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Attempting to Quit

Jimmy has been smoking since he was 15 and his wife has been smoking since she was 12. Between them they have smoked for 64 years and as they try to kick the habit, they are going to share their journey with you.

Both know that it will be a tough habit to break, there will be ups and downs and the potential for relapseis always lurking. This blog is to help those who think they might want to quit and those who think that sometimes wanting to quit really is easier said than done.

Back-again, and again.

I was doing fine-really was. Then the wife found a pack of cigarettes in her desk-that was the reason we started up again.

But this time, the Mrs. go sick and I pointed out to her that she was starting to sound like my own mother (1 1/2 pack a day smoker) at about the same age.

I guess there's a point when all the abuse you put your body through in your 20's and 30's catches up to you and your 40's teach you about your own mortality. First those you looked to your whole life start dying off, then some of your friends start dying from sudden heart attacks, are diagnosed with cancer, people your own age are in really responsible jobs then the next thing you know, someone YOUNGER than yourself is named as a Vice-President running mate.

You start to understand that your generation is starting to run things and we may (or may not) have a clue what to do.

So anyway, the wife get's a "coughing fit" and she hacked and hacked for about 4 or five minutes, her face turned red, then purple and when it was over, she was bent over trying to catch her breath and I said, "You sound just like my mother use to sound." She turned a little white at that comment and I explained a little more in-detail about my mothers long, slow, agonizing, downward death spiral until she finally left us in May or 2004. I'm convinced that had Mom been able to kick the habit years ago, she might still have lived another 5 or 10 years in reasonably good health. She had just about every cardiopulmonary problem you can name, all of them smoking related and her last days on this rock were pretty miserable.

My wife said she was ready to quit-so we're trying again. I have those nicotine lozenges that taste like castor oil covered in mint but I think I'm finally learning how to control the cravings, we'll just have to wait and see what shakes out with the wife, can she stand it?

Hopefully since we're both out of cigarettes tonight, if we got to sleep and get a good nights rest and get up in the morning with no cigarettes in the house, the ash trays are gone and the lighters put up, we will simply have another go at kicking this nasty habit. The wife has a new medication that is going to cost us $125.00 per month and I reasoned with her that if we kicked the habit, we'd be able to buy the medication with no problem and still have $275.00 per month left over.

The economics of the problem speak for themself.

 

Wish us luck-again.

 

P.S., thanks for your continued support as I try to relate the experiences of trying to become an ex-smoker. The encouragement is nice to hear...

The Funny Things You Hear

When you start down a path of trying to quit, you hear a lot of funny stuff. Some of it is encouraging, some of it is "preachy," some is inane while other stuff is downright funny. You have to stop and ask yourself, "Did they really just say that?"

My personal favorite of late is, "Oh it's so wonderful that you're quitting smoking-and you'll notice that food tastes SO MUCH BETTER once you've quit."

Uhh look, I'm a 340 lb. FAT MAN, I'm not "chunky" or "big boned" I'm simply fat-and I'm okay with that. So with that being the case, I think it's fair to say that I'm pretty happy with the way food tastes NOW, so I'm not all that concerend with how it's going to taste after I've quit smoking...

 

I'm quite sure I'll like it just as much.

The Simple Joys - Like BREATHING

I noticed something different this morning (It's 04:47 at this moment and I just got out of bed). The act of breathing doesn't really hurt.

I don't know if this is something immediate or, if it is something related to having been ill recently, but in years past the act of breathing is something that came with it's own set of problems, not the least of which included a slight burning sensation after waking up and getting going in the mornings.

Of course, the "Viper of Habit" was there waiting for me as soon as I walked into the office. My first thought was as I looked at my desk was, "Where are my cigarettes?" and then noticing that the ashtray was missing I remembered-"I'm a recent non-smoker" so no, those things wouldn't be there at all, would they?

And I'm still diggin' not having cigarette ashes all over everything!

But yes, the "Viper of Habit" is something that is a constant companion these days-it waits in the most unlikely places and when at the moments in my life where before I would take an opportunity to light up, that's when those little switches in the brain start firing because they're expecting the nicotine to be forthcoming. That's the vipers bite and this is the very moment when you must decide if you're going to continue down the path you're on or, turn away and go get a pack of cigarettes. You know, your mouth actually waters like Pavlov's dogs when you think about having a cigarette in anticipation of that initial rush of nicotine from the first cigarette. It's like coating your lungs and you can start functioning again once you have your "fix."

