Open Topic: Smoking

So I was lurking around earlier and noticed LuckyJohn19’s announcement of going four months smoke-free. I too have officially been off cigarettes since early February. I didn’t think I could ever do it, but with the help of friends, family, and Nicorette I’ve managed to do so. Not only that, but just a few weeks ago I talked my eighteen-year-old brother into giving up the cancer sticks (which is no easy task for a college freshman).

I tried quitting many times in the twelve years that I smoked, yet I never really believed that I would ever be permanently off cigarettes. Now that I have truly quit, there’s no going back. I have to avoid being in the presence of certain friends during breaks because I know they’re going to light up, and I can’t face that temptation. Above all else I’ve realized just how much of a subculture exists among smokers. People who may otherwise be as different as night and day are united in their addictions to nicotine. While I was definitely aware of this in my heavy smoking days, the impact of this realization had never before been so blunt. Everywhere I go I see people puffing away, and it fully dawns on me that I’m no longer a part of their aggregate.

Here at SEB I recently made a crack about accepting a cigarette from Nowiser. This was a mistake, and a painful one at that. Even though the quip was made entirely in jest, it made me think about how difficult it can be to escape the lure of smoking.

I’m simply curious about the gang here: how many of you smoke or have quit/tried to?

155 thoughts on “Open Topic: Smoking

  1. I smoked pipe in 6th grade, but it never took and I didn’t even finish the can of tobacco. I’ve been around enough people trying to quit (some for the umpteenth time) to know what a struggle it is.

  2. I don’t smoke, never have – and ever since LA has been smoke-free, it has been so nice to go out to eat and not have to a) wait for a table in the ‘smoke free section’ and b) curse the fact that the HVAC system doesn’t know to keep the smoke on the smoker’s side.

    Anyway, kudos for kicking the habit. As with any addiction, getting it under control can be tough. You might check out Nicotine Anonymous as another tool in the ‘quit smoking’ toolbox.

  3. My grandfather on my father’s side smoked all his life after the Navy, and died at 94.  My parents both smoked all through my childhood and young adult life.  They quit in their early sixties.  My father passed away of heart failure at only 65, my mother is still going strong at 79.  Pretty sure her mother never smoked and she is still griping about GW Bush at 98.

    Nicotine was my drug of choice in college but living in East Tennessee put me in close proximity to a wonderful tobacconist where I could blend my own pipe tobaccos.  That is a way of smoking well-suited to studying but not to working on your feet and I just didn’t have time to smoke after college.  Now I smoke an occasional cigar.

  4. I smoked seriously from about 15 to 60. I had a year off in the early 90s.
    I’ll never have the courage to say I’ll never smoke again cos I know how insidious nicotine is.

    (I smoked dope from about 20 to 60 with nearly 10 years straight during the 80s and early 90s
    The idea of THC still interests me but not necessarily what it could do for me in the future but more to recapture what it did for me in the past. If you don’t understand, don’t worry about it – it’s all psycho stuff.)

    I have to admit I’ve done the giving-up-smoking easy (as I recently mentioned somewhere else).
    If it’d been hard I dunno if Ida got thru it.
    For those who don’t know, I’d been saying for a few years that if I made to my 60th birthday I’d stop mainly cos I had trouble breathing and my wheezing at night ‘worried me’.
    That sounds a bit crazy cos the idea of living hadn’t really interested me much for many years.
    I was well aware I was doing the passive suicide thing.

    So I got to 60 on New Year’s Day and decided to follow thru with the idea of stopping; the main reason being that I decided I wanted to live … I haven’t decided how much longer yet but I’m liking it so far.
    It’s like I turned over a new leaf into a new freedom within a new life.
    It’s rather liberating.

    I don’t care who smokes around me; my mate visits and I bring the ashtray inside for him to use and he smokes in my car as well; I honestly do not care … I insisted he not change his habits to suit me.
    I’d like him to stop but I know hassling him won’t work cos it never worked on me; his wife’s been hassling him for years and it hasn’t dented his resolve.
    So I just set the example, the standard and stick to my game.
    He’ll either change or not.

