In this blog post I am going to share with you my story with smoking cigarettes for five or so years, how it all started, why I stopped and how.
I will try to make this post pleasant to read and inspirational so by the end of it you will get encouraged to think again about your smoking habit.
Before we begin, would you care for a short story?
My dad was a heavy smoker
For 20 years of his life, my dad was a heavy smoker. In fact, his smoking habit made me hate cigarettes and smoking. Here’s his story:
In my youth, my dad worked abroad but he would return back home from time to time.
Each time he’s abroad, I start to forget what cigarettes smells like in a car with windows closed. What a bliss!
One time, after he came back for a visit, he was driving my sisters and myself to school. I was like 12 years old, the smoke in the car bothered us so I said to him in fury: “Go back abroad, we were happy without the smell of your cigarettes”.
Little did I know that what I said as a young boy had a huge effect on my dad. My dad continued to smoke during his visit and then traveled back to work overseas.
A year later when he came back, we were surprised to see that he had given up smoking completely.
The family asked him: “Why did you stop smoking?” and his reply was humble and simple: “It is bad for my health”.
What happened, how and why he really did it stayed on my mind and kept me wondering secretly.
One day, I was at the same barber where my dad and I have our haircuts. The barber, like most barbers, befriends and chit-chats with his clients.
On one occasion, the barber boasted: “Did you know that your dad stopped smoking because of you?”
“What?!”, I exclaimed. The barber replied back: “Yes, your dad said that you hurt his feelings. It was hard for him to hear that you did not miss him rather you were wishing him to go away just because of cigarette smell. You and your words were the reason he stopped smoking”.
Later in my adult life, I asked my dad: “So how did you stop smoking?”
His reply was simple but not very helpful: “I just decided to stop so I stopped. Cold turkey”.
Me: “What about temptation and the 20 years habit?”
Dad: “Yes, at first it was hard but I maintained my decision and after a while the desire to smoke started to fade away slowly but surely. Now, If I smell cigarette smoke on people it really bothers me”.
How I got hooked to smoking
One of my very close friend is a heavy smoker. He smokes around 30 cigarettes a day (at least). Hanging out with this friend makes you a passive smoker.
One day I decided to borrow a cigarette from him and see what it tastes like.
The first cigarette was a bit hard and disgusting to smoke. As a beginner, I did not swallow the smoke, however I still coughed and hated the taste.
I loved the feeling I got from the first cigarette though. It was a pleasant dizzy feeling with a mix of relaxation and tension relief. The feeling did not last long enough and so I wanted to smoke one more to extend those pleasant feelings.
Over the course of weeks, one cigarette lead to another. Just because of the feeling I got from the first cigarette, my mind believed the promise that smoking gives a pleasant dizzy feeling.
For a period of three month, I was smoking occasionally but only when I hang out with friends that smoke and that let me borrow cigarettes from them.
Slowly but surely, three month of occasional smoking by borrowing cigarettes from friends made me more dependent on cigarettes.
During that initial period, I never bought a pack. It was not because I am cheap, instead it was because I felt that if I have my own pack I will smoke more.
After a while, I did not accept to borrow anymore so I started buying my own packs but with one condition: I will exercise my “strong will power” to retain my “occasional smoker” status.
Every smoker knows that smoking will eventually become out of control and there will be times when you will smoke more than your “will power” was willing to permit.
Bottom line: I got hooked!
The “benefits” I enjoyed while smoking
Shortly after I started carrying my own pack, cigarettes became my buddies, always in my pocket.
I would take breaks, go out and spend my private five minutes with my cigarettes or with other smokers.
I started to form the “typical smokers’ habits” by observing others, watching movies or ads.
A cigarette in the morning is a ritual for many, it became my own ritual as well. After lunch, a cigarette is a bliss. Sometimes, as I learned from observing my friend, I would take a break in the middle of the meal and smoke a cigarette then continue eating.
With alcohol, cigarettes taste much better. I smoked more with drinks!
At work, when stressed out it was a perfect excuse to take a break.
Chain smoking was not a strange thing to me, in fact, I was a natural. I did not see or learn from anyone how to do it. It felt obvious to me to light the next cigarettes using the previous cigarette before it dies out.
