the half-percent club
over 46,500,000 (that's 46.5 million) americans smoke.*
the half-percent club isn't like other clubs: nobody nominates you for membership; you nominate yourself. nobody votes on whether you can or cannot become a member; your vote is the only one that counts.
of those, 70% (or 32,550,000) say they want to quit.*
of those, 34% (or 11,067,000) attempt to quit each year.*
of those, 2.5% (or 276,675) succeed.*
that's about one-half of one percent of the total number of american smokers.
the half-percent club.
* (these statistics are taken from the american lung association publication, "TRENDS IN TOBACCO USE", published in june of 2002. since i don't have similar statistics for any other country, i'm going to assume that the percentages are about the same; people are people, wherever they live, and nicotine is nicotine, no matter who's addicted to it...)
the half-percent club has no meetings; it has no meeting halls.
it has no officers; no president, no secretary, no treasurer.
it doesn't march in parades, organize food, clothing or fund drives, hold garage sales or have bingo on wednesdays.
but it does have dues.
and if you want to be a member, you have to pay your dues.
it doesn't matter who you know, doesn't matter what you know, doesn't matter if you're from the right family, doesn't matter if you went to the right school, doesn't matter if you're from the right side of the tracks, doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, doesn't matter if your skin is the right color, doesn't matter what religion you follow (or even if you follow any at all), doesn't matter what your political opinions are.
the only thing that matters is that you pay your dues.
because the half-percent club isn't like other clubs: nobody nominates you for membership; you nominate yourself. nobody votes on whether you can or cannot become a member; your vote is the only one that counts. you elect yourself.
as long as you pay your dues.
as long as you never take that first puff; as long as you're clean, you're a card-carrying, paid-in-full member. and nobody can vote you out, or even ask you to leave; once you've paid your dues, the only way to lose your membership is to take it away from yourself by taking that first puff.