    My deciding not to smoke is a personal choice and in this instance I don’t need the world to change to suit me which is really handy cos I know it won’t.
    I hope I never turn into one of those fanatical ex-smokers although I must admit I feel a bit sorry for those who are still stuck in the rut even though I know how hard it is to escape.
    The only way to stop is to decide to stop. (I know how silly that sounds)
    That’s all it takes but I know the drug has such a hold that it convinced me I loved it for years … just as the heroin addict is convinced he loves the drug as he watches his life [sic] walk out on him.

  5. I haven’t smoked for about 7 years, not since high school.  I have no desire to pick one up.  Strangely though when I am with a group of friends or at some social setting I see people smoking and something peeks my interest.

    I do not know why, cause I think smoking is a filthy habit, and I do not care much for it at all.  But nonetheless there is still something that happens, and then I bring myself back to reality and say what the fuck was I thinking.  Maybe it’s all that subliminal advertising.

    Congrats to LJ and Sadie, quitting is not difficult by any means and yours are definitely an example to follow.  Maybe I can get my girlfriend to quit and then all will be wonderful again.

  6. I so glad I never took smoking up, I know I just wouldn’t be able to quit, just looking at the package I feel tempted by them, it is so odd. Congratulations Sadie, you won’t regret this, smoking related deaths are some of the most horrible ways to die, usually long and painfully.

  7. I never took up the habit myself (thankfully, as all four of my grandparents died of cancer).  But I did want to pass along a big ol dollop of congrats. to SS and LJ.  If you can keep your family from going through what my Mom-in-law put hers through in the last two days of life, it’s worth it.  (Trust me:  You do NOT want to know the color/consistency of the stuff that’s pumped out of a cancer-rotted lung.  Neither does anyone who loves you.)

    Keep going and good job!

  8. Good luck, Sadie! Quitting smoking is a process, one that can take years until it finally “takes”.

    I smoked 2-3 packs per day for 26 years. Every single photograph of me from the age of 14 to 40 shows me with a cigarette either dangling from my lips or jammed between my fingers. I smoked Marlboro “reds” in the “crush-proof” box for about 20 years, Marlboro Lights for 2 years, and Marlboro Ultra-Lights for 2 years.

    I quit hundreds of times when I was in my 30’s. Quitting was easy . . . I’d crush the pack at around 11pm, and convince myself that THIS WAS IT. At 11am, I was gasping and driving myself to the gas station to get another carton.  Once I managed to make it 2 whole weeks before deciding I really just wanted to smoke. 

    Around January 2000, my son came home from school and announced that he was afraid that I was going to die. He had seen a film at school about the dangers of smoking, and he asked me to please quit. I said “Yeah, sure. I’ll quit!” – and of course, I continued smoking.

    In September 2000, my son said “Dad, remember when you promised me you’d quit smoking? Are you ever gonna quit?” I realized that I had made a promise to my kid, and now HE realized that I was a liar, and I was teaching him that it was okay to lie to people you love. That night, I got every pack of cigarettes laying around the house that I could find, and he opened them up and broke every single cigarette, one at a time.

    I was lucky. For me, it was like someone turned off a switch – one day I smoked like a fiend, the next day I *didn’t*. I haven’t smoked for 6-1/2 years now, and I don’t miss it one bit.

    I also put on 40 pounds of fat around my middle, quickly developed all kinds of stomach problems that kept me up all night, literally wanting to DIE until the doctor put me on Prilosec (excess stomach acid in a VERY bad way – it seems that smoking inhibits the production of stomach acid – who knew?), and my blood pressure, which had always been normal, shot thru the ceiling. Now, instead of money going to cartons of cigarettes, it goes to Prilosec and Dynacirc.

    But I’d go thru all of that again just to be out of the clutches of nicotine. 

    Sorry for the novel – but good luck! You can do it, and it *is* worth it, ultimately.  grin

  9. At 23 I have never smoked in my life. But I have thought about picking up the pipe one more than one occasion in the last year.

    Most people I know always say “Somethings gotta kill you” and due to the fact that none of my grandparents have lived much past 70 I am thinking that I might as well have fun while I am here! My only worry is that smoking might cut into my drinking time!

