I Stopped Smoking

“They can because they think they can.”
– Virgil

I can’t completely say I quit smoking because the truth is, I don’t know that I quit. To borrow a saying from the 12 Step posse, I can only say I am not smoking today.

The most frequent thing said to me when I mention that I have stopped is not “Good for you!” it’s been “Why now?” Uhh, I suppose, first and foremost, because smoking is bad for you. We can certainly add that it is expensive. I suppose you can also throw in the fact that society views you as some sort of leper.

When I lived in San Francisco, I would be outside smoking and people would circumvent me as though I were evil incarnate. One might think that would have a negative effect on me but it didn’t. It just made me want to run up next to them and make sure my Marlboro exhales wafted in their direction. But being a smoker, I didn’t have the lung capacity.

I lived in Florida for a little over a year and quit while I was there. Even though cigarettes were infinitely cheaper in the sunshine state, it’s too damn hot there to smoke. If you went outside to smoke you’d inhale so much humidity it made cigarette smoke redundant.

When I moved back to New York City ten years ago, I took up smoking again. You see New Yorkers, its citizens, for the most part, don’t seem to care (politicians on the other hand…). I’ve always felt the attitude here was “You wanna smoke, fine…just do it over there and stay the hell out of my way, I got somewhere to be.” I also think living in New York City means your mind is on so many other things and the city is filled with so many other irritants that being irritated by smokers just doesn’t chart very high. It’s usually the tourists who bitch about it. Obviously, these are tourists who have never been outside of North America, where smoking is not a habit so much as a sporting event.

Stopping smoking is not simple, but I certainly was never one of those smokers who lived to smoke or had to smoke. While I enjoyed it, I was fine not smoking, it was just my preference to smoke.

So, how am I doing it? Cold turkey. There simply is no other way. Yes, I am using a patch to help aid in the chemical withdraw. While science and intelligence tells me there was most certainly a chemical addiction, I never felt addicted. For me, it was mostly a psychological thing. I smoked when I was bored, when I needed to kill time and mostly when I was stressed. Boredom is always going to be kicking around, I’ll just have to find other ways to kill time. And the stress? Well, that’s why the good lord created Dr. X, Xanax.

I don’t suppose I am ever going to loose the desire to smoke, the trick will be re-adjusting my response of smoking to the psychological triggers. That’s gonna be the bitch of it all. Re-wiring. Blargh,

One legitimate fear of being a non-smoker is that I will become one. You know the type of non-smoker who randomly fake coughs around smokers or scrunches up their face while frantically waving their hand in front of themselves. Or even the extreme non-smoker who has the gumption to ask “Do you HAVE to smoke here?” I always wanted to be asked that question so I could simply reply “No, but I’m going to.”

Man, I just don’t wanna become that guy. The late comedian Bill Hicks used to joke “I’d quit smoking if I wasn’t so afraid of becoming a non-smoker.”

I’ll be damned if that 12 step thought process doesn’t apply here too. I mean if a drug addict or alcoholic is always a drug addict or alcoholic, I guess I will just have to think of myself as a smoker who doesn’t smoke.

So, why now? Because 30 years of smoking is a long mother f’ing time to be smoking! I’d also started getting a little smokers cough and, truth be told, I know better. Smoking is bad for you. I’ve known that for years. I’d also be lying if I didn’t say the anti-smoking commercials with people talking about losing extremities or showing them shaving around one of those talk holes or watching some devastated mother about to tell her children she has cancer didn’t have an effect on me.

While I can’t say definitively that this is forever, it is certainly for right now.

That doesn’t make me a non-smoker though, it simply means I am not smoking.