April 24, 2020

Guillaume, Belgium : “How I changed my mind about tobacco policies”

“I run a EU smokers’ campaign. But back when I was at the university, I was an anti-tobacco advocate…” READ ON →


In the France of the late 1980s, smoking prevention was everywhere. Whether in the street or at school, my brain, which was not yet ten years old and had never paid the slightest attention to cigarettes, was paradoxically constantly being commandeered by these messages.

As a teenager, responding to the invitation of the high school’s cheap thugs, I tried smoking a few cigarettes, but I didn’t like it.

When I was old enough to buy tobacco legally, I still didn’t smoke, but I kept a pack in a drawer because I had discovered how pleasant the smell of unsmoked tobacco was. As a young adult, I tried a cigar; I found it interesting but I could not afford to continue.

Back when I was at the university, I curiously became a champion of tobacco control. I remember trying to convince my dates to quit smoking. It felt so right to be on the side of life!

My opinion began to change when I realised that even nice people could become obnoxious when given the slightest opportunity by a smoker. It was this sigmatisation of smokers, and the belief that the personal freedom of adults was at least as important as the objectives of the Health Minister, that made me change my mind.

Today, I smoke less than a pack a year, mostly to share a moment with some friends. I have no addiction. But it is enough to be seen by the authorities as a smoker, and therefore as the subject of invasive public policies.