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Mar 16 08 6:48 PM
On Feb. 11th I completed presenting 63 cessation seminars in 28 S.C. prisons and much of what I heard from both inmates and staff belongs in this thread.
These prisons had made all tobacco illegal and in maximum security prisons (what's called Level 3) the price for a single cigarette was usually near $8
dollars. At my first female prison I shared the $8 figure and one lady afterwards claimed that she was paid $40 for a single cigarette while boasting,
"and her parents put the money in my account!"
At my very first prison the warden said that inmates were caught trading illegal drugs for tobacco, something he thought he'd never in his lifetime
see. Inmates at lower level prisons doing roadside cleanup were often caught trying to get the butts inside. I used this in later presentations by asking
inmates to reflect on what animal may have urinated upon them first. An ice breaker, it usually brought a laugh. Needless to say that Bibles were
disappearing at an alarming rate as the thin paper was used to hand roll cigarettes.
At a number of prisons I heard reports of inmates selling themselves for cigarettes. At every prison there were stories that once the new policy went into
effect that inmates were caught experimenting with smoking tea or coffee, but no story where any inmate did so twice.
One thing that really crystalized in my mind is just how similar tobacco becomes to other drugs of addiction once declared illegal. With a prison retail
per price of nearly $1,600 per carton (10 packs x 20 cigarettes each x $8), which was usually heavily discounted if purchased by the pack, we saw a number
of correctional officers and other staff members lose their jobs for getting caught attempting to supplement their modest wages by selling cigarettes.
At one prison they were flying remote controlled airplanes and helicopters and dropping cigarettes like bombs into prison yards. One warden took me into
his office and showed a number of cards and letters received that very day that had attempted to bring into the prison loose tobacco that appeared to have
been dumped into each. Out of 28 prisons, while nearly all x-rayed my shoes only two had me turn all my pockets inside out.
Initially I was a bit concerned about the fact that most of the prisons were scheduling seminars AFTER the policy went into effect but Joel was correct (as
always) in seeing this as a positive not a negative. He assured me that many would be living in perpetual relapse and would value what they'd hear.
But I promise you, never once did I feel superior to what I was hearing as I did some rather horrible things during my 30 years in order to produce that
next fix. They are things I'd rather not remember like going underwater on an FBM patrol with no cigarettes or money in order to force myself to quit
and then spending the entire patrol living out of ashtrays or begging. How much lower can a man get than that? Still just one rule ... no nicotine today!
John (Gold x8)
Mar 31 08 8:20 PM
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Thanks Ben for bringing this up again - it's ages since I first found this, then lost its whereabouts.I think it would do me good to wallow in some of the despicable things that my nicotine addiction made me do. So here goes:-
The first 2 quits ended when I had family members who smoked staying in my house. I thought I was secure enough at that time so I allowed smoking in the house but didn't realise that when they left packets of cigs around I would turn into a sneak thief! I started waiting until they had gone to bed and then helping myself. I would only take one cig. if there were plenty left in the packet so it wouldn't be missed. I would have a few crafty puffs during the day but save most of the cig for last thing when I would take my dogs for a walk in the woods. The first deep drag made me so giddy I actually fell down! did that stop me? hell no! I just couldn't wait until the next day to steal another.
My 3rd quit ended when I started stealing cigarette butts from the ashtrays I was cleaning up after my AA meeting! one wealthy lady would only take 2 puffs before stubbing her cigarette out - those butts were like gold! How low can a girl sink?
A lot of my clothes had small burns in them from when hot bits of ash dropped off the end of a cigarette. I remember covering up one such a hole in my favourite jacket with a pretty brooch.My last canine family was a mother and her 2 pups; she died of old age, having seen both her sons die prematurely of cancer. I will always wonder how much my smoking contributed to that and feel dreadful guilt. My present 2 dogs have lived half their lives with a smoker but I hope their second half will remain un-polluted.
I first decided to quit when by daughter was around 14. I chose that time because that is the age when the youngsters here tend to start smoking and I wanted to set her a good example. I couldn't do what my Mum did and lecture me about not smoking while continuing the habit herself. I survived for nearly 3 years that time but then started again as mentioned above. For many weeks I got away with it but one day I was returning home from the shops in my car, smoking a sneaky cigarette, when I got caught in a traffic jam and saw my daughter, who should have been in school but was out on some errand with a bunch of her class-mates. To my acute embarrassment, she spotted me first and shouted out loudly "Mother - you're smoking again!". OMG should have been the other way round, not teenage daughter ticking off middle-aged mum.
I am not by nature dishonest, or a thief, but my nicotine addiction was stronger by far than my moral sense of right and wrong. Thank God it is all in the past and I can live clean and honest and with integity.
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