  10. I also put on 40 pounds of fat around my middle, quickly developed all kinds of stomach problems that kept me up all night, literally wanting to DIE until the doctor put me on Prilosec (excess stomach acid in a VERY bad way – it seems that smoking inhibits the production of stomach acid – who knew?), and my blood pressure, which had always been normal, shot thru the ceiling. Now, instead of money going to cartons of cigarettes, it goes to Prilosec

    It’s my long-lost TWIN BROTHER!

    Your story sounds pretty much the same as mine, except I smoked Camels, and it was my girlfriend who wanted me to quit.

    But the multiple tries, the weight gain and the entirely sleepless nights, until I went onto Prilosec, that all sounds -exactly- the same.

  11. I smoke ultra lights but I’m currently trying to quit again. I’ve quit for as long as a year before and started back. It’s a stupid fucking crutch and it shames me to call myself a smoker, so I’ve got to quit for good this time. I’ve just got to.

  12. My father smoked about 40 cigarettes a day for about 10 years. He quit cold turkey about 22 years ago and now he says he finds the idea of smoking repulsive. I personally have never been tempted to smoke as fortunately or unfortunately smoke (even second hand ) gives me asthma.
    Good job LJ and SS.

  13. I started smoking when I was 14 years old and I think that I quit for good 7 years ago, when I was 43 years old.  I had earlier quit smoking twice for about a year each time, but I think that the third time was the charm.

  14. I don’t smoke, but a lot of people at work do, they say it’s what the company does to you, good luck though

  15. I never got hooked.  I like the smell of Marlboros, but gawd, I couldn’t STAND the aftertaste.  Not to mention being chronically short on cash was an incentive not to start.

    I’ve always gotten my pick-me-up buzz off of caffine.  My goal nowadays is to keep the caffine out of the late afternoon/evenings.

  16. Nicotine is one of the best neurostimulants (in terms of side-effect to benefit ratio) available.  It significantly improves cognitive function.  Only problem is that it’s addictive and the most common delivery mechanism has a lot of bad health effects. 

    But many health messages come with a heaping helping of shame, which is counterproductive.  Shame isn’t particularly useful for self-improvement as it tends to stifle the sense of reward in small accomplishments.  “I feel so guilty I had a cheeseburger for lunch” and so forth.  If Buddha was right that existence is suffering then reward will always be more powerful than pain.

  17. I am a firefighter in the Chicago land area. I do not smoke. Here in Northern Illinois there is a disturbing trend where the local governments are making smoking illegal. Some whole counties have actually made it illegal to smoke in public. I personlly find this to be wrong.

  18. Thank you everyone for your input and your well-wishing. I wholeheartedly appreciate it. Brock, I wish you luck in your attempts to quit, and I congratulate all of you who have successfully quit.

    DOF, you said:

    But many health messages come with a heaping helping of shame, which is counterproductive.  Shame isn’t particularly useful for self-improvement as it tends to stifle the sense of reward in small accomplishments.

    I agree completely. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is trying to avoid beating myself up whenever I am faced with temptation. It’s very hard at times to not label myself a “fucking idiot” whenever my heart races in response to the smell of smoke. To thus denigrate myself would be entirely counterproductive and only make an already tense situation worse. This is also why I consider much of the rhetoric of some anti-smoking campaigns to be, at best, misguided.

  19. I consider much of the rhetoric of some anti-smoking campaigns to be, at best, misguided.

    Probably not exactly misguided because the intention isn’t what you think.  Many of the campaigns are, after all, funded by tobacco companies as part of court settlements.  They know exactly what they are doing.

  20. Probably not exactly misguided because the intention isn’t what you think.  Many of the campaigns are, after all, funded by tobacco companies as part of court settlements.  They know exactly what they are doing.

    Which to me is absolutly backwords. The idea of a company being forced to advertise against itself, is silly. I believe that every company has the right to advertise, to try and sell thier business, to try and make money.

  21. The idea of a company being forced to advertise against itself, is silly.

    Absolutely right.  Anti-smoking campaigns should be run by people who are actually against smoking.  Hopefully, with some notion of effective persuasion.

    I believe that every company has the right to advertise, to try and sell thier business, to try and make money.

