Posted by: martinworster | February 4, 2008

88. QUIT SMOKING

Nobody likes a quitter!

 

Finally I’ve managed to quit the habit. Apart from two drunken slip ups, I haven’t smoked for a few months now. I haven’t really found it that difficult. After so many years of thinking everytime I lit up that I must stop, the cumulative mental erosion of this thought finally wore me down. I used to visualise my lungs. Or my heart. Or my clogged arteries. I am 35 – I had been smoking since I was 15 – that’s twenty years. Admittedly, the last few years the habit was greatly reduced, a handful of snouts a day. But there were years of smoking a pack a day. I remember in the early 90s raving going out and smoking two packs or more a night. I was the original Tupac. I used to return and my fingers were glow in the dark yellow from the nicotine stains.

It is a no brainer. I know now I’ve stopped I will live longer, breathe easily, not catch as many colds, shake them off quicker when I do, taste things, smell better and generally be a better off human. But I still miss it. Drinking and smoking. One with a coffee in the mornings. One after a long day snowboarding. Hmm. But I won’t succumb, I really have cracked it.

I won’t turn into a sanctomonious ex-smoker, snearing and coughing at the vaguest whiff of passive smoke. I think it’s a real shame they banned it in the UK (and now – the horrors – France, what next Spain?). I don’t like governments encroaching on invidual liberties. If a bar or any establishment wants to cater to the smoker then they should have the freedom to do so. Non-smokers to not have to go there. It seems that more and more civil liberties are eroding as the state advances and encroaches. Although I have to admit returning from nights out minus the whiff of stale tobacco is a bonus, although a bar doesn’t feel like a bar to me with no smoke. A nightclub isn’t a nightclub without plumes of blue smoke. In California I live in the original home of no smoking. But it seems like smokers are overly victimised. I don’t know the exact figures, but many people in this country die from heart diseases and other complications resulting from unhealthy diets. I don’t see junk food coming with health warnings? It would be great if they banned McDonalds, Burger King and the rest.

There was something philosophical about smoking. I – probably incorrectly – always felt that it added a value to my experience.  A sunset felt more real, more meaningful if observed whilst puffing on a Marlborough Light. It felt like I had really earnt the end of a day, spent quietly reflecting it in shards of whispy blue smoke. I like to call it the Marlborough Man moment – experiences with a cigarette are somehow deeper, more vivid – exactly like the cowboy on horseback with a smoke in hand (who later, allegedly, died from lung cancer).

I also liked the complicit comraderie that exists between smokers. The mutual recognition of a fellow addict. The ‘we’re in this together and we’ll probably be dieing earlier because of it’ slap on the back, unspoken bond of smokers. I always found smokers more interesting. Creative. Funny. Aware of mortality. Probably weaker willed. It says something about the personality and makeup of someone who knows his habit will kill them but continues. Now that’s rock and roll.

But now I am a non-smoker. I will probably live longer because of it. I guess that’s a good thing.

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