Viewpoint: Smoking, a Love Story

By on November 9, 2013

I have smoked about a pack to pack and a half a day since I was 17. I recently turned 23, and with that, decided to get serious about quitting smoking. The journey has been less than pleasant both personally and for other people around me.

I have tried just about every method to quit smoking over the years; gum, lozenges, patches, prescriptions… Turns out that the first crucial element to quitting smoking is quitting smoking. I have only recently realized this. I have had weak moments, but on average I can honestly call myself a non – smoker now. I do not get cranky looking for a pack in the morning. I can breathe easier. I can exercise in way that I could not for years. I imagine that my personage smells better and overall, I feel “cleaner”. I have more disposable income. There is no apparent downside to not smoking.

I do not want to defend smoking, but with the fall in full swing, I miss it. I miss the feeling of lighting up in a way I would not have expected. Seeing the packs of Marlboro behind the counter of a gas station still induces longing. There is still something missing in my life, a void that I filled with cigarettes.

This week, I have been trying to discover what makes smokers smoke, trying to figure out why the sound of steel on flint still calls my attention. I think that the reason I smoked (and by extension why so many others smoke) has less to do with nicotine and more to do with the person.

Many people will smoke casually for some period in high school or college. I am not calling this demographic smokers. For the most part, issues of cost, lung inflammation, or plain good sense causes this demographic to quit smoking. By smokers, I am talking about the people who, in spite of all the negative consequences will continue to smoke. I was once of this demographic. In many ways I still am.

What I liked most about smoking, was that it gave me something to do with my hands. Being a somewhat jittery person, this was a real plus in certain social situations. Smoking gave an order and rhythm to my day. Studying was broken up by smoke breaks, social situations timed by my habit, meals ended and days started all to the sound of the flint on steel and the rising of smoke. I miss that part of a smoking habit.

Another benefit I noticed while smoking, was that I was free to take a 5 minute break, whenever. For someone with a naturally introverted personality, I miss being able to do this. Finally, smoking provided a novel social mechanism that only a smoker can fully appreciate.

With all of that said, I still am happy not to be smoking.

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