9 January 2016

One Less Bad Habit or A Smoke Free Polkaroo

I have another confession to make. I used to smoke and I liked it. I loved the way the first cigarette of the day would wake me up and get me going. Nothing beat a smoke and a beer after a long day at work. Take a break, light one up and inhale that lovely nicotine. Damn that was stupid.
I started smoking, like a lot of people, when I was a teen. Probably to be cool or something. Everybody I hung out with did and I wanted to fit in. I can still remember the foul taste and odour from that first pack. I coughed and choked and kept at it. Terrible, but slowly I began to need one. I needed the lift it provided or the calmness when I was upset. It was the last thing I did before sleeping and the first thing I thought of when I woke up. I have been addicted to many things in my life, but nothing can match tobacco for sheer destruction and cost.
I would imagine being smoke free, but it scared the hell out of me. What would I do when a craving hit? How would I calm my nerves? Would I get fat(ter)? I was never the best person at denying myself any pleasure, so quitting smoking seemed like something I could do later.
As I got older, I noticed that I knew less people who smoked. Many of my friends and family never did, so it was a non starter with them. Some people I knew tried many times to quit before it took hold and many gave up trying and kept on puffing. I may have tried to quit once or twice, but never seriously.
Sitting outside all winter to get my fix, I bought propane heaters for the garage and thought this was normal. Having to get up from a movie or party and traipse outside for a butt was something I did so often I should have just stayed out there. I was hooked, knew it and didn't care.
Summer was easier, I could stay outside all night and smoke while I drank my macro brews. Something about alcohol and tobacco just clicked and I associated them with each other. I would smoke like a chimney when drinking, often going through two packs at a party. This was part of the pattern of abuse I put on myself. I didn't care about the future, just right now.
A year and a half ago, I was in a wedding party and if you know me, you know I love an open bar. The wedding was in September, so the weather was still fine and I looked forward to a night of drinking, dancing and of course smoking. Many of my "smoke free" friends still puffed on stogies when we drank, so I would have company that night. A funny thing happened as the blessed day approached. I had seen people using e-cigarettes and thought no way that would work for me. Beside that, we were broke all the time and I couldn't afford it.  My cousin Angie and her husband Glen bought me one when I expressed a desire to try it and quit smoking. I hung on to it, trying it out now and then, but still spending upwards of $100 a week on packs of Player's. But with the wedding approaching and the knowledge that I would be stuffed into a limo with non smokers made me self conscious of the smell associated with it and I decided for that one night I would use the "vape" only.
My last cigarette was when I was driving back from Burlington after picking up the flowers for the wedding. As I puffed away down the QEW, I decided it wouldn't just be that night I wouldn't use the demon weed, it would be for good. I had half a pack left and put it in the ashtray of the truck in case I failed; I always hedged my bets.
 I threw them away a week later.
It was a wonderful evening and while I drank way too much still, I didn't smoke. I vaped away like a hipster (I know) and showed it to my mom and dad, both of whom had smoked for decades. Little did I know that by the end of the year Dad would have quit any sort of smoking altogether with the help of this little machine and Mom was not far behind. The next day dawned and I didn't smoke again. It continued that way as the winter came down over us and I had no desire to ever go back.
Early in 2015, we finally came up with our first workable budget and I knew I would never smoke again. The financial costs are out of this world. At $11 a day and around 9 packs a week, we were going broke one cancer stick at a time. My costs on keeping the e-cig going come in at about $40 every 6 weeks or so, just remarkable. Controlling my bad habits has not only improved my life, it has been a financial windfall. This is the stuff grown ups have to do I guess.
I realise that vaping is still not good for you, but there are far less chemicals and other nasty stuff coming out when you do, so it is a start. I am trying to work up the courage to give up even this device. I know there are serious concerns about its long term affects and have no desire to leave this world even a minute before my time is up, let alone accelerate it by poisoning myself. But for now, it keeps me off the cigarettes and that is a victory I savour.
I try to leave it at home if we go out and find myself using it less and less each week. Not binge drinking helps me to avoid temptation and I don't have the edgy feeling I would get when I couldn't smoke for a few hours.
I have made so many changes to my lifestyle in the last year that I kind of forget smoking. It doesn't lurk in my mind the way excessive drinking does. It doesn't creep up on me at night and tug at my sleeve. I wish I had done it sooner and hope I quit before much damage was done. My taste buds have roared back with a vengeance and it is partly why I have gotten so into craft beer. I can actually detect the subtle and not so subtle flavours the brewers are trying to impart in the beers and it is wonderful.
If you smoke, I want you to know you can quit. But don't beat yourself up, hate the habit. Look around at all the loving and wonderful people in your life and think about how much you would miss them if you leave. Think of the money you can save and what you can do with it. I use it to pay bills on time, but if your good with money, maybe you can save up and take a trip. Whatever your motivation, just do it. Your body will thank you and so will your wallet.


  1. Congratulations on your victory over cigarettes. I too fought the battle and finally, thankfully won in 2009.

    1. Thank you, I am so glad you beat the demon weed too!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.