Meditations on Smoking.

Photobucket circa 2009

I listen to KEXP on my way to work every morning, and yesterday morning there was a guest DJ sitting in for the regular host, John Richards. This guest DJ made a comment about how he had quit smoking recently, and that he had an app on his phone that kept track of how many cigarettes he hadn’t smoked (949!) in the 75 days since he’d quit. And then he talked about how much it sucked to quit, but that he was too old to keep doing it.

I found this aside very interesting, partly in that it was apropos of nothing that pertained to the radio program, but also partly because it got me thinking about how many cigarettes I could avoid smoking if I quit for 75 days. I calculated it, and 75 days would equal approximately 525 cigarettes, which is 26.25 packs of cigarettes, which would cost $237.

Money is just one of the several reasons why I should want to quit smoking. It makes me reek of smoke, it makes people frown at me, it makes me unnecessarily winded when I walk up a flight of stairs, and as many of my friends and relatives like to remind me, smoking will KILL YOU. And somehow, I still don’t feel an overwhelming conviction to stop.

I think any smoker would tell you that half the battle is breaking habits, because as we all know, old habits die hard. I’m convinced that I’m not addicted to nicotine, but rather the familiarity and routine of smoking in the same places and at the same times. Every day, I smoke on my way to and from work, I smoke when I go to get lunch and when I walk the mail down to the mailbox at while I’m at work, I smoke when I walk to the grocery store or to friends’ houses, and I smoke just about every time I get in my car to drive somewhere. I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I didn’t smoke in those situations… I’d probably just rock myself back and forth and twitch nervously. I like having something to do with my hands, and there is a strange comfort in bringing a cigarette to my lips and taking a draw.

Habit is definitely a huge part of why I smoke, but I think an even more significant reason is that it’s an easy social out. I’m a socially anxious person, so when I’m at a party or in a large gathering of people, sometimes I get really overwhelmed and need to make a quick exit for a moment to regain my composure. Nobody bats an eyelash if you tell them “I’m going to step outside for a cigarette,” but I would assuredly get strange looks if I said “I’m feeling anxious and uncomfortable being around people, so I’m going to go give myself a pep talk on the porch.”

I quit smoking in 2009 for over a year, and then went through a bad break-up and started back up again, so I know that it’s possible to quit. But right now, I just don’t want to. And I truly believe that genuinely wanting to quit is what makes all the difference: I’m going to have a hard time quitting unless I’m 100% committed to changing that aspect of my lifestyle. I don’t want to be a smoker forever, and I don’t think I will be; if I’m not ready to quit by the time I’m thirty, I will make myself quit whether I like it or not. But for now, it’s a small comfort in a sometimes uncomfortable world, so I’m going to allow myself to indulge a little.

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One response to “Meditations on Smoking.

  1. I am a former smoker myself (a little more than a year ago under my belt). It was the habit for me too, not the nicotine and I used it as a way to leave the room. I think I quit about three times before I actually quit, and it is true: you have to want to quit. Before I was quitting because everyone wanted me to. I did start slow by breaking one habit at a time. No smoking while talking on the phone, no smoking in the car, etc. When the time comes, I wish you the best and remember the list in your head of why you are quitting.

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