavy dose of reality watching my maternal grandfather die from lung cancer when I was 15. It was horrible for a young girl to see, and I made a decision then never to smoke. Then I watched my first stepmother die of the same thing (she was a 4-pack a day smoker, yes, I said 4) at the relatively young age of 59.

But now my youngest daughter smokes, and I know that nothing I can say or do will get her to quit. She has to make it on her own. I really hope she does. I don't think I could stand to watch that happen again, especially to her.

Imperial Keeper

I believe the truth.com ads are funded by tobacco money. I often wonder if there isn't a little puppethand controlling the production, making them purposefully annoying. I know more than a few people that grab for a smoke most everytime one comes on.

I believe they're funded by money from the tobacco settlements with the states. The money from those settlements was supposed to go to pay for health care costs related to smokers -- this was the entire basis of the lawsuits, that smoking was causing the states to absorb an unreasonable financial burden because of uninsured smokers.

Instead, we get commercials, and keep paying for smoker-related health costs out of our pockets. Everybody loses except the people who make the commercials and the idiots patting themselves on the back for providing us with such helpful information.

I hear they are currently working on a commercial explaining why you shouldn't bathe with your toaster.

Way to go!
I have the same problem, I lost about 70 lbs two years ago, and have subsequently gained it back. Why? Well various reasons, but they all boil down to this: it's my own damn fault.

Women don't check me out as much anymore. Is it because they're shallow, or is it society's fault? No, it's my fault for not respecting my body enough. I am so sick of all these "acceptance" people that want to feel better. I mean, sure I feel sorry for kids who get teased, but adults? Take some responsiblity. Losing weight is hard, I know, but that doesn't mean you give up.

I went out with this girl who would rant on and on about how fat people get treated, but she herself absolutely hated skinny people, and was more hateful and prejudiced than any skinny people I ever knew. In fact I wrote this article inspired by her:

Skinny People Ruining Society

I'm glad to see you reassert your usual good sense.

The great thing about the truth.com spots is that they use money they got from suing tobacco companies, which they're supposed to spend informing people of how bad cigarettes are for you, but instead they're all really about how CULPABLE the companies are, ie, how much they should get sued some more.