Healthy Living in the North

Tales from the Man Cave: The sacred and the evil

Charred pack of cigarettes

Jim’s got a fiery message on the heels of World No Tobacco Day: there is no safe level of exposure to cigarette smoke. There is more support than ever to quit!

Tobacco is not an evil thing in and of itself. It has been used ceremonially for eons in Aboriginal cultures and even used by some for medicinal purposes. As a sacred gift, it has been given and used as a way of making peace or a contract. Historically, it is a very important plant. It has also been used as a pesticide, but this use has largely stopped because it’s also very poisonous when eaten.

Tobacco smoke it is both a relaxant and a stimulant. It can help with depression but may also cause depression. It can make you calm and it can make you more anxious. It is thought to be the type of drug that opens up the brain to develop other addictions and is therefore called a gateway drug.

Boring it is not. Dangerous it is.

So, on the heels of World No Tobacco Day, the main point of this blog is not to disparage the tobacco plant but rather the misuse of tobacco, outside of its sacred, traditional use.

When misused, tobacco is a killer. Smoke it, chew it, snuff it and it will addict you! It will lead to cancer and it will kill you. It will kill you through many different cancers, such as lung cancer, but also through heart disease and lung disease.

Make no mistake: the misuse of tobacco products in a modern context such as cigarette smoking or chewing is a great evil that may kill 1 billion people on this planet in this century according to the World Health Organization.

The language in this blog is a little strong, but I feel this strongly about it.

It is my wish that not another lung choke, nor another heart fail, nor another living thing die from this addiction. And my wish for you, the smoker and tobacco user, is to know that it can be overcome. There is more support than ever! You can access free counselling by text, phone or email as well as information to help you quit at

If you are a smoker, encourage your children to never start using tobacco.

It is hard, yes. But you can do it! All British Columbians can access free nicotine patches or nicotine gum through the BC Smoking Cessation Program.

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.



  1. Judy McLarty says

    For some of us (even well-educated and aware of the extreme dangers), tobacco is a much worse addiction than heroin. I’m one of these people. I’ve tried everything including all the cessation products, hypnosis, cold turkey, slow reduction, prescribed drugs (which made me suicidal) – and nothing has worked. There are residential programs for heroin addicts and alcoholics, but not for severely addicted tobacco smokers. There are therapists and counselors who help with illegal drugs, but not for smokers. I’m not taking about a ‘Quit Smoking’ program, I’m talking about complete immersion in detox and rehab – in a safe, comfortable environment. I can’t afford the thousands of dollars for a private rehab facility. I would think with the $$millions governments collect in taxes from the sale of tobacco, they could fund rehab centres for us. No such luck. Stop preaching and do this – it will make a world of difference.

    • Thank you for your comment, Judy. Quitting smoking is incredibly difficult and often takes multiple attempts and various resources (if you are interested, Jim recently wrote a post about his own quitting journey). If you’d like to talk more with a member of our tobacco team in your area about what specific resources, including counselors, are available in your area, please send me a note at and I can arrange to have someone contact you. –Vince Terstappen