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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Friday 30th November 2012

I really like Twitter. It has taken me quite a long time to come to that realisation. I started using Twitter when I started writing this blog, nearly eighteen months ago. I decided it might be a way of promoting this site and I wasn’t too interested in what else Twitter had to offer.

Prior to that, I had been one of those people who condemn things without knowing anything about them. While pleading ‘guilty’ to the charge of blind prejudice I want to put forward, in mitigation, that my knowledge of Twitter was mostly based on the media’s characterisation of it as a place for celebrities to tell the world what they had for breakfast.

Once I joined I stepped very slowly; following people whose work I found interesting or who were tweeting about ‘my’ subjects; plants and drug policy. Soon, I came to find Twitter to be very useful in leading me to stories or reports that I might have missed if I were relying on my own searches of the internet. My attitude moved from suspicion and cynicism through neutrality and on to a mild liking of what Twitter has to offer.

What has changed that to become ‘really liking’ is that, this week Twitter, for me, acted properly like a network by bringing information from one area of interest into another. I’ll try and explain. One of the people I started following early on is Marian Macdonald a dairy farmer in Victoria, Australia. Marian blogs about serious issues surrounding farming and lighter stories about bringing up children on a farm. I followed her, in part, to get an idea of how to write my own blog and kept following her because I find the issues she raises of interest.

Yesterday, Marian tweeted a link to a YouTube video of what she called ‘Perhaps the most touching ad I've ever seen’. I clicked her link expecting just to find it diverting and was surprised that it had relevance to a core area of interest for me. Before I go any further, have a look at the video so I don’t have to describe it. (Video produced for and owned by Thai Health Promotion Foundation.)

I would love to know much more about the people in the ad because it may be that a core belief for me is untrue. When I get to Nicotiana, tobacco, in my talks I say;

‘…statistically, 50% of those who smoke regularly shorten their lives as a result but…anecdotally, 100% of smokers believe themselves to be in the other 50%.’
Saturday 22nd October 2011

Now, I’m wondering if that is true. I’d love to know how many of the smokers filmed refusing to light a cigarette for a child would say that they don’t expect to be harmed by smoking and how many believe they are truly in the grip of an addiction and would love to break free if only they could.

I don’t think there is a single way to get people to stop smoking so I believe people who spend money buying the latest book about a sure-fire quit method are fooling themselves. The approach taken in this ad might work for some people but, I’m sure, you have to find each individual’s trigger point.

In the 1980s I had a very arrogant boss. (Yes, I know they all are but this one was in a class of his own.) He liked nothing better than to call in his management team, usually around 6pm when we might have been beginning to wonder if it would be acceptable to go home, and spend an hour or more telling us how he could manipulate people to get whatever he wanted in any situation and how there was nothing he couldn’t achieve if he set his mind to it.

One evening, I think it was about 8pm, I’d had enough so I told him he was talking nonsense by saying he could do whatever he wanted while sitting smoking his 40th cigarette of the day. He put it out and it was two weeks before he lit another one. I got fired about a year later so I’m not recommending this technique to anyone else. I’m just saying that there are lots of different things that might trigger a quit attempt so a policy that says ‘this is the way and there is no other’ is doomed to fail.

And that applies as much to drug treatment policies as smoking.


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