My God, do I sound like a drug addict in therapy or what?

Now, last night was no picnic because as before, the missus and I were working on another PowerPoint presentation for her paralegal class and as always, we got into it over trying to teach her how to use PowerPoint. We both wanted a cigarette, we were both frustrated with each other and these things happen-you're misdirecting your frustration. She stormed out of the house and went to eat dinner and I simply contented myself to watch a movie on my computer. I didn't know if she would give in and purchase a pack of cigarettes, but as frustrated as I was with her recalcitrance, I wasn't giving in-but if she did buy a pack of smokes, I was wondering if I would join her or, make her go outside the house o smoke them? I'll admit the idea of having a smoke with her had it's appeal, but the idea of taking a breath this morning without the burning sensation that has accompanied that simple act for the past ten years has it's appeal, too.

You know, I have often rationalized that yes, smoking does "take years off your life" but as I have often said, it's only taking the crappy ones at the end but as I enter my 47th year on this rock, I'm starting to grow fond of the idea or not being hooked up to some sort of breathing machine or having a hole cut into my neck because I chose to indulge in smoking. I watched my own mother die that way and let me tell you, it's a sad statement when your own mothers death finally comes and you've had time to prepare because you've watched her decline for so long and the feeling that you have isn't so much grief-you've already worked yourself through that-what you feel is relief because her suffering is finally over. I don't know how I'll meet my end but I know that of all the possible ways to buy the farm, that's one of those that holds the least appeal for me.

So I think that for now, I'll simply welcome the Viper of Habit's bite and learn to enjoy the sensation of wanting a cigarette-what helps me along is the picture I snapped my my missus at the Doctors office with that breathing tube in her mouth, puffing away on the medication that was helping her breath-and knowing that I don't want that for her or myself.

And those cigarette ashes everywhere is something I'll never miss.

Oh Yea, I be Jonesen

If you look up the term "Jonesen" in the urban dictionary, you will see it is another term for having withdrawal symptoms-I'm having them today but, I'm also keeping them at bay a lot better than I thought possible-it's just the habit that is proving hard to break and when you couple that with the nicotine withdrawal, no wonder so many people try to quit and can't.

I sat down at my computer this morning-no lighter, no morning cigarette and no ashes all over the desk or computer. My mind is use to reaching for that first cigarette much like the certain way only you know how to jiggle a car key to get it to work and then the nicotine craving hits you.

I got in my car to run an errand and as soon as the car was moving, I reached for the pocket I always keep my cigarettes in to light up and they along with the calming effect the nicotine has on the stress wasn't there-the nicotine craving returned.

I had a chance to clean out my car a little bit today and found an empty pack of cigarettes-I shook them hoping that there wasn't one left because there was a better than even chance that I might rationalize "well, just ONE won't hurt."

ONE is how you get started all over again-been there, done that. Thankfully, there wasn't one there so the pack got crushed, which is the internationally accepted sign to other smokers that there are no cigarettes in this pack, and threw it away.

Of course, I passed several places where all I would have had to do was get out of the car, walk inside and say, "Marlboro Reds in a box" and after handing over nearly $6.00, I could have easily had them. That thought makes me have another nicotine craving which is tapping me on the shoulder as I write this but I must admit, I'm diggin' the no cigarette ashes all over everything deal I've got going on now.

Another aspect of this journey is how you're treated by smokers and non-smokers alike. Your still-smoking friends look at you like you just told them you're moving away to a neighborhood they can't visit but your non-smoking friends, and I believe I have said this before, treat you like you've just joined their side and are happy to have you with them. It's kind of like when you decide to finally grow up, become responsible and quit hanging out with your druggie-friends. Your responsible friends are glad you finally started doing the right thing, your druggie-friends will ALWAYS be your druggie friends and may one day follow your lead, and maybe not.

But as I'm looking around at my desk and my missus's desk, I'm not seeing cigarette ashes scattered everywhere-and since we don't have maid service here, this is something that I can really get use to-not cleaning up those insidious cigarette ashes.

With regard to the nicotine cravings-that one I'm just going to have to stare-down and believe that I'm a stronger person than this addiction. It's time, I'm ready and frankly, I'm getting sick of having to go outside beside the dumpster to have a cigarette.

We're going to try this-again

Hello 2012.

