Before we get into the "details" of conducting a meeting, we would like to comment on two of our Twelve Traditions, all of which provide form and unity to our entire fellowship.
- Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on Nicotine Anonymous unity. We interpret this to mean that each member of Nicotine Anonymous is a small part of the whole. Nicotine Anonymous must continue to live that we may continue to live - free of nicotine!
Each of us needs to conform to the principles of recovery, since our lives actually depend on obedience to spiritual principles. Therefore we must, as a fellowship, remain united on core issues - or we put personal recovery at risk.
Our program consists of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions along with five tools - meetings, sponsorship, literature, the phone list and service.
Our definition of abstinence is "A state that begins when all use of nicotine ceases".
Tradition One serves as a balance for Tradition Four - Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or Nicotine Anonymous as a whole. At the beginning we said "All of the following are suggestions." Now, being autonomous, your new group will decide which "suggestions" you will use from all that we have included in the meeting formats. The group will decide which literature, if any, you will make available for the members. The group is free to choose. There is no right or wrong. So where does group autonomy end? It ends with the word "except" ...."except in matters affecting other groups or Nicotine Anonymous as a whole."
An example of this would be, suppose all members in the group are smokers. So, instead of using the fellowship definition of "abstinence" the group decides that the quit smoking date will be used as the anniversary date, even though some members continue to use nicotine in another form, such as the patch, gum, or snuff. The smokers in this group, who became abstinent from all use of nicotine when they quit smoking, would probably feel different from other members who were not abstinent. Can you see how this resultant discord could also affect other groups and Nicotine Anonymous as a whole? So how does a group decide these things?
Major decisions as described above are decided by a group conscience. Simply, this is a meeting to determine group core issues. Any member can call for such a meeting. All members are notified about the topic and the time and date (it is usually scheduled right after the regular meeting). The Chairperson or any selected member can run the meeting. All of the members present can express their views on all sides of the issue. The most important voice will be the minority voice. In our experience, many times we have seen the lone voice say something that no one had thought of and bring unity to what had been a chaotic meeting. When all who wanted to speak have spoken, the issue is decided by a "substantial majority" vote. Our view of "substantial" would be two thirds of those present.
A business meeting differs from a group conscience in that all a decision requires at a business meeting is a simple majority. Business meetings are held to decide such things as the next secretary or treasurer, or how much of the group funds will be contributed to World Services. Simply put, a business meeting is to conduct the ongoing business of the group
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