What Smoking Cigarettes For 20 Years Has Taught Me
From a user submission:
I’ve lit my first Marlboro cigarette at 12 years old and hated it. Not knowing several years later at 18 years old, I would become at regular smoker. While studying in college I earned enough at a part time job to afford my smoking habits. Back in those days, I would consciously count my consumption of cigarette sticks on a daily basis, keeping myself to a 10 stick daily limit. I’m 39 years old now and my smoking habit has continued to a pack of 20 sticks per day. I have never crossed more than a pack a day, maybe out of habit or out of guilt, a pack of smokes would always be in my pocket with a lighter.
20 YEARS OF LESSONS
Twenty years of smoking cigarettes have formed certain habits in my daily routine. Waking up and having my first cup of coffee in the morning is impossible without a couple cigarettes. Having work breaks to sit outside and think/meditate/ponder without cigarettes is counter-productive. Getting a nicotine buzz after a meal makes the meal complete. Ending the day sitting in the garden with a hot tea and wonder about the problems of tomorrow is not complete without at least 3 cigarettes before heading to bed.
Twenty years of smoking has taught me to isolate myself. Smoking cigarettes have become complements to my alone-time, the short periods of the day where I want to be alone with my thoughts. It’s hard to classify myself as a social smoker, because I don’t really enjoy the chit-chat with others while having a smoke. I’ve conditioned myself to be alone with my thoughts during times I need to satisfy my nicotine cravings.
Twenty years of smoking has taught me to live in denial. When doing any kind of physical activity such as walking up several flights of stairs, I desperately gasp for air but somehow convince myself that I am as fit as before when I was a young athlete.
Twenty years of smoking has taught me to transcend guilt. I’m sure I’m not the only smoker that constantly thinks about the risk of getting cancer and dying a painful death prematurely. We know the risks are there, yet we continue to take drags of cigarettes and temporarily place those nasty thoughts out of our minds, until right before lighting up the next cigarette.
Twenty years of smoking has taught me to avoid discussing my smoking habits with non-smokers. From my wife to my kids, I hastily avoid and deflect any kind of conversation regarding my smoking. It’s unrealistic to think that I could continue avoiding the confrontation especially when I smell of cigarettes around them.
Twenty years of smoking has taught me to be unrealistic with expectations. Surely I can live healthily until 80 years old without ever having complications from decades of smoking? When my time comes, it’ll be a peaceful and pain-free transition to the afterlife. Somehow, the hundreds of thousands of cigarettes I’ve consumed wouldn’t have any effect in my senior years just like lifelong non-smoker.
Twenty years of smoking has taught me to satisfy my impulsive cravings. For all the smokers reading this, we can all agree how awful it feels waking up in the morning and not having a pack of smokes nearby or having lost your lighter. It is embarrassing how we lose our tempers in front of others just because we need a smoke.
Twenty years of smoking has taught me that it is never too late to quit.
NEVER TOO LATE TO QUIT
My older brother recently bought me a Juul with a starter kit that includes several different flavored Juul Pods containing 5% nicotine. The Juul is not just a vape pen. I’ve always scoffed at the idea of vaping and those obnoxious people who spread the flavored vape cloud all over the place. But the Juul is different. It doesn’t look like a vape pen or e-cigarette. It looks like a USB stick. It looks high tech. I didn’t think I would like it.
After quick-charging the Juul unit with the cool magnetic USB charger, I inserted my first Juul Pod. I have 3 flavors including Menthol and Mint, but I stuck with regular Virginia Tobacco. Not that I like that flavor, in fact, I’ve always hated the taste of cigarettes. The first hit was…. different. I puffed with the same intensity as I do my Marlboro sticks and dragged too much, so I coughed for a few seconds. I instantly noticed the difference between the heavy smoke of Marlboro and the lighter vapor of the Juul Pod oil. I was used to the heavy smoke of Marlboros and decided I didn’t like the light vapor that tickled my throat. A few more puffs from the Juul and I lit up a regular Marlboro cigarette shortly afterwards.
That day, I continued to interchange a few hits from the Juul with a strong cigarette afterwards. I was dissatisfied and confused. I was a little upset. What was the point of smoking a regular cigarette after dragging the Juul? I was getting my nicotine dose with the Juul but I needed to feel the hard heavy smoke in my lungs. Why? This is what made me upset. Did I really like the nasty smoke more than just the nicotine? I decided it was stupid to like the heavy smoke because it makes no sense. After all, I wanted the nicotine, not all the nasty stuff that comes with it. That night when in the garden drinking my nightly hot tea, I threw away my pack of Marlboros and my lighter. I didn’t plan on doing it.
The next morning I woke up and out of habit I looked in my pockets for my pack and lighter. I found my Juul instead and remembered that I threw away my pack. I had a cup of coffee in my hand and I was nervous. More like anxious. I went outside and thought about my decision. I took several hard drags from the Juul and sipped my coffee. I immediately thought I was going to need go to the nearby store to buy a fresh pack of Marlboros but something stopped me. It wasn’t my guilt or my determination to quit cigarettes. I didn’t even plan to quit! I didn’t have to fight myself to stop from going to the store. I simply finished my coffee while dragging my Juul and felt …. normal.
Juul gave me the nicotine that my body has become used to accompany the intake of caffeine. I did not feel anxious or out of character, nor was I angry or impatient. I continued with my daily routines throughout the day, having more coffee during work breaks, more alone-time breaks, and the nightly hot tea garden smoke session – just with my Juul. Not once did I feel the need for a cigarette. In my mind, I got something better than a cigarette, I have a Juul.
As I’m writing this, I’m on my 3rd day without a cigarette. This has never happened before. In the 7400 days or so I’ve smoked regularly on a daily basis, there hasn’t been a day without the consumption of at least one cigarette. This is new for me. I’m excited and I’m not afraid of failure. I’m not afraid of going back to cigarettes because I’m still consuming nicotine but this time without the heavy burden of the guilt that overshadows the consumption of each cigarette. I like not having to worry about being out of breath so easy or smelling like smoke in front of my family.
For the smokers among you reading this, I’m sure there’s many things you can relate to. I won’t self-righteously proclaim that you should quit smoking – I’ve always hated when other people tried to tell me what to do too. Actually, I probably will never stop smoking. I’m addicted to the nicotine which, in my mind, makes me more alert, sharp, and focused on the things I need to think about. But I’m glad I don’t have to inhale the heavy dose of cigarette smoke anymore. i don’t miss the heaviness of my lungs after a cigarette. And I can do without that tar-like smell on your fingers which is so disgusting that we’ve actually learned to love the smell of it.
Try it for yourself. Who knows, you might like it.