Let me tell you what happened last time-

My wife and I were doing really well until one afternoon, she called me as I was on my way home and sounded desperate-"Please bring me a pack of cigarettes, I'm nickin' (Nicotine Withdrawal) real bad!" That was all it took-I got her two packs and myself a couple of packs, I got home, we lit up and enjoyed a nice chain smoke.

That's how it's been for the past several months until last week. My wife became symptomatic on Wednesday evening, I became symptomatic on Thursday morning and by the time I got off of work at 9pm, I was feeling a wreck-which really wasn't appealing because that was the exact moment I started my vacation. We both had come down with a horrible case of bronchitis, so off to the Doctor with us on Friday afternoon.

We got a prescription for some God-awful horse-pills that started helping me, but didn't do anything for the missus. She was back on Monday and again on Tuesday having to take breathing treatments with a nebulizer that eventually helped open her breathing passages-and as I looked at her puffing away on that thing, my mind flashed back to the slow, agonizing death my mother endured from COPD and a host of other breathing-related conditions-all because of her pack-a-day habit.

Of course, I continued to smoke, outside and I must admit, I was doing a little soul-searching between those coughing fits that turned my face purple and made the world spin 'round and 'round. The missus said she was fine without cigarettes anymore since she hadn't had one in over a week and after what she'd just been through, she had no inclination to start up again. Sure, she still wants one and I'll admit, so do I, but the misery that was visited on us during what should have been the best time of the year got our attention.

So today, I noticed that I was down to my last four and I wouldn't be going out to buy anymore-I will try this again and as many times as necessary until I can finally say I've beat this awful habit. I turned my attention and energy into assaulting the housework that had been demanding the attention of someone. The missus continued on her school work today since next week, she begins her LAST CLASS required to get her Bachelors Degree in Paralegal Studies and I attacked the housework she didn't have time to attend with a will-and got all of it and a little more done.

In all honesty, I must say that I rather like NOT having ashes all over my computer and my desk and I like not having an ashtray that one of my cats can knock over sending ashes and cigarette butts flying in all directions. And I also like the fact that we should realize a savings of $98.00 each and every week from NOT buying cigarettes. Between the two of us, that's over $4700.00 a year we're keeping for ourselves and that's downright appealing.

So, we're going to try, again, to finally kick this habit-it won't be easy but I think this time, we're ready....

 

I'll keep in touch.

Relapse

I determined to start over-Both the wife and I had run out of the "last" smokes we had and were determined to make another go of it.

Did I happen to mention that nicotine is as addictive as heroine?

Last Sunday, the Mrs. asked me to put together a powerpoint presentation for a project she had going-all I had to do was sit down with the main points, get the colors and the font-size right and get the right pictures for the presentation.

No problem, right?

When I sat down to focus on the task at hand, it was like trying to focus on something with a busted headlight-I just couldn't seem to think straight. I would start, then start over. I would try to get the text right and I couldn't figure out where the best place, color, font-type, nothing. It was like my brain had stopped working.

Finally after about a half hour of sheer frustration, I got up from my desk, got in my car and went to get a pack of cigarettes.

Once I had them, came back, sat down at my computer and lit one, everything was crystal-clear, I knew exactly what I had to do and got it accomplished in no time-the Mrs. even got high praise for the powerpoint presentation (Which she took all the credit for-but if I ever try to tell you that great fried chicken was my work, it'll be a lie).

Does stopping yourself from inhaling this poison mean you have to stop functioning as a human? It's really funny to me when those non-smokers who have never picked up the habit say, "Oh, you should just quit!"

 

Yea, okay sunshine-I'm trying but I'll tell you, trying to get this monkey off your back is no easy trick. Maybe I'll make an appointment to see my Doctor, I hear-tell that there's an anti-depressant that you can take that helps and it doesn't make you crazy like I hear Chantrex does-as a commercial driver, Chantrex is a no-no.

I don't think I'm giving up, just giving in for now. We're going to keep trying-it's just "what to do with your hands" that I think keeps bringing us back.

If they'd only stop asking.....

Last Saturday, I was doing fine. I was doing my volunteer thing when the phone rang-and the Mrs. was having issues, big ones. She asked that I bring home a pack of cigarettes because she was "nickin' real bad." Never heard that one before.

So after several days without a smoke like I told her, "You jump, I jump." It's okay, I've enjoyed many setbacks in my life.

