Adyar Gopal Parivar
Confessions of a Smoker
By Mohan Shenoy
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I was buying only one or two cigarettes at a time. I almost never bought a whole packet of
cigarettes. Throughout the time I smoked cigarettes, I felt the rejuvenation and relaxation that
followed the smoking.I was told of the bad effects of smoking constantly by everyone who saw
me smoking. I read about the diseases that became worse sooner because the patient smokes
cigarettes. The prognosis of many diseases was worse in a smoker than in a non-smoker. Yet I
continued to smoke about 4-6 cigarettes a day. None of my close friends smoked cigarettes. No
one joined me when I wanted to light a cigarette.
There was one important effect of smoking, which I noticed. This effect was on the intestinal
system. I found that smoking after a meal or a snack was more pleasurable than result that I felt
my abdomen to be light. I also found that by lighting a cigarette in the toilet I could have a clear
and complete motion.
 My smoking habit consisted of about 4 or 6 cigarettes a day even after I quit medical college
and began my private medical practice.
After I went abroad in the late 1960s I continued to smoke both at home and in my office at the
hospital. There was no such forceful campaign in those days against smoking and almost 50%
of the doctors smoked cigarettes. The cigarettes that I smoked abroad were longer in size and
the tobacco was of better quality. However, I was conscious of the effects of my smoking on my
children at home and therefore I avoided smoking in front of my kids. I smoked only in my office
and sometimes at home by closeting myself in the bathroom.
  I returned to India in 1977 but I did not quit smoking. I continued to smoke about 6 cigarettes a
day in all, both in my office and in my house. I continued to enjoy the smoking and it continued
to give me a sense of  rejuvenation and relaxation.
    When my kids grew up and they could look up to me as a good father free from vices, I
realised that it is better to quit smoking. I also wanted to test my mind power in quitting the
habit. There was frequent news items published in the newspapers and magazines about the
dangers of smoking. There was a campaign against smoking that became more and more
unbearable to a smoker like me. Also being a medical doctor I wished to be an example to my
patients by quitting the habit permanently. I showed that it is not impossible to quit smoking if
one wished strongly. So one day in the year 1980 I quit the habit and stopped smoking
  Believe it or not, I stopped smoking totally and never accepted a cigarette then on. I was not a
group smoker, who smokes in company of others. A group smoker can not smoke alone. He
needs some one to give him company while he smokes. Since I was not a group smoker I did
not have any one to force me to smoke once I kicked the habit. I ignored all withdrawal
symptoms. I did not use any alternative methods of use of tobacco like sniffing snuff, chewing
tobacco with paan, etc. I did not have to use toffees, chewing gum or other stuff to keep in my
mouth to help me forget smoking. I had some difficulty going to the toilet and getting a good and
complete motion initially but I ignored this symptom totally. I put on some weight but then I
reduced my calories by eating less, to reduce the weight from time to time. My weight continued
to rise and my waist line became larger and larger. However I did not return to smoking for any
of these symptoms I experienced after I quit smoking.
  In the year 1994 when both of my kids moved out of my house I began to smoke again, this
time with renewed desire to enjoy the habit fully. I had quit smoking for about 12 years when I
restarted smoking. I found that smoking kept me from eating too much. It helped to skip snacks
when I wished to diet in order to keep my body weight down. Smoking also helped me clear my
bowels completely every time I went to the toilet. I was not subject to any feeling of reluctance
to smoke because there was no child in my home when I restarted my smoking habit. My wife
does not smoke, and she tries to discourage me from smoking. But I tell her that I enjoy
smoking and why should she prevent me from enjoying a little bit? She does not show very
strong repulsion to my smoking and therefore she allows me to smoke which I do only in the
toilet. I light a cigarette every time I go to the toilet. I do not smoke after meals and snacks. I
prefer to smoke before my meals and snacks but then only in the toilet.
        I have my philosophy developed regarding this habit of smoking. I find that drinking coffee
or tea is more harmful to our health than smoking. The coffee and tea habits are worse than
smoking. It is unfortunate that we are now letting even little babies drink coffee or tea at home
and outside. Drinking coffee with sugar and milk adds calories to our daily intake and can result
in increase in our body weight. This does not happen with smoking. Smoking helps one to eat
less, and it can also help one to kick the habit of drinking coffee if one tries. Smoking allows
one to avoid starting bad habits such as gambling and drinking alcohol. (If one is already
addicted to gambling and alcohol then smoking can not help the person to kick such habits.)
Smoking continues to be a source of renewed energy for all kinds of workers who work for
hours together in factories, industrial sites, agricultural fields, and every place where the work
is strenuous or boring. A smoke is safer than a cup of coffee or tea.
Now that the Indian government is coming up with a ban on smoking in all places of private
and public businesses, parks, railway stations, bus stands, etc. there will be a problem for
those who habitually smoke for relaxation and rejuvenation in their workplace. I would rather
impose a ban on drinking coffee in these places also but then more people drink coffee or tea
now-a-days, and a ban on it would be disastrous.
I began smoking cigarettes when I was 17 years old and was
working in my father's shop after my high school graduation. During
the coffee break it became a habit for me to buy one cigarette for one
paisa at the small beeda shop on the way to the Taj Mahal
restaurant at which I was having my snacks and a cup of coffee or
tea during the coffee break. I was being paid the amount of money
sufficient for the snacks and coffee by my father at the time I left the
shop for a coffee break. Out of this money I used to save the amount
required to buy a cigarette. I do not know why and how I began this
habit. If there were no cigarettes available in the shops or if there
were no one who smoked in front me, then probably I would not have
had a chance to begin smoking. I was not offered cigarettes by any
friend for me to begin smoking.
I felt a sort of pleasure, which I can not describe adequately, when I
took a puff or two of the cigarette. There was a pleasure in placing
the cigarette between the lips first. There was a pleasure in lighting
the cigarette after striking a match. There was an intense pleasure in
drawing the first puff from the lighted cigarette. The pleasures of
smoking were eagerly awaited by me and the whole sequence that
began from working in the shop, getting tired after work for 2-3 hours,
having snacks and coffee in the restaurant, followed by, like the icing
on the cake, smoking a cigarette, made me feel sort of rejuvenated in
order that I was ready for another couple of hours of hard work in the
This practice of buying a cigarette from the beeda shop continued
with breaks of absence of days or months. Even after I joined the
college for higher education I bought cigarettes if I could spare some
change. After two years in the science college, I joined the medical
college for M.B.B.S. course and throughout my college education
years I smoked cigarettes.
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