    The maximum amount of tobacco that one can safely consume is very small because tobacco is toxic and causes extremely expensive health problems in the long run.  In our insurance-connected society, the expense of these health problems is widely spread, and is far higher than other risks.

      For tobacco companies to advertise their product as enhancing quality of life (which for some people, in very small doses, is true, but as a chronic habit is completely false) allows them to profit by externalizing the costs of that health care.  This ain’t cheeseburgers, this is poison

    Libertarian view works out great for the tobacco companies, though.  For society, not so much.

  22. The money comes from tobacco companies, but the tobacco companies don’t actually make the commercials.  The commercials are made by anti-smoking groups and gov affiliated groups.

  23. I have never smoked. I also hate to be around smokers. My incredibly strong sense of smell and asthma might have something to do with that though…

    Good luck on staying smoke free. Even if you start up again, we still love you smile

  24. Started at thirteen, smoked in increasing amounts until eighteen when everyone quit nagging about it.  Then, not being terribly keen on lung cancer, I quit.  The fact that I waited until people stopped demanding that I quit probably tells something very sad about my personality…

  25. I’d be very surprised of some of those groups didn’t turn out to be tied with string to the tobacco companies.  Some of those ads seem calculated to harness the natural rebellious tendency of young people to go pick up a cigarette.

  26. Smoked Camels and Roll-ups for a few (3 I think) years, but quit with no trouble.  Sometimes when I’ve a had a few pints I really want a fag or two- which works out really expensive, as you have to buy a pack, which goes to waste, plus the horrible taste and smell in the mornings (if I’ve drunk enough to smoke, I’ve drunk to much to care about washing my hair)

    For me it was the ritual, (rather than the image). Especially with roll-ups.  Also if you can roll you get real popular at parties!

    Down the pub we used to throw our fags in the middle in a communial pile.  Always cheap for me, as my mates mostly smoke Silk Cut or similar (aka ‘Straws’, cos “that’s what it’s like sucking on”), so I hardly ever lost any of the Camels!

  27. I tried smoking for two weeks in my late teens. Couldn’t understand the appeal and stopped without even coming close to finishing the pack.

    My folks smoked for most of my life, though, so I’ve probably inhaled enough second hand smoke to qualify as a smoker for at least a couple of years.

    Last few years most of the folks I hang around aren’t smokers so as a result I tend to be more sensitive than I used to be when I am around a smoker.

  28. I smoked roll-ups for the last 20 years – there was a ritual tied up with the whole smoking game. Even into my 4th month I still sometimes feel the urge to spin my chair to the table behind me where I used to keep the makings.
    I coupla weeks ago I did; that was weird.

    WhopV: Some whole counties have actually made it illegal to smoke in public. I personally find this to be wrong.

    I can understand keeping shopping centres, eateries and petrol stations smoke-free but this is bloody ridiculous.
    I stopped needing a nanny to tell me what I could and couldn’t do to MY body when I went to war.
    Being one of those crazy libertarians who believe EVERY drug should be legalised I’d prefer the government to just reap taxes from controlling drugs’ potencies when sold to those people old enough to vote, drive cars and go to war.

    I believe that every company has the right to advertise, to try and sell their business, to try and make money.

    Absolutely … even though cigarette companies ‘say’ their advertising doesn’t attract new users.
    As long as any advertisement isn’t false or misleading any company that pays taxes should be allowed to advertise.
    I guess that should rule out churches but it doesn’t.

    DoF: The maximum amount of tobacco that one can safely consume is very small because tobacco is toxic

    I ‘heard’ that if the nicotine from one cigarette was injected into your arm you’d be dead in 45 seconds; it could be an urban myth.

  29. There’s about 10mg nicotine in a cigarette (you only get a tiny fraction of that by smoking it) and it takes 50mg or so to kill you.  If pure nicotine were dripped on your skin you could absorb a fatal dose, you wouldn’t have to inject it. I’ve read about kids eating cigarette butts and getting sick.  But the harm from cigarettes is mostly from the zillion other compounds in tobacco. It’s complicated stuff.

    I have a hunch nicotine is more beneficial to some people than others – that “reward” thing.  The people for whom it is less beneficial can quit easily and feel smug about it.  And the people for whom nicotine is more beneficial feel guilty about it.

