Life's smoke-filled voids: Falling in and out of a cigarette habit
December 2, 2013 9:56 AM   Subscribe

 
Really doesn't matter what the habit/action/vice/self-harm is, we find plenty of ways to rationalize and explain it away.
posted by k5.user at 10:07 AM on December 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


Should have chosen weed.
posted by planetesimal at 10:09 AM on December 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't smoke and I'm not at all fond of the habit, and while the habit was still popular I was somewhat envious of my coworkers who did smoke. Smoke breaks seemed to be a great way to bond with others (bumming or loaning smokes or a light, chatting), and make new friends. And take a regular break every hour.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:11 AM on December 2, 2013 [19 favorites]


I do exactly this sort of rationalizing with food. No bueno.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:11 AM on December 2, 2013


My god I miss smoking.

Yeah, I know it's bad for me and the environment (and apparently the frogs), but I loved being a smoker. I loved having something to do when I wasn't doing anything. I loved finding comrades in the smoker's corner outside of the classroom building, the workplace, the bar. I loved the buffalo circle we'd create on cold days, huddling in close with our backs to the wind and our cigarettes safely in the middle. There was a sense of community. Need a light? That guy'll help you out. Wanna talk to that cute girl? Go over and ask for a cigarette. Easy conversation starter.

Stepping out to smoke a cigarette was a conscious way to take a mini-break in the middle of a day, something that I still haven't figured out how to do sans ciggie. I go outside for a "fresh air break" and find myself wondering what I'm supposed to do.

It's not the cigarettes I was addicted to, it was the habits that went along with them. I'll probably live to be 100 now that I've quit, but I'll probably never figure out what do to on a 15-minute work break.
posted by Elly Vortex at 10:13 AM on December 2, 2013 [55 favorites]


15 minute speed walk around the building, Elly Vortex.

We're a mix of smokers and non, but smokers and non alike are okay to take 'smoke breaks', either heading down to the smoking area, chilling in the kitchen drinking a cuppa for 10 min, or walking to 7-11.

Yay for relaxed offices. Sometimes it's the simply brisk walk I need, not the $2 gum.
posted by tilde at 10:16 AM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


My god I miss smoking.

You and me too. Passed the 4 year mark mid-October, and I still want one right now. I also forget to get out of my chair for hours at a time, until I'm half blind and have a splitting headache, because I no longer take smoke breaks.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:20 AM on December 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Vape On. All the nicotine, all the oral fixation, all the ceremony, and likely soon all the regulation of being under the umbrella of 'tobacco product' that forces the outside break.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:22 AM on December 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


i miss cigarettes as a way to know who the cool kids were in movies, tv, and real life.

it was also a great way to start a convo or flirt.

i don't smoke much anymore (if ever) but i have been guilty of using it as an excuse to talk a cute guy. "hey, can i bum one?".
posted by sio42 at 10:24 AM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm so deep into it, I roll my own. Habits inside of habits, with a crafty touch.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:24 AM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I liked smoking a lot, too. But I've been a quitter for longer than I was a smoker; it's odd to still be addicted to it.

Despite the strange feeling of longing for a specific thing that satiates a specific needs, man, I can't but shake my head at how fucking awful smoking is for people.

It's the leading cause of cancer. And of deaths from cancer. Smoking causes heart disease, stroke, aneurysms, COPD, harmful birth outcomes, premature deaths, and a shitload of other awful diseases that place a big burden on society as a whole.

It's also marketed at children, who make decisions with regard to short-term, not long-term, consequences - which is particularly dangerous when it's in the context of addictive and extremely harmful substances.

tl;dr - bad shit, yo.
posted by entropone at 10:24 AM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


we find plenty of ways to rationalize and explain it away

It seems to me that the author was not rationalizing smoking but just acknowledging the reasons why she loved it so much. After all, she quit.
posted by beau jackson at 10:28 AM on December 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Hi, can I bum a smoke? Actually, keep it -- I quit, but I don't have any other conversation starters. Ha ha, yeah. So what's your name?"

Seconding zengargoyle on e-cigs. It turned out what I really liked about smoking was having a cool cigarette case and a sweet zippo. Now I have a thing with a blue LED in the end, and a whole pencil case full of batteries and usb plugs and little mysterious bottles of liquid and clear plastic tubes with ml markings on them and...
posted by rifflesby at 10:36 AM on December 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


I vape now and don't miss smoking cigarettes even the slightest bit anymore. (full disclosure: I am not a compensated endorser, but I do have an old middle school buddy who runs an ecig shop). A lot of this rings true: smoking was all about slowing down and spending a little time on introspection without feeling idle, for me. Well, also, the powerful, powerful addiction to nicotine, which for me meant a two-to-three pack a day habit from about age 15 until my early 30s. I imagine I was among the last generation of underage smokers in the US whose guardians knowingly let them smoke and supplied them with cigarettes without being completely outcast for it by polite society (it was already illegal to do this I think, but enforcement was surprisingly lax).
posted by saulgoodman at 10:37 AM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm so deep into it, I roll my own.

I did that, for years. Even though I quit smoking more than 20 years ago, I still do it sometimes in dreams. The other night, I was rolling again.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:41 AM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I could sit and stare into the middle distance and think to myself all I wanted because I was still doing something: I was smoking.

God, yes. Unf.

And e-cigarettes are the clean cold robot probe to the warm dirty sexy hand of cigarettes. They have as much soul as the patch, though with significantly less contact dermatitis. I hate all the little bottles and fiddling with clearomizers and wondering if I should have opinions about voltage. I'm down to vaping maybe 20 drags a day - a cigarette or two? - because I still have the anxiety about not smoking but I'm about done. I'll have to keep it around and ready for a bad day, but I already don't even take it out of the house. And I don't just stare and think as much anymore, either.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:41 AM on December 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Learning how to meditate helps.
posted by planetesimal at 10:42 AM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I quit before e-cigs were big, kind of wish I could try one but fuck that at this point. I miss smoking most because it could absolutely destroy my writers block. Something about being able to rest the mind with a break while at the same time massively stimulating it with a powerful, stress reducing (in the moment) drug just really helped jumpstart creativity.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:44 AM on December 2, 2013


Passed the 4 year mark mid-October, and I still want one right now

That's rough...I am not far off you I guess but the only time I really even care for one is if I've been out drinking with smokers. And then I can only have one or 2 over an evening before I get nauseous and dizzy. I'm even at the point where I find the smell a bit overpowering.