The nicotine lozenge helps but it gives me a nasty after-taste and the nicotine gum seems to work a little better, but the trick is controlling the automatic urge to reach for a cigarette during the morning commute, while I'm on the computer, when I don't have anything else to do and of course, whenever someone asks "How are you doing with your smoking?"

Well, I was doing fine until you said something to remind me how much I miss having a cigarette and now I'd like to have one even more.

God bless these hapless souls who are only trying to make conversation or see how the effort to quit is coming along, but what they don't seem to understand that while you're trying to put the idea of smoking out of your own mind, the questions they ask bring it right back to the front of your brain-and you start wanting a cigarette more than anything.

It has been said that a mind is a terriable thing to waste-it's also a pretty difficult thing to control because the mind seems to have a mind of it's own. I call it the "other 80%", let me explain this one:

It has been guesstimated that you only use 20% of your brain, so there's 80% left that has pretty much notthing to do and that can be dangerous. I use to deal with this all of the time when I was driving cross-country. As you're rolling along, you're only using by my estimation about 5% of your brain to aim the truck down the highway, so the rest of your brain decides to hop up in the passenger seat and says "I'm bored!" only to begin painting the most horriffic "what if's" you could image.

"Hey, are we going to pass that RV? Wow, can you imagine what would happen if they pulled into our lane, we hit them and those propane tanks exploded? Wow, we'd burn to death right here!"

Or, "Hey, can you imagine what'd happen if that car that passed us were to get in our lane and slam on their brakes? We'd never have a chance of stopping and those baby seats in the back of the car would be stuck under our bumper!"

Will you please shut up?!

"Hey, I'm just sayin', that could happen!"

So working to keep the 20% of my brain that I do have control over is hard enough, when you throw in the other 80% that pretty much does what it wants, add the addiction to nicotine and the power of suggestion from well-meaning people who remind you of smoking when you're trying to forget, you'll see it's a pretty difficult proposition to "just quit smoking."

 

In fact, Miss Scarlett was doing okay until I decided to read this to her, now we're right back to where we were last Saturday....

Well, that wasn't SO bad....

First day went pretty okay-the biggest annoyance was when I got home and Sneakers (the cat) decided that she had to impose herself between my and the computer.

It's the "habit" that's hard to break.

I'd get up in the morning, clear my head a little, pull out a cigarette, light it with my Zippo and as I hear the tobacco burning, I would snap the lighter shut and place it on the pack.

On the way to work, I'd light one up heading up Great Neck Road or, after turning onto Laskin, depending on which way we were going that day.

Same was true after picking up the truck to head to work, it was just something we did-almost like marking time.

The nicotine lozenges help a lot, but there's still that "edge" about things. Miss Scarlett and I have coughed a lot today, more than usual-don't know what that's all about and we both were more tired than usual even though we went to bed quite early last night and slept all the way through.

But when we feel the "urge", for me at least it is as though I have to stop and remind myself that I'm not supposed to be doing that anymore.

Amazingly enough, Miss Scarlett had a pretty good day-I think it was that instant "flash-support-mob" that I told you about in another post, but now that we're home, she's thinking about giving in. I told her, "you jump, I jump, too."

Hopefully we'll be getting out of the house soon and going out-that'll take her mind off of it-I hope.

With me, there's still that edge-waiting for the want to go away.

Day None

I've given most of the people I'm near on a day-to-day basis fair warning: The Missus and I are going to try and quit smoking. This has led to congratulations and words of encouragement. Even the young lady at the Kroger Pharmacy congratulated me on making the decision to quit-my God, I feel as though I'm switching sides in a war.

My still-smoking-after-I-try-to-quit friends are pretty cool with it, too. It is as though they know they're fighting a losing battle and wish me well. Of course, Miss Scarlett works in an office full of women-members of our species that seem to form "flash-support-mobs" whenever "one of the girls" decides to do something significant with their lives, have a baby, get married, get divorced, quitting smoking. "We're going to support you" is the message and "you're doing the right thing" is just about all she hears.

Guys have it slightly different. When you share the news that you're going to try (again) to quit, a small chuckle, a motion of the head and a small roll of the eyes that says, "Yea, go right ahead, good luck." The cynicism just fills the air like the smoke of one of my dwindling supply of cigarettes. Guys are a little too honest with each other and may as well say, "Yea, you'll be back inside of a week!" Guys don't necessarily want an instant "support group", all we want is to get through the hard part first, as quickly as possible and for God's sake, don't remind us at every turn that "it's a tough habit to break."