I would chain smoke when I abstain for longer periods without smoking (as if subconsciously trying to compensate).
So why was I smoking for five years, almost a pack every two or three days?
As I come to think about it now, it seems I believed that smoking was pleasant and beneficial:
- It helped me with stress and stress relief
- It gave me a moment to escape from situations and be alone
- It was enjoyable while drinking alcohol or black coffee
- It was an ice breaker that helped me socializing with other smokers
- It was a reward to myself after a long stretch of not smoking
- I was simply hooked and smoking was a way to relief the addiction
As I will explain in the next section, all those “benefits” are nothing but an illusion.
Why I decided to stop smoking?
My smoking habits and addiction started to interfere with my health and my social image.
At least once a month I would have an infected throat or become susceptible to flu and remain sick for a long time.
I would be doing a physical activity or simply running but mucus and coughing would not cease from interfering with my performance.
I would be in social gathering and I would stink.
Similarly, being in a company of a special one, a kiss makes me too much self aware and uncomfortable because in my own mind I think that “I stink”
Certain places frown upon smokers. Hanging around fancy buildings or outside restaurants next to dumpster bins is a very humiliating act by itself.
When I had to go for long flights, I was agonizing for not to being able to smoke when I wanted.
Some airports had small cubicles for smokers. In such cubicles, other smokers will cram inside with you so that you all smoke together. An active smoker is also a passive smoker in that room.
Some other times, I would be partying late, having fun and drinking a lot and then realize that I ran out of cigarettes. Imagine the pain when I figured out that the only way to smoke is to beg or borrow a cigarette.
While I never did that myself, some people would approach me to buy a cigarette from me for one dollar!
What about standing outside a night club, stopping total strangers and begging for a cigarette (perhaps I did that once or twice)?
What if you were living in an apartment complex where they have a strict “NO SMOKING” policy. Imagine each time you want to smoke, you have to walk out of your apartment, take the elevator all the way down to the street, find a smoker friendly spot around the building and then finally be able to smoke a cigarette. That is at least 15 minutes lost per cigarette!
During my 5+ years, I had suffered from various embarrassing and humiliating experiences, diseases, set backs and other things and all of that is because of smoking.
If you are a smoker or ex-smoker, you may have identified yourself with one of the scenarios I described above. There is no need for me to tell you more about all my other negative experiences with smoking, just reflect back and look at your own life as a smoker.
How I stopped smoking?
First, I asked myself the golden question:
What am I really getting when I smoke?
By answering sincerely, my response was:
Being inspired by my dad, reaping no benefits whatsoever from smoking and due to all of the reasons I described above, I took the decision to stop smoking.
Taking the decision is the first step. Believing in yourself and knowing that you can do it and making sincere efforts to stop smoking is the second step.
It was during the birthday party of a neighbor, who was my smoking buddy, that I took the decision to stop smoking. That night I smoked my last cigarette.
I bought Allen Carr’s The Easy Way to Stop Smoking: Join the Millions Who Have Become Non-Smokers Using Allen Carr’s Easyway Method book in order to boost my will power and stick to my decision.
This book was awesome, it helped me stay in check until my initial 20 days period was over and the temptation to give-in to smoking was slowly fading away.
I will not discuss the difficulties I had or how I faced them, one thing for sure is that I kept my decision and never gave in again. I advise you to read the book mentioned above.
I hope this write-up was inspirational and I wish you all the luck in your journey if you decide to stop smoking.
Before I conclude, this was one of my favorite smokers’ joke that I would like to share with you:
Two old ladies are outside their nursing home, having a smoke, when it starts to rain. One of the ladies pulls out a condom, cuts off the end, puts it over her cigarette and continues smoking.
Mary: What’s that?
Janette: A condom. This way my cigarette doesn’t get wet.
Mary: Where did you get that?
Janette: You can get them at any drugstore.
The next day, Mary hobbles herself into the local drugstore and announces to the pharmacist that she wants a box of condoms.
The guy, obviously embarrassed, looks at her kind of strangely (she is after all over 80 years of age), but very delicately asks what brand she prefers.
Mary: Doesn’t matter son, as long as it fits a camel.
The pharmacist faints.
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