I guess it's different for everyone. I definitely loved it too and this piece is a pretty accurate reflection of the reasons why, but I can honestly say now that I no longer miss it.
posted by Hoopo at 10:46 AM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


THIS THREAD IS MAKING ME WANT A CIGARETTE AND I QUIT 18 (AND 11) YEARS AGO DAMMIT
posted by Lucinda at 10:55 AM on December 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


I quit before e-cigs were big, kind of wish I could try one but fuck that at this point.

You could always try it with a nicotine-free liquid if the curiosity becomes overwhelming. There are vape lounges popping up in my town (a college town); I've heard them compared to hookah lounges. Ideally, though, if you're not slipping back onto cigarettes, just skip it. I'd really only recommend it for die-hard addicts who are definitely going to be backsliding to cigarettes again otherwise (a category experience has taught me I definitely fall into).
posted by saulgoodman at 10:56 AM on December 2, 2013


I had a 21 pack-year habit I gave up about 20 years ago. When I quit, I'm promised myself I only had to abstain until I turned 80. Since then, I've taken up running, logging 20-25 miles a week. I'm holding steady near my high school weight. I enjoy excellent health and quality of life.

But come that 80th birthday, I still look forward to walking down to the convenience store, buying a carton of Marlboros and smoking those fuckers up.
posted by klarck at 10:57 AM on December 2, 2013 [21 favorites]


I never smoked, but as a socially nervous person I did used to envy smokers enormously at parties and such. To have something to do with your hands, some way of filling any pause in the conversation, something to fiddle about with if you happened to find yourself with no one to talk to etc. I can understand an enormous part of cigarette's addictive quality even leaving aside the actual chemical dependency on nicotine.

Of course, the lung, mouth or throat cancer, and inflicting that ghastly stench on everyone around you still didn't seem like a reasonable price to pay...
posted by yoink at 10:57 AM on December 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


When I quit, I'm promised myself I only had to abstain until I turned 80.

That's an excellent idea. I'll be quitting in the new year sometime (3rd time for me & SO?), and I'll be thinking this.
posted by jpe at 11:05 AM on December 2, 2013


I still smoke in my dreams. It's the weirdest thing, because I don't even miss them anymore.
When I quit, though, I was like Father Ted in that Lent episode, verging on Father Jack.
posted by Lemmy Caution at 11:05 AM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


this is exactly why the only way I was able to quit smoking was to roll lots and lots of joints. Apparently there might be a reason this helped beyond just having something to do with my hands.
posted by zenwerewolf at 11:06 AM on December 2, 2013


You could always try it with a nicotine-free liquid if the curiosity becomes overwhelming.

I'll probably just wait for the legal THC variety.

I still smoke in my dreams.

See, I hate that because I wake up and think I broke down and started smoking again the night before until I realize it was a dream.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:18 AM on December 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I got started for totally different reasons than the author, but a lot of the reasons I stuck with it for so long are the same, plus a few additional ones.

I never smoked, but as a socially nervous person I did used to envy smokers enormously at parties and such. To have something to do with your hands, some way of filling any pause in the conversation, something to fiddle about with if you happened to find yourself with no one to talk to etc. I can understand an enormous part of cigarette's addictive quality even leaving aside the actual chemical dependency on nicotine.

Yep, that's a big one. As an extreme introvert, taking a sort-of socially understandable break from a party whenever I felt like it was a huge bonus - leaving a party for 5-10 minutes just to go stand outside by yourself and not have to talk to anybody is generally frowned upon. Also, there would usually be a couple other smokers outside, and that size of a social gathering was a lot more manageable for me than dealing with the throngs inside. Similarly, I didn't start until after the inside smoking ban in California, so I never had to experience clubs and bars filled with smoke. But in SoCal, having to go outside to smoke is kind of a great thing anyway.

I didn't start until I was in college and some friends and I got a pack on the way home from a party or something. I was in architecture school, which is kina/sorta like art school, so my default social group (the other people in my major who I shared a building with for 80% of the daylight hours) probably already contained more smokers than average. My first one was unfiltered, and got me so high I had to sit down because. So, I started for that, but it stuck because there were frequently times when I'd be working on stuff at 3am, but would have to stop for a few minutes to let something dry or try to wake up, and smoking fit that slot perfectly.

Unless it was towards the end of the semester and I was in studio 20 hours every day, or I was really drunk, when I could take out a whole pack, I really maxed out at about a half-pack a day. Sometimes, when my wife is out of town or something, I'll still go to a bar, get a drink and sit in their outdoor area and watch a game where smoking is allowed, and it's nice.
posted by LionIndex at 11:19 AM on December 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I smoked from age 15 to 31 and I fucking LOVED it. The last few years I rolled my own, and I loved the ritual. I quit nearly 6 years ago for mainly health reasons and also cost (I dont know how much they cost in America, but my brand of choice was Marlborough Lights and they currently cost £8+ for 20 which is the equivalent of $13+ and fuck that). Also they were bringing in the smoking ban and I didn't fancy standing in the rain whenever I wanted one.

I kept smoking pure grass joints so I still got to keep some of the joy of inhaling and rolling and I figure as its only in the evenings it can't be as bad for me as smoking cigarettes all day long and it's not filled with chemicals and whatever. (And I'm happy to remain ignorant on these facts.) But I missed the social element, and having one as punctuation for a work task, chatting during smoke breaks and angrily waving it around during an argument. But after a while I totally forgot I used to be a smoker, didnt miss them, didnt care.

But this weekend, with my personal life in a bit of a mess, I called to a friend's and before the night was out I found myself smoking. And it was great and like I'd never stopped. I'm terrified of the current voice in my head that says "just buy one pack. New Year's around the corner, you can quit again..." That I still equate smoking with battling stress is kind of disappointing to me. And I'm gutted that my 6 year long - true - boast of "I quit cold turkey and never had a single one after that" has literally gone up in smoke.
posted by billiebee at 11:28 AM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not a smoker and never have been. My mom was, oh yes, right up until she died of metastasized lung cancer. I don't recalling her enjoying smoking, but I sure do remember how addicted she was. When you send your 10-year-old to the store with a note to try to buy cigarettes (unsuccessfully), you're addicted.
posted by tommasz at 11:28 AM on December 2, 2013


I just go make a nice black tea and quietly sip it for ten minutes. It's like taking a smoke break, but you get to sit on your ass, and when someone else comes by to chat they sit and stay a while.
posted by davejay at 12:07 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm the only person I'm blood related to who doesn't smoke (or at least the only one between the ages of 2 and 88). As far as I can remember, all of them started smoking in childhood, regardless of whether that childhood was in the 1950s or the 1990s. The difference is really that the younger ones are more likely to roll their own.