We know exactly when we're trying to quit because we really have to work hard to suppress the urge to reach out and choke someone.

BELIEVE ME WHEN I TELL YOU, NICOTINE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS REALLY ARE THAT BAD.

Take for example the every-day annoyance of visiting a bank. The non-smoker or the smoker who will light up as soon as they walk out will be in a hurry and notice two tellers ignoring the growing line of people as they chat away about "the he said an den she said" drivel that costs the U.S. economy BILLIONS in lost production. These poor souls will simply endure, perhaps roll their eyes and wait their turn.

The person who is trying to quit and encounters the same situation will probably say something to the meandering employees to the effect of, "Hey, are we in a bank or the DMV?" Trying to quit do make you snappy.

So back to the Kroger store.

I asked the Pharmacist which smoking cessation product I should try and after she congratulated me again for wanting to quit, she asked me how much I smoke a day-about a pack or so. She asked me how long is was after I got up in the morning until I had my first cigarette and I responded with, as soon as the coffee is ready and we've got a self-starting coffee maker. She asked me how bad are my withdrawel symptoms when I'm not able to smoke for a long period of time and I replied, "it's usually a quick jump from holding my own to homocidal rage." So she reccommended the higher dosage losenges. I got a box of nicotine gum to try out and it seemed to work pretty well on a "test run" this afternoon. Let me tell you what, these products aren't cheap but in retrospect, they ARE a lot cheaper than two cartons of cigarettes each and every week.

Apparently, smoking cigarettes is just like any other drug addiction in that it dumps dopeamine into the brain somehow and that gives you the feeling of being relaxed-it also passes the time and gives your hands something to do.

What really annoys me about being a smoker is, the ever-present "bums." Those who can't afford to buy their own, so they "bum" them off of others. In recent years, I've gotten a little more than cross with those who prefer the "O.P." brand of cigarettes-O.P.= Other Peoples

Miss Scarlett's son, Copernicus is such a "bum." After Christmas, I tasked him with cleaning fry-pots and after about the 5th "bum", I finally looked at him and said, "That's a mighty expensive habit for someone who doesn't even have a frigging' JOB." It's an unspoken rule among smokers that if you're asked, you should let someone "bum" one off of you because one day, the tables might be turned.

Another rule is, smokers of menthol cigarettes can bum off of non-menthol smokers, but non-menthol smokers usually try to steer away from menthol cigarettes unless you're really desperate. As a non-menthol smoker, it's a lot like smoking a cough drop-a really BAD cough drop.

But it gives you that kick of nicotine, so when you're desperate enough, you suck it up (pardon the pun) and endure.

 

Hacking your lungs up

Just about every morning, Miss Scarlett and I spend the first few minutes of our day puffing on a cigarette, drawing in nicotine, and coughing our lungs up. It's painful, it feels to me like you're breathing in dry ice vapor and every morning, you just feel misearble.

That's what smoking does for you. It's really a tough reality to ask "what am I doing to myself?" when you feel better after you cough yourself senseless. Exhert yourself, cough your lungs up. Climb the steps, feel like you ran a marathon, carry in groceries, stop, take a smoke-break.

You know, it's amazing how many activities I either avoid or have to recover from because of a decades-long smoking habit.

So as I look at my last few cigarettes in the pack, I ask myself "is this something I really want to do?"

Yes, it is. It's going to be a long, hard, uphill pull but I'm hopeful that once we make it past the hard part, the rest will be easier and our bodies will start to heal themselves after the abuse we inflicted on ourselves for so many years.

Our Journey Begins

I started smoking at an unusual time in my life-I was being treated for Cancer at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland at the age of 15. Sitting around letting Doctors poison your body with all manner of cancer-fighting drugs was bad enough, but the boredom or waiting for your body to get better leads to making some decisions that aren’t in your best interest.

