I recently came across a picture of myself smoking a cigarette and my first reaction, after looking over each shoulder twice, checking to make sure that no children, coworkers or McGruff the Crime Dog were looking, was to DESTROY ALL EVIDENCE!!! I will admit that I have been a smoker during parts of both my adolescent and adult life, quitting periodically for various reasons. I made my final decision about quitting a few weeks before my 26th birthday, telling myself that to effectively prevent smoking related health issues in the future, not to mention for reasons of pure vanity, (premature wrinkles and yellow teeth? I’ll pass on that, thank you) I would cease smoking after that point. And that sort of worked. I most certainly had cut back DRAMATICALLY and had been doing so for some time by placing total restrictions for smoking in both my car and in the house even prior to my final declaration to quit once and for all. However, I was finding major difficulty in my quest for a better life especially when it came to the social element of smoking.
When I first started smoking it was because my friends did and I wanted to rebel against all that was decent pure and drive my parents crazy all at the same time. Shocking, right? I’m sure my story will ring true with many people who started smoking in early adolescence and just kept on keepin’ on well after the peer pressure melted away. I would chain smoke on my drive to school and/or work all through my teens & early 20’s, lighting up in between every class even if the class was less than a stone’s throw away or WORSE, in the same building. And I convinced myself I wasn’t addicted? The funny thing is I still DON’T believe I was fully addicted in the sense of nicotine having a sticky hold around my lungs. I was, however, completely addicted in the social sense. I needed a cigarette to talk to someone, to order a drink at a bar, to hang out at a show, to walk from point A to B. In a way, a cigarette was like a can of mace or a Pit Bull at my side. Smoking was a barrier that I was able to keep secured around myself when I didn’t want to be approached and used as an alluring gauze that would attract fellow comrades in cigs when I wanted to socialize. A cigarette could act as another member in a conversation when there was a lull. There was no fear of feeling weak or inadequate when I had a “friend” with me, you know? I could conquer anything with my trusty sidekick and I used to rank cigarettes as #1 in my tri-fecta of importance, #2 being gas and #3 being food. A pretty screwy system in retrospect but I thought I had it allllll figured out.
There were also two major outside factors which caused me to rethink my habits. The first was when cigarettes went from being an unheard of $5+ a pack to its current range of outrageousness, $7-$9 depending where you go. (FYI – cigarettes are still comparatively cheap down south. Another good reason we left North Carolina when we did. But I digress…) The second was when the bars and restaurants around here started putting the ban on smoking. Even the most dedicated smoker will contemplate whether leaving their seat at the bar is worth standing outside in the rain/snow/freezing cold/whatever to suck a fag (and if your mind went there, then shame on you, because in my vocabulary a fag is a smoking implement ONLY and yes my mind DID go there only after I wrote it out and it made me laugh and I’m leaving it so shame on me too, thank you, this has been a public service announcement, moving on…).
I am, what some would call, practical in the money sense. That’s the nicest way to put it though frugal would work as well. I’m not a cheapskate, I just do not like wasting money and to me, $6.50 for a pack of smokes that would end up being $20 or more each week was $20 more than I could afford to waste. So, like any person truly dedicated to the craft of remaining cool and “with it” while sticking to their guns (somewhat), I just started bumming smokes from people when the occasion came to be and it was a kosher smoking environment. I’m sure that made me outrageously popular and wickedly in demand for social functions but it was my way of still being a part of the group without completely breaking my vows. You see for the past 2 years or so I haven’t actually purchased a pack of cigarettes for myself. That’s not to say I haven’t smoked more than a few packs in that time but I know it’s a vast improvement from where I was just 5 years ago.
Are you starting to wonder where I’m actually going with this? Ha! Me too. Ok, so my point is that quitting smoking is no easy feat but you just need to put it in your mind that this is what you want and what you are going to do. Set restrictions for your smoking habits and after awhile just the smell of smoke will sicken you, trust me. Beside the reasons I mentioned earlier, one of the bigger factors in keeping me away from the ol’ smoke sticks is the ecological impact. That’s right, all those butts thrown out windows and in storm drains? Yeah, they’re probably still there people, filters DO NOT biodegrade. So unless every time I, or you for that matter, smoke a cigarette and put the remaining offender in some sort of trash receptacle for proper disposal, we are a part of the problem and just another litterbug. For shame! Also, as a smoker in recovery, I have noticed how it has become less and less acceptable to smoke publicly or in common areas, even outside. Have you ever seen people smoke at Disney World? Probably not, because if you do choose to smoke there you are confined to 1 of 5 designated smoking areas located around some corner of some building that is used infrequently or under construction and placed at the ass end of the park, usually near a bathroom (gag!), and so basically you are a park pariah. If you know a reluctant quitter, send them to Disney, that place can shame you into kicking the habit. But the HUGE HUGE HUGE reason for not smoking anymore is I have an amazing 12 year old sister who looks up to me quite a bit and I would be just devastated if she decided to smoke because I do.
I do still crave cigarettes from time to time and I do not know when or if I will ever completely and totally be done with them. Lately, when I have one I can’t even stand the smell of my hand after I put it out so much so that I have to run to a bathroom and wash my hands profusely. I hate the smell of it on my clothes and hair and find myself pissed when I walk into an area where there is smoking and I’m not and I am now left with the side-effect of stink on my person. G.R.O.S.S. I know I have a lot of work to do until I am totally smoke-free but the intent is there and no one said it was going to be easy…
I also cannot live with the thought of letting down C3-PO. Can you?