Andy Griffith never said it would be this way
by Cris Ritchie Editor
To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know because Ive done it a thousand times. Mark Twain
I have a confession to make: Im a smoker, and have been for the past 12 years. After a good meal, or during a drive, theres not much else better to me than to sit back and enjoy the smokey, chemical packed goodness of not-at-all natural, modern American tobacco. Thats pretty innocuous, right? I mean, after all, Andy Griffith used to do the very same thing after one of Aunt Beas big suppers. Cigarette smoking is as American as baseball, and everyones doing it. So whys it so bad for me?
Turns out theres several reasons that I dont need to get into here because, really, we all know about the dangers of cigarette smoking. Yet we still do it. A lot. But I, for one, have now taken it upon myself to do something about it. I began the cold turkey thing on June 6. Today is June 16, so this is my 10 day anniversary without a smoke.
In these past 10 days, Ive been looking back quite often to that innocent day in 1998 when I smoked my very first cigarette. I remember it vividly, and moreover I remember what started this whole mess for me. It was a girl, of course. What else could it have been? Not that it was her fault, certainly, but she was the inspiration, so to speak. She smoked, so I thought I needed an in with her, and I suppose I thought if I smoked too then I have that conversation starter I never had before. An ice breaker, if you will. Long story short: I didnt get the girl, but I did get an addiction to nicotine. Serves me right.
I began my smoking career with straight Marlboros which we called reds because of the red packaging for two dollars a pack in 1998. It wasnt long before I downgraded to Marlboro Lights. They seemed easier to smoke and didnt hurt my neck as much going down into the lungs. That should have been an indicator right there that I didnt need to smoke. Anything you do that causes physical discomfort probably isnt something you should be doing regularly. I feel that way about exercise, too.
But then the price per pack kept creeping up, and now its hovering around five dollars a pack. For a guy who smoked a pack a day for 12 years, that was becoming a hefty burden on the wallet. Since quitting, Ive saved $47 in just 10 days. For an entire year, if I make it that long, thats more than $1,700 a year. Thats a tank of gas, at least. And over 10 years, thats like $17,000! Thats more money than I made my whole first year out of college.
Over the past 12 years, Ive had my fair share of criticism from family members on the benefits of not smoking. Considering that no one in my immediate family smokes, and two of whom are in the healthcare industry, I was sort of a glutton for punishment when it came to being the smoker in the family. Not once in that 12 years did I purposely smoke in front of them, but that criticism was well meant, and well placed, and Im appreciative of it.
And I have to admit that in the past 10 days Ive felt a lot better than before. Perhaps the major thing, other than the health issue, is the odor issue. When you smoke, you get used to the smell of tobacco smoke and dont realize how bad it really smells. At least I didnt. In these past 10 days, Ive really figured out how malodorous I must have been to the nonsmokers out there. Hopefully, that parts gone as well.
The strangest thing about this whole quitting smoking, though, is that even after 10 days without a cigarette Ive never wanted one more. I would really love to have a cigarette right now. And I mean love to have one. Right now. I can picture myself at this moment on the porch in Mayberry with old Andy, smoking away and listening to him play Crawdad Hole on the guitar while Aunt Bea knits a sweater and little Opey is playing with a toy truck. Its a testament as to how addictive these cigarettes really are, that days after the fact its still hard to shake the romanticism of cigarette smoking, even when theres nothing really romantic about them at all.
Im determined to quit, though, and I think this time I may very well have the great nicotine monster licked. Heres to hoping.
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