Illustration © Sergi Balfegó

I smoked for twenty-two years. After many attempts, I left it twenty years ago. I used to smoke more than three packages a day. I had read somewhere that if you try it again and again, you get it. And I tried to quit smoking every day. After countless defeats and much anxiety, I left it.

I was fully aware that my smoking behavior was suicidal. A proof of this is that eleven years after quitting they found a tumor in my lung. But when I smoked I was so hooked on it and it was so much a part of my personality that leaving it was an impossible task. Or so it seemed. In fact, one day I got up and did not smoke and I did not have problems with it since then. I was hungrier and that’s all.

I am outraged when I read that the leading cause of death among people with mental disorder is smoking. And I say outrage because despite society has become more aware in the last years, it seems that tobacco still has a certain glamor. I see teenagers smoking their first cigarettes and I feel like shouting at them because they are doing crazy. Eight million people worldwide die every year from tobacco consumption. And there are many more with bronchitis or emphysema. We get hooked on it when we are young and afterwards quitting becomes a real problem.

We, the people with mental disorder, die more because of smoking than suicides. If 30% ofthe people without mental disorder consume tobacco, among us the percentage raises to 80%. Especially among people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The trend is going down, but the situation is still very serious.

In the “Guía para la intervención clínica en consumo de tabaco en personas con trastorno mental” is stated that people with severe mental disorders die directly from tobacco or from diseases worsened by it between twenty-five and thirty years earlier than the general population.

There is still people who offer you tobacco as a gesture of fellowship! You tell them that you do not smoke and they say to you: “Smoke a cigarette! One of them does nothing to you.” When they offer me tobacco I break the cigarette, and this way they do not offer me anymore tobacco.

This is a difficult subject because I am fully aware of the complexity of quitting smoking. Tobacco causes you stress even when you are smoking. And the only solution the nervous system offers you is smoking more. The body asks you for nicotine urgently.

You can quit smoking. I have done it. I have not smoked a single cigarette in twenty years. Now there are plans to help us quit smokingin hospitals and mental health institutions. The health staff is aware of how damaging the consumption of tobacco in our collective is.

There are solutions. I do not say that quitting is very easy, but there are solutions. And it is important to stop smoking.

Sometimes we are so desperate that smoking seems to us a small mistake. But tobacco is a serious problem.

Try it. And if you fail, try it again.

Fèlix Rozey