I like to have a cigarette now and again, maybe five or ten times a year. I lit up today though, in honor of this thread.

One for me, one for my homies.
posted by rue72 at 12:17 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I smoked for about twenty-five years, and finally quit four years ago. I'm glad I don't smoke now, though less because of the health and financial advantages (there are many) than because I hated that there was something I could not let go of, bad for me or not.

I understand the hole in your life that suddenly appears when you subtract smoking, and I still get the urge every so often, but in the end I've just got no desire to claw my way back out of that hole again.
posted by Mooski at 12:21 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Smoking was also the great metaphor. It was flexible. If you look at movies from about 40 years ago, notice how it was the handy prop for any number of scenes. Not only did it give a character something to do with his hands, the very technique the character displayed helped define him: ranging from the westerner who pulls the string on the tobacco pouch with his teeth while balancing the cigarette paper and its product with his hand/all the while he continues his discourse, his eyes steady on his partner in the scene. How many different ways can you define with that?: the old timer, the gunman the sheriff. Or Big Nose Kate.

Or the effete fellow in the tux, with the pencil mustache, lifting the smokes from his silver case and fitting one into the long, black holder, while the waiter hovers at his elbow with the lighter.

Or Bogart, who dangles the manly unfiltered cigarette from the corner of his mouth. The lady with hair piled on top her head waiting to be lighted.

And so on.

That's just some of the literary tropes. The myth of this weed covers a lot of ground: it gets your going, it calms you down, it gives you something to do with your hands, etc. Too bad it also eats your lungs.

Sometime during the past 30 years, anti-smoking campaigns have shifted the paradigm, and the change, is significant. The difference is in the revised definition of freedom. People still have a "right" to smoke, but the version we work with now is that they don't have a right to intrude on those who don't like it. The change is not universally applied, but it's enforced in certain places by law, and yet other places by the growing assumption that smokers are the intruders on personal space.

I don't let smokers light up in my house. I keep a butt can out on the porch for those who need a fix. I growl at them if they step out to the driveway and leave their butts on the ground. They don't get to smoke in my car, and I make no accommodation for them when I'm traveling. I do this without apology for inconveniencing them.

I was a smoker for longer than I've been a non-smoker, and I'm sympathetic to the way the addiction works. I quit several times. I've been tobacco free for um about 15 years now. I had jones bouts for several years after I quit, but I stood fast, and now it's just another stinking habit; I don't whine about it, but I do wrinkle my nose when I walk past the fronts of buildings where the smokers come to do their filthy habit, a blanket of butts on the ground and that acrid, pungent after-odor that clings to the walls, envelopes me, and seeps into my skin like mustard gas. I pass a smoker on the sidewalk, his clothes and hair reeking, but I don't cast an evil eye on him. He's unaware of my smuggery, and I am unaware of all the details regarding his delicate framework of rationalizations, the myriad resolutions to quite that he's made over the years. I'm sure he passes them out at every family gathering, when he has to excuse himself from the table to go outside for a fix--yeah deal me in, he says, I'll be right back..... Yeah, he says, I'm gonna quit. See I bought these e-smokes, but right now I just want to finish off this carton. I know how it works, the panic that will set in when the last pack dwindles to a mere couple of cigarettes, and he will wheel his vehicle into the parking lot to get more before he runs out. He will carefully forget to remember to quit until after he pays for the carton.

One of my issues with tobacco is that I developed a minor case of COPD from using it. I have engaged my right to assume that all that weed I smoked contributed to the COPD. I can do that because I can no longer tolerate smoking weed, either. It's my rationalization, and I'll stick by it.
posted by mule98J at 12:29 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a social smoker that can go months or years without lighting up but every now and then I get that "My god, I want a cigarette right now" feeling. Nothing else like em and I totally get why they're so addicting because if I got in the habit, I'd never break it.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:29 PM on December 2, 2013


Yeah, I just quit smoking about 2 months ago. I previously quit for about the same amount of time. I think I'll always love and miss it.
posted by kbennett289 at 12:30 PM on December 2, 2013


rifflesby: ""Hi, can I bum a smoke? Actually, keep it -- I quit, but I don't have any other conversation starters. Ha ha, yeah. So what's your name?""

That'd be nice, but I think it wouldn't replicate the joy of smoking talk. I suspect that what makes those conversations really good is that they don't have to happen, since everyone there would be outside smoking anyway. Approaching someone with the express purpose of having a conversation raises the stakes back up to what they usually are everywhere else, and I think that would ruin it for me if I were on either end.

I was lucky to never have an intensely addictive response to nicotine, but even a three cigarette a day habit felt like it was destroying my apparently sensitive respiratory system, so I pretty much only smoke a cigarette once every two months now. I sure do miss the social side effects, though.
posted by invitapriore at 12:48 PM on December 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


August 19, 2013.

Stubbed out a smoke on the way into the vape store.

Haven't lit another one.

Never thought I'd say that.

Switching from cigs to vape was easy, painless, zero hassle. I buy a tobacco-flavored juice and a coffee-flavored juice. When mixed, each drag tastes like that first cig of the day, you know, the only one you really enjoyed, anyway.

I never thought I'd quit smoking. Never.

And it was so easy it feels like cheating.

Switch to the vape, fellow smokers. You will feel better and have more money in your pocket.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:59 PM on December 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


Learning how to meditate helps.

Some. Smoking itself is a very mindful activity though. The feel and sound of a new pack opening, the various smells, the tapping and other rituals. All done with focus.

I haven't smoked for nearly two decades and I know that if I ever have even one, I'm done for. Thank goodness for smoking bans, or I'd never go out at night at all.
posted by headnsouth at 1:15 PM on December 2, 2013


I love smoking. Since I never picked it up when I was a kid, I've never really developed an addiction to cigarettes (unlike other the other addictions that managed to rope me in). Every now and then I buy a fancy pack, smoke half of it, then throw out/give away the second half because it's been a week and they've gone stale.
posted by item at 1:15 PM on December 2, 2013


I quit 5+ years ago after reading that Easyway book. I can't even stand the smell now. I didn't even start smoking until I was a senior in college. I never actually liked smoking, but trust me to go for the adolescent desire to fit in 6 years too late, and it was something to do with your hands at parties, the cool people on my jobs smoked, the cool people in all my activities outside of work smoked... If I went through 2 packs in a week, that was heavy to me. Can't believe they're almost $15 a pack here in NYC now.

