Desperate Mandurah smoker says habit will leave him homeless

Gary Thompson. Picture: Jon Hewson
Gary Thompson. Picture: Jon Hewson

GARY Thomson fears he will become homeless due to his smoking habit.

The Mandurah 50-year-old has been smoking since he was 15 years old and claims the price of cigarettes has become crippling.

He and his partner Annette both smoke about a packet a day, costing them up to $300 a week each.

“We’re struggling to pay our bills,” Mr Thomson said.

“I’ve been pawning everything to keep up with my addiction.

“I’ve even contemplated breaking the law to feed my addiction.

“I’m about to lose my house (a rental) because of nicotine.”

Mr Thomson said his parents smoked and he took up the habit about 35 year ago.

He admitted he had “dabbled” in heroin in the late ‘80s and methylamphetmine, but found the drugs easy to quit.

“I’ve never been able to quit cigarettes though,” he said.

“I’ve tried patches, gum, hypnosis and E-cigarettes.

“I saw my Dad die in my Mum’s arms from lung cancer.

“Dad’s last words were for me to stop smoking.”

Despite the motivation, Mr Thomson was not able to quit.

He said his head felt like it was going to explode whenever he went without cigarettes.

He uses cigarettes as a coping mechanism for his post traumatic stress disorder.

The former truck driver said he had seen one too many road crashes; one fatality in particular gave him nightmares.

“My passion was surfing, but I can’t do that anymore because I don’t have the lung capacity,” Mr Thomson said.

He said he hates cigarettes and what they were doing to his health.

“The price hikes are not helping anyone but the government,” he said.

“What the government is doing is not working; there’s got to be another way.

“I feel hung out to dry.”

Mr Thomson said it felt like the government was tormenting and torturing smokers with the price increases.

He even suggested banning cigarettes might be better than increases in tobacco tax.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said cigarettes were privately priced but with significant government taxes included precisely to reduce demand.

“This is working with dramatic drops in smoking rates,” he said.

The Minister personally offered to arrange for an introduction for Mr Thomson to meet with medical specialists that could help.