My father sold cigarettes at his gas station and I had a pack stuffed away in the back of a drawer and would spend my time in the men’s room smoking a Marlboro red. Until one day my Aunt Millie made some flippant comment about “Jimmy running to the bathroom to smoke” let me know that my “secret” wasn’t so secret after all and the small card I found tucked in the cellophane of the pack one day confirmed it, “Jim, haven’t you had enough problems without these? Mom” The next person in the precession was my father that asked me, “Are you smoking?” and I figured since Aunt Millie knew, mom obviously knew and now here was “the dad” asking me, what’s the point of lying? I told him that it was true and he said, “Well, I’m real disappointed, I wish you’d quit but I can’t make you.” That began my career (I guess you’d call it that) as a “legal” smoker and Marlboro has been “my” brand most of my life. Some of you might not believe me when I tell you that there once was a time when not only could you smoke in public, but you could smoke in planes, trains, taxicabs, even in hospitals! Sure, they had us smokers confined to the back of the plane, but we’re still waiting on our “Rosa Parks” to stand up and say “no more-I’ve gone as far as I’m going to let you push me.” Through the 80’s, I began to see more “NO SMOKING” signs pop up, smoking was pushed back and then entirely off of airliners then the ban started in restaurants, hotels and even in the workplace. I’ve sworn that I’d quit smoking when cigarettes hit $1.00 a pack, $1.50 a pack, $2.00 a pack, $3.00 a pack but have in recent years out of sheer desperation paid New Jersey, “The garbage state” $6.00 for a pack of smokes. They didn’t do a thing to urge my need to smoke but certainly showed me an opportunity to exploit a black market for cigarettes. I could buy a carton of Marlboros in Virginia for $22.00, have them in New Jersey that afternoon and sold for twice that much. Let’s just say that my grandfather ran booze during prohibition for a very famous American family whose name rhymes with “Mennity” to make it through the depression-and his family never went without because he was willing to take a chance that he knew the local waterways in Cape Cod better than any Federal agent.

They never caught gramps.

I get a kick out of Rush Limbaugh and other pro-business types who say “There’s no evidence that second-hand smoke is dangerous or addictive” and that makes a lot of sense, I don’t know anyone who is addicted to second-hand smoke, but I can’t help but wonder what this brown stuff is on my computer monitor. I know that it’s nicotine, from either a burning cigarette nearby or, blown directly from my own lungs and sticking to everything. Although I have no factual evidence to tell you that it’s harmful or addictive, you don’t have to be a complete idiot not to know it can’t be good for you. I also get quite a laugh out of these vitriolic non-smokers who lash out at smokers every opportunity they have. My God, you’d think a smoker just beat a kitten to death with a puppy to hear them tell it and the truth of the matter is, I think they just enjoy having someone who engages in a still-legal habit that they can attack, humiliate and otherwise feel superior to. They rarely deal in those pesky things called facts, but they do spew a lot of venom about how harmful second-hand smoke is to them and how they hate smelling it, hate having it on their clothes, in their car, their home, on and on and on. At the end of the day, they don’t really give any thought to what cigarettes might be doing to you, the smoker, they’re only interested in themselves and this priority seems to rule their sorry little lives. Sure, it’s an annoyance, but how much you suffer from it is directly proportional to how much you whine about it, so please, save your breath so you can hold it when you go by us smokers outside the bar.

Another thing to point out is, I dare say that as a smoker, I have just a small taste of the kind of discrimination that minorities must have felt at one point in our nations history. I’ve been excluded from just about everywhere and looked at with everything from mild contempt to downright disgust when I’m outside, in the elements trying to enjoy a cigarette break. I’m starting to wonder if smokers will ever be afforded the appreciation that comes with someone who is paying a lot in taxes to enjoy a legal product, you’d think that someone might stop to thank me for spending the money on cigarette taxes that pay for things like State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to provide health insurance for underprivlidged children that I had no part in making, but instead I’m slapped with more taxes, more scorn and I’m stuck with an addiction that is pretty hard to break.

 

It IS an addiction.