What got me to quit was, of all things, hearing Joni Mitchell attempt to sing Chelsea Morning at some televised public event. Soprano, mezzo, alto, contralto, gone, gone, gone, gone. My jaw actaully dropped watching her. It had been a point of pride to me as a kid when I could hit all the notes of Big Yellow Taxi like a boss, so to hear how awful her voice sounded was a shock. Granted, I think she's got (or had) a two-pack a day habit for over 30 years, but even so, I do adore my singing voice and I didn't want to lose the highs I can still reach. Seeing her croaking on national television hit home to me what I could lose if I kept smoking, so I got the book out of the library, read it, and I was done.
posted by droplet at 1:16 PM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


The sad looks from my partner after her father passed away from small cell lung cancer finally nudged me to try vaping to break a 18-year pack-a-day habit. Going to the B&M eJuice store and browsing over selections like 'Gingerbread Cookie' or 'Marzipan' made be feel like a dufus but I gave some flavors a try. It was silly but I eventually came to enjoy the Rasperry Cremes and Hawaiian Punch-knockoffs

Two weeks later I was having drinks with friends and the battery ran out on my eGo, I panicked. A buzz really amplifies the 'need'. I rationalized buying a pack of American Spirit blues because I had been 'such a good boy' staying away from them. I really missed the ritual of packing them, struggling with the zipper wrapper and snapping that aluminized paper flap off. The smell of sugarcane-cured tobacco was amazing. With my newly purchased lighter (a smoker would sooner leave their keys at home than be caught without a Bic) I lit the end and heard that familiar crackle from my own personal mouth-fireplace and inhaled.

It was awful. The taste was of the ashtray from ten-thousand casinos. The flavor you get when you smoke while nursing a cold. When you pull past the logo on the stick and the filter surrenders its tar. It was the worst. I tried to finish it but failed, it was the taste of freedom.

Every so often I bum a cigarette from my analog smoker friends, try a puff or two.

Yep, still awful. I sometimes miss how good they used to taste but know that will never come back.

btw you can find a 20% off on eCig Reddit sub for Vapor Chef good till Monday tonight, their Apple Bourbon Tobacco and Funky Monkey are amazing.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:24 PM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Top tip: if you ever want to quit but are struggling for motivation go and stand in one of those little, yellow ceilinged, air conditioned smoking rooms in airports for more than 5 minutes.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:26 PM on December 2, 2013


There's an episode of the Judge John Hodgeman podcast where he mentions this scene from Wings of Desire as being responsible for a smoking habit that continued several years longer than it should have. You might not want to watch it, actually. Columbo is making an awfully strong case.
posted by velebita at 1:27 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I quit 15 years ago. I never understood people who say they don't miss it. I also don't understand people who say they gave it up without much psychic upheaval. There are some situations where it is just not possible for me not to smoke and it's immediately obvious to me I could be a pack a day smoker again *tomorrow.* I figure there's some kind of gene for it and I got it.

Not smoking never gets easier, you just get more used to telling youself "no".
posted by Random Person at 1:28 PM on December 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


2 months, 10 days smoke-free and goddammit why am I reading this thread?
posted by naoko at 1:29 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is what you want. I hope the next generation has Bluetooth. Just because, really.
posted by planetesimal at 1:29 PM on December 2, 2013


$250 and you have to deal with actual tobacco? Good lord no.

Buy this, or this if you're a heavy enough smoker that you need two batteries (one to smoke with while the other charges). Charge it up, screw the cartridge on, and go. Buy more cartridges as needed or check out ecblendflavors.com if you want to explore liquids later (they're cheaper and have wider flavor options). Dead simple.
posted by rifflesby at 1:38 PM on December 2, 2013


> Dead simple.

I guess, but I wouldn't be surprised if long term studies eventually show that heavy inhalation of vaporized propylene glycol is any better than cigarette smoke. At least the big manufacturers aren't really implying that vaporizing is any healthier than smoke anymore. Besides, loading up loose leaf is really not much more troubling than dealing with little cartridges, and gives you greater, um, flexibility.
posted by planetesimal at 1:45 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


For me, on December 17th (I remember the date!) it'll be 4 years since I quit. But to reiterate what's been said by all the ex-smokers here: man, I do miss it. My wife used to smoke as well, a decade ago, but she was a pretty light smoker, and quit pretty easily. Now she detests the smell of smoke, whereas I still like the smell, most of the time anyway.

The only time I find myself wanting a cigarette is when I do some really epic amount of work, like really busy day at the office and I feel tied down but then I finish and the clouds break and the sun shines down and YAY! And that's when I want a smoke. So I have to consciously say to myself "no, you *don't* want a smoke."

I cheat every now and then with a cigar, but even without inhaling those things are so damn strong--might as well chew tobacco. Thinking of getting a hookah/shisha, as the tobacco used in those is (apparently) nicotine-free.
posted by zardoz at 1:48 PM on December 2, 2013




I smoked for years. I would quit for a few weeks at a time occasionally, but I always went back. For me, smoking cured everything; it could be anything I needed it to be. I could celebrate, mourn, fume, and daydream. It was proof that I existed: I was interacting with my environment and leaving evidence, all the while putting forth pretty much the least amount of physical effort possible. It was an excuse to sit and look at things. I could sit and stare into the middle distance and think to myself all I wanted because I was still doing something: I was smoking.

This is basically my explanation for why so many people find it difficult to tear themselves from their smartphones during "idle time."
posted by duffell at 1:56 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I inhaled one small puff of a cigarette in the attic of my best friend's house when I was 9. I coughed my lungs inside out & almost threw up. Tobacco was not my friend.

Both my parents smoked, as did all my older sisters at one time or another. I envied the smoke break crowd & would hang with them occasionally to get the hell out of the office and relax.

I was a light pot smoker through high school & college.

Weirdly, I routinely dream that I smoke Marlboro lights. I think it is that envy of how stupidly cool smoking looks. It's the only time you can see your own breath, except when it's cold. That is cool, to me.