  30. Brock, I wish you luck in your attempts to quit…

    Thanks, Sadie, I’ll be a member of the non-smokers club soon, I hope. But this time I’ll have to keep my dues payments up.

  31. I’ve been curious, on one occasion only, to try to see what other people see in smoking cigarettes. I’ve only smoked pot as a social thing, and I dropped that like a rock the moment I got accepted to University.

    I have a hunch nicotine is more beneficial to some people than others – that “reward” thing.  The people for whom it is less beneficial can quit easily and feel smug about it.  And the people for whom nicotine is more beneficial feel guilty about it.

    I think the reward issue is there, and it’s significant. The same people I know who don’t have trouble kicking a habit also have no sex drive, and I like to pretend there’s a strong link.

  32. The same people I know who don’t have trouble kicking a habit also have no sex drive, and I like to pretend there’s a strong link.

    Okay, I’m going to concur with you on this one issue just because that was damn funny.

  33. Some of my friends have told me that part of the addiction is the feel of the cigarette in their fingers. I wonder how effective switching to marijuana would be at helping to quit. As far as I understand weed does not cause physical addiction and is far healthier than tobacco.

  34. That’s an interesting concept, Pat.
    I was a bit of a root rat when I was younger but nowadays I’m too selfish and lazy to make the effort.

    Sadie: It’s very hard at times to not label myself a “fucking idiot” whenever my heart races in response to the smell of smoke.

    There’ve been quite a number of times when I thought ‘just one more smoke’ but so far I’ve been able to quickly follow it up with the revealing reality of ‘and then what?’ to which I really do know the answer.
    Consensual slavery; how fucked up is THAT concept?

    Brock, I wish you luck in your attempts to quit…

    So do I, mate.
    In the KISS scheme of things, ultimately, it boils down to a continuously simple decision.
    Damn! I feel a song coming on. wink
    Ooo shup shup
    What’s it gonna be boy? Yes, or, No?

  35. Some of my friends have told me that part of the addiction is the feel of the cigarette in their fingers.

    Absolutely. I know of many people who, upon quitting, continue to hold unlit cigarettes between their fingers in order to not completely sever themselves from the experience. I personally am not at the point where I could buy a pack of cigarettes and be able to abstain from lighting them.

    I wonder how effective switching to marijuana would be at helping to quit.

    For me, smoking cigarettes and smoking pot are barely comparable. Even so, I usually smoked marijuana and cigarettes in tandem. For some reason cigarettes tasted absolutely amazing to me while stoned. I’ve been trying to stay away from pot for the time being because it is so strongly associated in my mind with cigarette smoking.

    As far as I understand weed does not cause physical addiction and is far healthier than tobacco.

    That’s true. I look forward to the day that I’m ready to score some Mary Jane again.  smile

  36. I’m the only person in my family who doesn’t smoke. I’ve never been inclined to try it.

  37. I’ve never smoked, but my Dad took up smoking when he was 20 and smoked until his early 40s, at which point I was diagnosed with asthma. He gave up the first time, and now despises the smell of smoke.

    Still, I’ve spent a lot of time in smoky bars so I’ve probably passively-smoked a lot of tobacco over the years.

    All public places (bars and restaurants included) in the UK will be completely non-smoking by July 1st this year – Ireland, Scotland and Wales already have full smoking bans and England and Northern Ireland are soon to follow. And tobacco companies have been prevented from advertising in any form for some years now here.

  38. The maximum amount of tobacco that one can safely consume is very small because tobacco is toxic and causes extremely expensive health problems in the long run.  In our insurance-connected society, the expense of these health problems is widely spread, and is far higher than other risks.

    For tobacco companies to advertise their product as enhancing quality of life (which for some people, in very small doses, is true, but as a chronic habit is completely false) allows them to profit by externalizing the costs of that health care.  This ain’t cheeseburgers, this is poison. 

    Libertarian view works out great for the tobacco companies, though.  For society, not so much.

    I believe society is smart enough to make decisions for themselves.

