If you’re a smoker, don’t worry. I’m not one of those santimonious sorts who starts fake coughing everytime you light up. When you go out for a cigarette I won’t follow you with pictures of diseased organs and stories about the bad side of smoking.
You’re not an idiot, you know these things. It’s an addiction, you can’t just turn it off.
But for me, this month marks nine years since I gave up smoking.
By the time I gave up smoking in 2009, I was 31 and had been smoking for about 16 years.
I had been smoking that long that when I started I could buy ten cigarettes, a box of matches and a packet of polos for 94p. Now I’d need to remortgage!
Growing up in the 80s and 90s smoking was completley ‘normal’. There was no doubt it was a disgusting habit and people knew the health implications but smokers seems to be all over the place. I didn’t think my habit was particularly bad.
I did actually try to give up in 2004 as it was starting to get too expensive. Back then, the only REAL help on offer was a chat with the doctor, a leaflet and nicotine patches. Needless to say, I wasn’t succesful and so I continued.
The smoking ban in 2007 didn’t even make me want to stop, if anything it massively improved my social life. I met some really nice people outside bars smoking.
Even meeting Rory who is super healthy and HATED my habit wasn’t enough to make me want to quit. I was hardcore, in it for the long haul…so I thought.
One midweek afternoon in 2009 I invited some friends round. We were having a drink to celebrate/commiserate my newly unemployed status. A LOT of vodka was drunk, handstands were done in the front garden, music was played too loudly and I was, for one night only, the worst neighbour in our cul-de-sac. Heck, the guy we’re pretty sure dealing drugs was in better favour than I that evening.
The following day, I was oh so ill. I couldn’t even pretend it was some bug, there was no doubting I was hungover. I was so sick I didn’t smoke for three days. Not big, not clever BUT the start of something new. I’m the competitive sort, once I was better I figured that as I’d gone three days without smoking, I could totally do four. Before I knew it I’d done a week, two, then three!
What surprised me most was that I missed the habit of smoking rather than the actual smoking itself. Unfortunately I replaced the habit with eating so trips to the doctor changed from
“You really must give up smoking” to “You really must lose weight”
Look Doc, it seems I can do one or the other!
Although I’m really proud of giving up smoking, I wouldn’t recommend my method as the one to follow, in fact there are many more sensible ways to give up. I’ve heard success stories regarding hypnosis, I have friends who have managed to successfully give up by vaping and there is now a wealth of information and support available online, a particularly good one is NHS Smokefree.
So, nine years as a non-smoker, how do I feel? I’ll be honest, the desire to smoke is always loitering. If I’m having a really bad day I’ll wish I could just sit on the step and have a cigarette. There have been times when I’ve caved and had ‘just one’ – usually after a drink. I’m fatter than I used to be but overall I am pretty pleased with myself.
I’m pleased that I don’t have to wash my hair every day now, I don’t miss waking up to the smell of stale smoke in my room from the clothes I wore last night and that aftertaste.
England now has the second lowest smoking rate in Europe with only 15.5% of adults at it. It’s not as ‘normal’ as it used to be and I hope that by not being a smoker I will lead by example to my children and they won’t take up the habit. I have enough to worry about without throwing that into the mix!