I can't imagine, though, what a smoking addiction is like. The thought of something that drives you to destroy your health willfully, that you can't control, that isn't really a choice for most people (it sounds like) seems pretty scary & unfun.
posted by yoga at 1:59 PM on December 2, 2013


> New study confirms that chemicals in electronic cigarettes pose minimal health risk

Sure, but let's review the data again in 30 years when you have a large sample of people that have been vaping daily for decades. Even light use can cause dry/sore throat, so it's not going out very far on a limb to say that there's a potential for cumulative effects beyond one-time exposure.
posted by planetesimal at 2:00 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I switched my mix to 50/50 Vegetable Glycerin/Propylene Glycol; somehow it seems healthier. Unfortunately pure VG is really thick and it fucks with the device. Anyway, I reckon I smoke more now than when I was rolling my own "real" butts up until September 2012. It's just so easy and not a problem indoors.
posted by gman at 2:07 PM on December 2, 2013


I like a 50/50 too. Enough VG that you get good smoke rings, and enough PG that it's not too thick, and it hits you in the back of the throat.

The dry mouth thing is a thing, but it's just plain dehydration. People don't drink enough water anyway.
posted by rifflesby at 2:10 PM on December 2, 2013


> The dry mouth thing is a thing, but it's just plain dehydration. People don't drink enough water anyway.

Ok, but let's not pretend that vaping is not going to cause similar health problems as cigarettes. E-cigs/vaporizers are just a hell of a lot less nasty.
posted by planetesimal at 2:12 PM on December 2, 2013


New study confirms that chemicals in electronic cigarettes pose minimal health risk

Beyond nicotine, of course.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:13 PM on December 2, 2013


Nicotine really isn't a health risk. Well, unless you deny it to an addict and they become cranky and beat you.
posted by planetesimal at 2:13 PM on December 2, 2013


Well. I mean, I can't fault you for being careful. After all, "9 out of 10 doctors smoke Camels", as was once said. But to say "let's not pretend that vaping is not going to cause similar health problems as cigarettes" makes the assumption that we will eventually find vaping to be just as bad as cigs, and there's just no evidence for that. In fact, what he have right now shows them to be basically harmless, or maybe 1% as harmful as smoking. So without some evidence to the contrary, I can't get feared up about "but maybe they're wrong in the long term".
posted by rifflesby at 2:22 PM on December 2, 2013


I wasn't trying to fearmonger, but at the same time people seem to have some fanciful notions about the safety of something that there just isn't any long term data on.
posted by planetesimal at 2:24 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone should tell this guy you can celebrate, mourn, fume, and daydream with about a dozen drugs that are way funner.
posted by WhitenoisE at 2:37 PM on December 2, 2013


Someone correct me if I'm way off track, but I thought nicotine was the major component of cigarettes that contributes to heart disease (the most likely cause of cigarette related death). I don't understand why people think e-cigs are safe because they don't give you lung cancer or emphysema.

Again, maybe I'm totally wrong, but that's what I've been told by more than one doctor.
posted by WhitenoisE at 2:40 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


God when you start in adolescence that addiction scribes so deep in your brain. I can honestly say I don't miss it. About ten years of completely absurd on-again, off-again chipping, buying packs and smoking like three and throwing them away - subscribing briefly and idiotically to some vagrant "I'll be able to cope with regular but sparse smoking with THIS clever schedule" scheme and remembering some weeks later "oh yes - this. This nastiness and stench and feeling shit and always this itch of more more another another." And quitting again and quitting again and quitting again... Finally burned out every unsuspected shred and modicum of romanticism I had left with it.

Left with what it is, a trashy compulsive addiction to crude, manufacturing-process-revved-up plant stimulants. No better or different from any junkie, any tweaker, or mouthwash drinking gutter drunk. Nothing I ever loved, nothing that was ever any part of me that was worth a damn, and oh boy in no way shape or form any kind of "cure" for anything. The only thing that amazes me more than how the extraction of cigarettes from my life leaves me with precisely nothing positive missing is the fact that the latent addiction is still very much present in my brain - quiescent now, tamed, but every so often I'll have a dream, or a scare, and remember - oh yeah, there you are. The lie. Signifying nothing but the dreadful pliability of adolescent brain chemistry and the power of a stimulant addiction heavily reinforced by a punishing dose schedule, a somewhat theatrical delivery system and a whole lot of social programming courtesy of certain billionaires.

I'm very grateful I launched what I very much hope and intend is my terminal abstinence before the e-cigs quite took off in the mainstream. Or I'm sure it would have been another ten years of fooling around with that nonsense. I imagine they will prove to be considerably less damaging than cigarettes, myself - though if you see no scientific evidence of possible health risks out there you're just choosing not to really look - but the thing is, at this point, it's as much about beating the addiction to me as it is about avoiding the health risks. That and the fact that as sure as hell if I followed all the money back I'd find I was just putting another dollar in the pockets of the billionaires who killed my dad. Which is one dollar too many, ever again.
posted by nanojath at 2:47 PM on December 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


Nicotine really isn't a health risk.

Wikipedia at least indicates nicotine causes high blood pressure and heart disease. But I guess so does cheese.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:50 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whenever I smell cigarette smoke, I think of talking to my father in the garage as he puffs away, in the middle of winter, filling his man-cave with threads of smoke. We've had good conversations, but they'd be better if they weren't in a smoke filled garage.
posted by lineofsight at 3:05 PM on December 2, 2013


what it is, a trashy compulsive addiction to crude, manufacturing-process-revved-up plant stimulants. No better or different from any junkie, any tweaker, or mouthwash drinking gutter drunk

I can only speak for me, but the "void" that the article title refers to equates (to me) with the concept of the addict's "hole in the soul". Every junkie, every "gutter drunk", has a sadness somewhere inside. I know I did. I don't think smokers are necessarily any different, its just a socially acceptable addiction. If you quit and you don't fill it with something else it'll come back eventually, same as any addiction.
posted by billiebee at 3:09 PM on December 2, 2013


> Wikipedia at least indicates nicotine causes high blood pressure and heart disease. But I guess so does cheese.

Yeah, it's kind of vague in Wikipedia. But nicotine is linked to those disorders as an aggravating factor, not as a sole cause. Actual exercise probably mitigates that risk substantially. But again, since nicotine patches and gums haven't been around for as long as smoking, there isn't as much data on its effects as a standalone chemical versus being ingested with cigarette smoke.
posted by planetesimal at 3:30 PM on December 2, 2013


I think a majority of users recognize e-cigs as harm reduction only, and while there are dedicated hobbyists I would guess that they are part of a step-down process for the vast majority of users, even though the FDA has dug in hard against classifying them as a cessation device.

