Let the Funeral for the Unknown Smoker Be Your Resurrection

Jim Christopher Health Guide
  • I was very pleased with the second annual International Festival of Recovery, held all day Saturday, April 25, 2009, in the Center for Inquiry, Los Angeles. Secular Organizations for Sobriety/Save Our Selves (SOS), founded by yours truly in 1985, celebrated 24 years of service at this well-attended event. SOS is an alternative to faith-based, 12-step groups. SOS welcomes all persons struggling with addictive disorders, including folks who seek support in their efforts to stop smoking.

     

    An important component of the Festival was the tenth annual Funeral for the Unknown Smoker. I'd arranged for the SOS booth in the lobby to feature the open casket holding the "body" of the "deceased" - a large grotesque poster composed of real photos of both male and female body parts - graphically illustrating the ravages cigarette smokers have succumbed to as a direct result of their addiction to nicotine and years of smoking. COLORS magazine created this devastating image years before in a special anti-smoking issue.

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    Folks were drawn to our booth as they would be viewing the results of any other catastrophe; one simply can't turn away.

     

    At 2:30 that Saturday afternoon a single spotlight illuminated the closed casket, propped up on a dolly to face the audience.

     

    David Barlia, a nonsmoker and technical adviser for the Funeral event, entered stage left, ukulele in hand, pausing by the casket. He began to whistle a plaintive melody softy strumming as I entered stage right, microphone in hand. I gently removed the casket lid and sang the following lyrics which I'd penned several weeks earlier; the short song was entitled "Ode to the Unknown Smoker":

     

    You're the unknown, unknown smoker
    On display for one and all

    You're the unknown, unknown smoker
    And this is your funeral

    In life you denied your addiction
    And died of your affliction

    You're the unknown, unknown smoker
    And this is your funeral

     

    After this musical presentation I shared some stories about smoking-related deaths and afflictions.

     

    The "Funeral" can be your resurrection, your awakening from apathy, avoidance. You can take today as your gift-of-life opportunity to stop smoking. I wish you well and success in your quest to begin anew, living life free from active nicotine addiction.

     

    For support, email me at jchristopher.thcn@gmail.com. I look forward to being with you again next week.

     

Published On: May 05, 2009