  39. I can understand keeping shopping centres, eateries and petrol stations

    I can’t understand that. Reasons as follows:

    1.) Businesses should be allowed to choose what they do and do not offer.
    2.) If they offer a smoking enviroment. Then the consumer should choose to either do businesses there or not to do businesses there.

    Forcing the business to not offer something because you personnally don’t like it, is not right. The business should choose what they offer.

    Further more.

    3.) If there is enough demand to have a non-smoking enviroment. Then some one who does not enjoy smoke, should start their own business that does not offer a smoking enviroment.
    4.) If there is enough demand to have a non-smoking enviroment. Then said, non-smoking enviroment, business mentioned above should have sufficient revenue.

  40. In addition to the above.

    1.) If an employee recognizes a risk to thier health. Then that employee has a choice to either stay at that job or get a new one.

    In fact I think employer should have employees sign a waiver that show the employee does recognize the possible risk.

    2.) If enough employees choose to not work in a smoking enviroment. Then employers would have to pay more to retain an employees services.

  41. OK, Whopvillian, you take the libertarian point of view on public smoking, we get it.  Are there any environmental, workplace, or societal depredations related to the exercise of individual freedoms, that you would consider unacceptable?

  42. Whopvillian, you lose me the moment you say “should”. If it isn’t real, it isn’t worth talking about. In particular, though, your emphasis on choice bothers me. Puzzler: when does a person become competent to choose for themselves in a way that benefits our society? How do you know?

  43. Off the top of my head, in terms of smoking. I believe smoking in the public sector should be off limits. We as a citizens are not given a choice to attend a DMV, court house, or village hall. Plus tax funds are used to fund them.

    But in the private sector, ie restaurants, bars, stores. The decision should be that of the business owner.

  44. Puzzler: when does a person become competent to choose for themselves in a way that benefits our society? How do you know?

    In answer to your puzzler. It is not mine or anybodies right to decide who can and who can’t make thier own competent choices.
    You may believe that tomatoes are the devil. I may enjoy them. Who gets to decide?

    Which is why I believe that everybody can make a choice for themselves.

  45. It is not mine or anybodies right to decide who can and who can’t make thier own competent choices.

    You dodged the question. The question remains, “at what point does the transition from incompetent co competent occur?” For the record, however, you just showed me that parenting is a “wrong” thing, because parenting, of necessity, requires making choices on the child’s behalf.

    This isn’t about a matter of authority; only a matter of fact. Your answer seems to rely on that we need to establish an authority (who gets to decide) before we can say whether or not a particular action is well advised. And you hold that nobody has that “right”.

    So that’s a pretty blatant admission that you have no power to assert what is good or bad. For this, you give me every reason to believe that I cannot trust your judgement, because you have asserted either that a) no person can know reality sufficiently to make a decision or b) even if we knew the reality and could act in the good of the larger population, that it would be “wrong” to let such decisions be made.

  46. Back to the much funnier topic of spiked PSA’s – by fine-tuning the content of an ad, or making sure that the content will be chosen by someone with zero understanding of youth culture, tobacco companies can realize net gains from them. 

    Just for laughs, here’s an article from back when the tobacco settlements were pouring in, about Lolliard’s “Tobacco is whacko if you’re a teen” campaign.  In that case, they didn’t hand money over to anti-smoking groups, they hired an advertising agency and controlled the content of the ads.  In other states, the company handed money over to state agencies that commissioned the ads.  Because you know, government bureaucrats are so adept at picking ads that reach teens.  There was no risk of any effective ads actually being aired.

    But back to Lolliard – some of their money was being given to the “Truth” campaign and in 2002 they they tried to stop it because those ads were actually working.  Philip Morris didn’t like it either.

    Even the tobacco industry is pretty open about their lobbying, spiking, and astroturfing – they’re just complying with court orders, after all:

    In an ironic twist, the American Legacy Foundation has called on tobacco companies to pull their parent-targeted anti-smoking ads, at least in part because an upcoming study in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health suggests that cigarette manufacturers’ spots actually increase the likelihood that teens will smoke in the future. Tobacco.org news and information: Legacy, Philip Morris spar

     

    The deeper you dig, the worse it smells.

    Remember kids!  It isn’t “cool” to smoke!  It’s “cool” not to smoke!  cheese

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