I mean yes, there are people who are all NUH UH ITS 100% SAFE MY COUSIN TOLD ME, but I'm guessing most users are like me, figuring it's got to be less completely awful and more likely to have an end point than the real thing.

It's just that the e-cigs give you so much more control than the other options. Smoking, though also habitual/ritualistic, is ultimately a craving->satisfaction cycle. Patches take the edge off the craving, but there's no resolution. Lozenges and gum are hard to use if you have gum/tooth/jaw issues, and they taste bad and - at least in my experience - make you feel oversmoked.

The actual quitting process - the last time I quit for 6 months with e-cigs and this time, which is 6 months 1 day and counting - has been instant and truly almost entirely effortless, not unpleasant, just fiddly enough to be a hassle sometimes, and completely reassuringly in my control. Nothing has managed the anxiety of quitting and the mild discomfort of slowly stepping down like the e-cigs have. I expect to be off all nicotine by my year quit date, and I figure a year of use after 17 years of 1-2 packs a day is probably the least of my concerns.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:33 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's kind of amazing to think that in the 1980s my high school (in Texas) actually had a designated smoking area for the students. It was heavily used and nobody bothered them. I had to look up how this was even legal, but then I hit references to the "Synar Amendment" of 1992, which I guess must have been when access to tobacco by minors was cracked down on.
posted by crapmatic at 4:14 PM on December 2, 2013


Yep my Maryland high school had designated smoking areas in the '80s too. And my first writing job was for a K Street law firm in the early '90s, where they supplied me with an electric smoke-sucking ashtray.
posted by headnsouth at 4:26 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


1980s my high school (in Texas) actually had a designated smoking area

Mine did, too, and the Jesuits who ran the place would be out there smoking, too.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 4:26 PM on December 2, 2013


Late arrivers to e-cigs, at least you didn't deal with the first few generations - the tiny batteries with their tiny, recessed cartridges. The endless leakage and the endless polyfill. The 801 with its enormous tank that never wicked worth a damn. Coils burned because the cart wouldn't wick. A small toolkit of spares, bent paper clips, tweezers, all coated in a permanent grease of leaked poison. Never enough wattage.
posted by wotsac at 4:47 PM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


My dad started smoking at 14 - that's 50+ years ago. I've seen him try to quit at least a dozen times in my lifetime. Even when he'd get past the short-term chemical withdrawal, the habits associated with smoking had become so ingrained into his everyday life that he always went back to smoking quite quickly. Maybe if he'd been able to change his entire life, go off to a commune or something, it might have been different.

Tomorrow, he has his last radiation treatment for stage IV squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, with primary tumors in his throat - well, last treatment until we get the results of the PET scan in three months. I haven't been able to bring myself to ask if he quit during treatment. I hope he did, and I hope that this time, it sticks.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 4:55 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


In 1985 the junior high school I attended (Arbutus) had a smoking area in the woods behind the school called "The Hole." Arbutus Junior High at the time was very much like something out of the movie the River's Edge, so I changed schools. My new junior high (which I liked very much) had a smoking area called "The Hill" on a dirt track behind the school. My high school had a smoking area called "The Breezeway." My high school history teacher used to smoke ciggies with one of the physics teachers in the janitor's closet.

Of course, I had to look up whatever happened to my old history teacher, and was reminded that he died about 10 years after I graduated. I then I was led to the obits some other teachers from my high school. Damn.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:03 PM on December 2, 2013


My boyfriend has quit for 1 1/2 years after smoking for something like 20 years, and he was able to do it using e-cigs - and I am so damn thankful for that. The difference is amazing, he's healthier, and so am I - and the house is so much cleaner.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:14 PM on December 2, 2013


nanojath you pulled an Emerson on me...

I no longer recall the date I quit, but it was early 1996 - we had just made plans for a surf trip to Costa Rica and I swore I would not die paddling out... June on the Guanacaste Peninsula, I survived, made several trips since, and continually plan more - to more exotic locations with all the $$ I'm saving
posted by ElGuapo at 7:17 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Habits inside of habits, with a crafty touch.

And fire!
posted by sneebler at 7:25 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am wearing a Step 3 nicotine patch right now. I was clean for almost a year and then I caved in. Four more days and my four week short course of patches is over.

I remember back around 1980, the office I worked in had some controversy about smoking (specifically, me smoking like a chimney). I did a little research and found a study by a recruiting company, their clients demanded a scientific answer as to the effect of smoking on productivity. So they watched smokers through their entire days of work, recording their every action. After months of research, they published their results. The first finding was that people who smoke in the office do one thing more than anything else: they smoke. But they were almost always doing a work task while smoking, so smoking did not actually take away any work time. Their conclusion was that smoking slightly increased worker's productivity, since it gave them a slight stimulant, and mostly kept them at their desk next to their ashtray.

Of course this is completely impossible now. If I smoked in the office today like I did in the 1980s, there would be huge fights and probably police would be called. But I have used that study to help me quit. You have to separate smoking from routine tasks. You can't smoke while driving, while having a cup of coffee, or whatever you habitually do when smoking. If you want to smoke, just go outside, light up, and do nothing but smoke. Be present in the moment and completely focus on your smoking. Then get it over with and completely forget about it. This will make smoking a separate activity that is less psychologically associated with other triggers (well that's my theory anyway).

If you want to quit, I highly recommend Alan Carr's "The Easy Way to Quit Smoking." It will help tremendously. And then you will fail. So you get the followup book, "The Only Way to Quit Smoking." It says, of course you failed. The easy way doesn't work for most people, now you have to do it the hard way. The only way to quit smoking is to stop smoking. Period. He recommends cold turkey (that's a little too hardcore for me). And remind yourself that you can never have a cigarette, ever. One smoke, and you are back to a lifetime of "filth and disease" (that's his wording).
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:26 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mom's been quit for over a decade now; I don't think I've ever been so damn proud of another human being in my life. I know it's one of the hardest things she's ever done.

That seems to be the message I think a lot of young people never get - the only sure way to quit is to never start. Personally, living with two chainsmokers in my formative years was enough to last me a lifetime, and I never had the desire to pick a cigarette up myself.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:30 PM on December 2, 2013


See, I hate that because I wake up and think I broke down and started smoking again the night before until I realize it was a dream.