For those of you who have never smoked, let me try to give you an idea of what it’s like to be addicted to nicotine; Imagine that you’re holding your hand over your nose and mouth so you can’t breathe. As the minutes begin to feel like hours, imagine that the most annoying person you know is right up in your face blathering on at the top of their lungs about how you need to do this, you need to do that, smoking is bad for you, you’ll die sooner, you’re going to get cancer, blah, blah, blah. This is what it feels like when your brain is telling you that you need a cigarette. Now imagine the same scenario where you’re suffocating and being yelled at and all of a sudden, the hand comes off your nose/mouth and you find it clamped across the windpipe of the person annoying you, shutting them up. That’s the feeling you get when you finally are able to light that cigarette and draw the smoke into your lungs-not healthy, but certainly therapeutic. According to the American Heart Association, Nicotine is a powerful drug and it’s a very hard addiction to break. I certainly wish I was on the receiving end of the sympathy that’s afforded to those addicted to heroin, cocaine or alcohol. But alas, I’m a cigarette smoker and these days, hating me is not only PC, it’s downright cool and some would even say it’s not just tolerated, it’s encouraged. Now, I know and have known for years that smoking wasn’t good for me, but as the years pass and age becomes a consideration it is nearly impossible to ignore the deleterious effects that I know smoking cigarettes has had-I don’t need a scientific study to know what’s happening to me. I’m shorter of breath, I cough like a son of a gun when I exert myself and its getting harder and harder to take in a “full” lung of air all of the time. But I think that part of my resistance to finally quitting was more a matter of pride-I didn’t want to take a chance of becoming anything like these cry-baby non-smokers who in the attempt to show you the error of your ways, end up showing their backside. I have nothing but contempt for these people. I am also concerne about the “Stevie Ray Vaughn” effect doing something positive for you seems to have. For those of you who might not remember, Stevie Ray Vaughn was a musician who decided to get his act together, quit the booze, the drugs and all of the other demons that held him back-then a helicopter in which he was riding flew into the side of a hill. There is also The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, he too started putting the bad stuff down and the next thing you know, he’s dead, too. It worried me to know that as soon as these guys started trying to do what was best for their health, they died almost immediately. Wouldn’t it be a crying shame to finally kick the habit and a year later, you’re diagnosed with cancer. You put yourself through a hell-on-earth to finally kick the habit only to die anyway.

Free to smoke, taxed to death.

 

Currently, the state of Virginia isn’t too bad about cigarette taxes, but occasionally I will travel “over the line” to North Carolina to commit an act of tax evasion. I can buy two cartons down there for $76.00 versus $96.00 in Virginia. Sorry, I love my native state but I’m not going to cough up (pardon the pun) an extra $20.00 for the privilege of buying cigarettes in Virginia or, Virginia Beach. I personally don’t care what the taxes are slated for or, which social ill our lawmakers have decided to solve at my expense. If I can get away with buying cigarettes cheaper by driving a few extra miles, I’ll do it. All I can tell any revenue agent is “catch me if you can.” My attitude is you can have part of something or, all of nothing. If you want me to pay a reasonable tax on a still-legal product, I’m cool with that. But if you want to start balancing the entire state budget on my back or expect me to pay more because someone produced a child they can’t afford the expense of raising you’ll just have to look somewhere else for a cash cow. Here’s a novel idea-why not hold PARENTS responsible for the welfare and provisions of their own children?

A matter of economics.

I pointed this out to Miss Scarlett the last time I returned home from North Carolina-I had saved $20.00 on our weekly purchase of cigarettes. Whoopee! That’s when the numbers finally “clicked”-we have faithfully been spending nearly $100.00 per week between the both of us on just cigarettes. That’s $400.00 a month (half a house payment), $1200.00 per quarter (a new computer for Miss Scarlett) or, $4,800.00 per year which is a NICE vacation to Jamaica. With as much trouble as the “Hope and Change” economy has been giving Miss Scarlett and I it’s hard to rationalize parting with nearly $5000.00 per year on tobacco-a product that literally goes “up in smoke.”  There are so many other things I could do with that money instead of handing it over to Phillip-Morris and their partners, the Federal, State and Local governments under which we live.

 

The Willingness to Try

 

Both Miss Scarlett and I knew it would be pointless for either of us to try and quit if the other didn’t try also. Trying to kick the habit with your spouse not four feet from you puffing away is an exercise in futility. There is nicotine in second-hand smoke and there is the smell that is quite attractive to someone trying to quit, so if Scarlett was sitting there smoking, there wasn’t any way possible to be successful. The reverse was true for her, too. We both like to smoke, we’ve been doing it all of our adult lives and we both knew that without the help of the other, this would be just another attempt. Our Journey Begins Here So Miss Scarlett and I will be relating our experiences about our attempt to quit smoking here. I just can’t imagine what this will include: Will we be writing about how much better we feel, how much better food tastes or, will we be talking about how appealing the thought of choking each other as the nicotine withdrawal hits us. It’s also going to be tough to get through the day without taking our regular “smoke” breaks or stopping ourselves from reaching for a pack of smokes after a meal, while we’re working on the computer or, writing this blog. So wish us luck, it’s going to be a tough, uphill assault on a habit that anyone who has ever done it knows is a hard habit to break-but we’re going to try.

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