Oh god, 7 years on and this still happens. Not only that but in the dream, I remember smoking in my other dreams from months and years ago, and it helps me justify my current dream smoking. This addiction shit is crazy.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 7:44 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm glad I managed to straight-up quit after 14 years in 2003, long before this e-cig stuff happened. I recognize it is a stepping stone for a lot of people, but the sleazily intentional way it's marketed as an easy change and promoted as an ongoing recreational habit just mirrors exactly the strategies the tobacco industry devised to keep me addicted to real cigarettes. I really enjoy not being addicted to anything, and though it took me about 6 or 7 tries, that last one stuck, and that's all I need.

I can romanticize smoking, too, but many of the positive feelings were really just the initial rush of staving off withdrawal, making everything associated with that sensation seem bathed in a warm glow. It was the drug. I honestly don't miss it, and it's not because I wasn't seriously addicted. It took me several years to be able to say that, but I crossed some kind of bridge and now it seems impossibly foreign to me.
posted by Miko at 7:47 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another altrenative is snus, a smokeless tobacco that originated in Sweden. It's better than dip because you can swallow while using it, and not need a disgusting spit cup. It's what helped me quit a yearslong almost two pack a day habit. Cheaper than cigarettes, too.
posted by old_growler at 8:21 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Almost a year now, and I still find myself reaching blindly sideways on the desk hand tap tap tapping to reach for my pack of Drum like an amputee feeling an itch thats not there.
posted by Chagall's Neglected Dog at 8:26 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I went for a walk before dinner in the beautiful wooded park near our house and smelled the beautiful skunky smell of marijuana. That's a nice smell.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:33 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This rang so true to me on so many levels. I cringed when she said she had "one."

I can't risk playing around with "just one." For me, control is a myth I learned many times before quitting finally 'took' about a dozen years ago. It would be so easy for me to be seduced right back up to a pack a day. Like great makeup sex with a bad-for-me guy who would slip back into abusive ways in a matter of days. And then there would be such hell to pay to escape from that cruel grip again.

This is how insidious addiction can be: I truly wondered how I would ever enjoy life again without smoking. Ludicrous, I knew in my brain, but that was the very real feeling in my bones. For quite a long while, I thought I'd need to find a new career because I had so much trouble writing - as if the smoke was the muse on my shoulder or the ink in my pen. I also felt curiously lonely for quite a while when cigarettes left my life.

Today, I am so glad to have that monkey off my back. Besides the health threat, it seems messy, expensive and inconvenient. I've lost the craving but I would be lying if I didn't admit to occasionally feeling a vague, ghostlike whisper of loss ... a missing space that nothing else has ever quite filled. Yes, it's a horrible, vicious little monkey, but it can occasionally still look intriguing to me because -- monkeys!!

I've really related to so many of the thoughts expressed in this thread, I feel like I am hanging outside on a work break talking to "my people."

To those of you newly quit, good for you and hang in there. To those of you thinking of quitting: life really does get enjoyable again post smoking. It really, really does. And if not, as klarck said, you can go back to it at 80.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:35 PM on December 2, 2013


By the way, if you live near Boston and you are a hardcore smoker and you think you can never quit, remember this name and address: Yefim Shubentsov, Brookline, MA - aka "the Mad Russian." More about my experience with him in this comment.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:45 PM on December 2, 2013


a dozen drugs that are way funner

Nicotine is a really special drug in this respect: you can get the most marvelous buzz from it and still be in a clear-headed state. In my 20s, Djarum Internationals were my drug of choice. No more than 2-3 a day but those unfiltered cloves always hit with such a beautiful severity, a sort of chemical version of the best rough sex. But, no matter how strong the buzz, how wild the good feelings, you were still in a state where you could converse easily with others and could still operate heavy machinery.

I haven't found another drug like it. Pot is fine as long as I can stay in for the evening and no one will try speaking with me. Acid was great when you had a weekend to completely give over to it and it's aftermath. Shrooms are a milder acid. Alchohol is great for the first round or two and then it very quickly just gets disgusting, not to mention the day after. Haven't tried coke or opiates so can't really speak to them.

Nicotine alone gives you a wakeful buzz but leaves you in control of yourself. Pity the substance is so addictive because, in every other respect, it's probably the perfect recreational drug. Doesn't make people violent or lazy, doesn't cause impaired driving, and doesn't ruin your conversational skills.
posted by honestcoyote at 11:33 PM on December 2, 2013


The third time I tried to quit, my wife sent me home early from work because I was cranky. I unlocked the door at my house and my dog ran to her bed. I called wife to inquire whether dog had done something bad that morning. She said "It's you. You've been a jerk all day. Go buy some cigarettes." Sigh.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 12:59 AM on December 3, 2013


Let me shout out for Champix.

I used to smoke two packs of Benson and Hedges a day -- for close to forty years -- and when I couldn't smoke, I'd be sucking on a nicotine lozenge. I'd go to bed with a nicquitin in my mouth to save having to wake up to smoke multiple times through the night.

None of the nicotine replacement therapies helped worth a damn. They just gave me something to use in the places where I wasn't allowed to smoke. Champix was easy and painless. No cravings whatsoever.

Today, I run a two seater sports car on the money I've saved from not smoking for the last two years.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:33 AM on December 3, 2013


@madamjujujive, I know two people the Mad Russian cured of smoking. Kinda wish I still smoked so I could see him.
posted by old_growler at 6:38 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read this thread just to get to the point were I could say something, but now I figure it's probably too late and the people who I'd like to see this message will not get this far.

But just in case:

I stopped smoking after reading the easy way book you've heard mentioned already in the above. It was a little crazy for a couple of weeks, but liberating even in that time. Since getting free of it I would never even think about getting back into that way of life.

Please don't be discouraged by the people talking about still craving cigarettes fourteen years later... that type of romantic attachment to smoking is a personal choice they are making. They cannot get past the addictive mindset and don't want to. Anyone thinking about it clearly is aware that smoking does nothing for them at all. Its not relaxing, doesn't help you do anything, doesn't make you more anything except ill and poor.

I remember when I was thinking about quitting, how afraid I was. So I went online to try and get help.

I read a pile of Askme's about "quitting" smoking, I remember how horrible I'd felt reading people's stories about perpetual craving, about never really being able to stop, going months and months and then deciding to smoke again for the most stupid reasons... I felt terrible but also sort of relieved to know it was too hard to stop. Part of me needed an excuse not to try to stop, being afraid of living a life of always needing a smoke.

In one of those Askme's I luckily stumbled over a reference to Allen Carr's book, which I downloaded and listened to in audiobook format... after listening to it once I stopped.

I listened to it over and over in those three weeks, to reinforce what I'd learned about smoking from him.

Let me just say to anyone who is doing what I did back then, and has read this far, you can stop smoking relatively easily and go through the rest of your life never even thinking about starting again.

You will hear people talk about missing it, and basically they are still in the process of stopping, working on whatever made them think they need to smoke when they really don't.

You are worried about what it will be like to go through the rest of your life needing a smoke, but the reality is that it doesn't feel that way.

I go through my life feeling like I just had a cigarette, a feeling of contentment I used to experience for ten minutes after every cigarette is now my baseline state of being.

That is what it is like. Imagine always smoking all the time for free everywhere and never experiencing any negative effect. That's what being a non-smoker is like.

No offense to people who are just sharing how it feels to them, I know addiction is complicated. I'm just adding my 2 cents specifically targeting a reader thinking about stopping.
posted by ServSci at 7:44 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I go through my life feeling like I just had a cigarette, a feeling of contentment I used to experience for ten minutes after every cigarette is now my baseline state of being.

I love this. Very poetic.
posted by rcraniac at 7:50 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mom describes her experience a lot like yours, ServSci. She did use the antidepressants to begin with, and they helped A LOT, but I think the biggest key for her was that she really, truly wanted to quit: she no longer enjoyed the aspects of smoking a lot of folks are fondly reminiscing about. She had things to occupy her time and people to spend her time with that smoking was interfering with rather than facilitating. She wanted her sense of smell and taste back. She had enough chronic health issues to maintain without risking adding any others. She did gain weight, but was able to lose it again.

The author of the article mentions how she was able to stay relatively comfortably quit during pregnancy and her daughter's early childhood because those motivations hit just the right spot in her brain. Everybody's different, of course, but my hope for everyone who's still struggling is that somehow they'll happen across that same spot.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:21 AM on December 3, 2013


They cannot get past the addictive mindset and don't want to.

Careful you don't lose your balance looking down your nose from such a superior position.
posted by headnsouth at 9:23 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


This thread is the reason I keep a tin of lozenges in my desk. I've been a quitter for longer than I've been a committed smoker. The smoke-free periods continue to lengthen and the periods of recidivism are shorter each time. Currently on the cusp of the last time I picked the habit up two years ago and am thus about four months away from my next two year anniversary.

My wife has chronic lung disease (not smoking related) and even with her as an example of where that road leads I've fallen off the wagon a few times. The romantic attachments, the accoutrements, and the momentary perception of relief are really powerful impressions on the lizard brain.

What started as a way to shirk physical labor every hour or so while in the military turned into an integral part of my neo Beat persona. I started on unfiltered because it disincentivized some of my fellow soldiers' bumming squares and eventually moved to rolling Drum (when I was poor) and Gauloises (when I was otherwise). One of my key rationalizations is that I am in control so long as I am not reduced to buying the cheapest on the shelf like those poor, truly addicted fools.

All of this to say I really enjoyed this post and the ensuing discussion. There is a lot more to quitting for some folks than others. On the other hand, quitting is still a better idea than not. The longing does fade and become more manageable over time. It never goes away (for me at least). From here on out I think I'm going to go with the idea of making it until I'm 80 and then allowing myself to start up again when things get tough. That and the lozenges anyway.
posted by Fezboy! at 9:29 AM on December 3, 2013


They cannot get past the addictive mindset and don't want to.

Careful you don't lose your balance looking down your nose from such a superior position.


the only thing worse than a non-smoker is a former smoker.
posted by Lucinda at 11:01 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


ServSci described my experience well, too. I didn't use Carr, I used the American Lung Association's free online program Freedom From Smoking (after a lot of other attempts using gum, drugs, cold turkey and a bunch of other strategies), and once I got through the tougher early years I felt the same way - free of the addicted up/down, need/satisfaction cycle. There really is a lot of romanticization of the addiction, and we credit it with a lot of powers it doesn't have.

She said "It's you. You've been a jerk all day. Go buy some cigarettes." Sigh.

Part of the method I used was just giving yourself total permission to go nuts for a little while. It really does make you irritable to be in withdrawal, and even after that, to constantly find yourself in emotional states that you have no idea what to do about without the habitual crutch/response you had for years. Other people can be supportive or can sabotage. It's a shame they have to go through it with us, but they do, or we just revert. In the end, the worst of the whole gig is a handful of weeks out of your life. Well worth it. Apart from the just the money saved, the ability to climb many flights of stairs, the ability to take a deep breath without coughing and other obvious benefits, I love just not having to factor in "Will I be able to smoke?" into every road trip, vacation, house visit, conference, workshop, new job, etc. It's good to be free.
posted by Miko at 1:49 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not needing to book a smoking room in a hotel!
Not being desperate to get off the plane when flying.

On the other hand, my ass complains. I don't get up to go smoke any longer.
posted by Goofyy at 6:50 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I fully and wholeheartedly second the above recommendation, by old_growler, that if you are trying to quit smoking, Swedish snus is the One True Path.

I smoked the equivalent of 1-2 packs a day, of roll-your-own cigarettes, for about 20 years. I tried to quit about a dozen times, using patches, e-cigarettes, gum, the Carr method, flavoured toothpicks (which, surprisingly, actually did help a bit, but not enough), and whatever other dumb shit I tried to get unhooked.

I found out, somehow, about snus, and on a whim ordered five or so random cans online. Ettan original portions were what convinced me that this was the way forward. I was able to quit smoking "cold turkey", so to speak, by switching to snus. Yes it is still tobacco, and yes it is still nicotine, and yes I am still addicted to nicotine (probably moreso), but:

1. I no longer smoke (no smoke!)

2. A can of snus lasts me two days and costs $5, which includes the shipping price from Sweden to Australia. A pack of smokes, which on average lasts me 1/3 of two days, costs $20 (savings!)

3. Snus is delicious (delicious!)

4. I have become more manly by ditching the cigarettes and using snus (manly!)

5. I no longer smoke (no smoke!)

6. Snus is Swedish, and history shows that the Swedes do literally everything better than literally any other race of people (Swedish!)

7. My lungs and complexion have cleared up significantly (healthsome!)

8. None of the weight gain that is typical of quitting smoking (slimmening!)

9. You can snus at your desk! And on the plane! And at the movies! And in the bar! (convenient!)

10. I no longer smoke (no smoke!)

Hit me up for more snus information, if you care to. I guarantee that this is the One True Path to living smokefree.

Snus! (snus!)
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:22 PM on December 8, 2013


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