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October 18, 2004

1 year nicotine-free anniversary

One year cigarette free.

I had my last cigarette on October 13th, 2003. hob1004smok.jpgIt was at Newark Airport, on the day that I landed from a Las Vegas trip with some friends. I quit for many reasons, one of those reasons was my father. Another reason was my health - I had a recourring cough, a dry cough, that wouldn't go away. A third reason was that I met a very beautiful girl who didn't like smokers.

I sought asylum from Marlboro Country after that.

I remember that for years I was adamant about smoking my cigarettes. I was resentful from my friends and my family would would try and guilt trip me into stop smoking. I wouldn't hear it. I was an addict, but didn't realize that I was an addict.

I kept telling myself I could quit "anytime I wanted to". Lies. Smoking a cigarette was, to me, like eating sugar. Can you take sugar out of your life? Of course - diabetics have to control their sugars and they do it everyday. But the problem is - that you miss sugar. You miss eating chocolate cake. You miss having baked cookies. You miss everything about sugar.

The same is with cigarettes. I loved a cigarette with coffee. I loved a cigarette after a big meal. I loved drinking and smoking cigarettes. I loved watching my Eagles and smoking at the bar. I loved a smoke after sex - ok, who am I kidding? Well for the few times that happened it sure was nice!

The thought of not having cigarettes in my life made me think that a certain 'joy' in my life would be gone, and since I was a selfish addict - I wasn't ready to take that out of my life. I would always think "I'll do it next week..." or "[Enter Holiday Name Here] is coming up, and I gotta smoke during that holiday!"

Quitting has turned me into a Non-Smoking Nazi. I'm the guy who can't stand when people smoke around him. I'm the guy who will get in his friends faces telling them why smoking is for losers and addicts. I shouldn't do it, but it is my nature. I am competitive and arguementative - I like winning intellectual arguements. I like to be right. I'm opinionated, and will stand on my pulpit and force my sermon down the throats of those around me.

So that is something I need to work on. Tolerance. I need to take a step back and realize that people will quit when they are ready to quit. Just like when I used to get angry at people in my life when they were annoying me with their "just quit" remarks.

The time was right for me. When its right for you, here is some advice I have put on the chatboard...

My first time I had a cigarette, I was 11 years old living in Richboro. A friend of my older brother was a cigarette smoker, his name was Steve Blake. Blake was a tough guy in the neighborhood, he was 14; a somewhat larger 14 year old punk-kid who always wore a blue jean jacket and smoked. His parents either didn't care that he was a smoker or didn't smack him around enough to get him to care.

Kevin, my brother, had a little gang of 14 year old pals and I was the little twerp who wanted to be cool & with those guys. Funny thing is that my brother didn't smoke cigarettes. He was the athlete of the family, and he just never smoked like the other kids did. One day Blake was sitting with me in the neighborhood and we were alone sitting on a curb.

He turns to me and says "Hey, wanna learn how to smoke a cigarette?"

So of course I want to learn - all the older kids were smoking and I wanted to be cool. He demonstrates, putting the cigarette in his mouth - breathing in and breathing out and says "Ok, put the cigarette in your mouth and do the same thing. Just take a drag like you are taking a breath of air."

Its monkey-see-monkey-do. I take the cigarette, put it in my mouth. Breathe in. Breathe out.

He is staring at me like a doctor waiting for a reaction. I look back at him wondering what he is staring at.

"What the hell?", he exclaimed, "You didn't even cough!"

I shrugged and took another drag, breathing in. Breathing out. It came to me naturally. I was oddly proud of myself, thinking that I was some kind of tough guy. That was until my head started to spin.

"Ok, no more cigarettes for you...", Blake said as he snatched the cigarette from my hand. "That's a head rush, it is why everyone smokes...you get a rush from smoking and feel dizzy."

"I don't feel so good.", I said.

"You get used to it. Good job, man.", he clapped me on the back and smiled.

So that is how it started - one kid teaching another kid how to smoke. I wanted to be "cool" so I started. Realistically I smoked every once in a blue moon, usually when Kevin wasn't around - because he used to stop me from smoking. Good brother, there.

Eventually high school hit and that is how a lot of other people learned how to smoke. For me, it was an old habit. I was immediately "cool" with the other preppy kids at LaSalle High School. There was a checklist of things that a preppy kid at LaSalle needed: Money, Clothes, Smokes, Jeep. I got all 4. Lunch breaks having smokes and kicking the hackeysack.

College rolled around and this is when my habit became, well, a habit. I joined NROTC (Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, for those living under a rock), and anyone who has been in the military knows - everyone smokes. Its kind of like one day one the Staff Sergeant says, "Here is your uniform, son. Here are your smokes. DROP AND GIVE ME 20!"

Then, I joined a fraternity. At Villa-no-fun, you had to join a frat, be in a sport or be in ROTC - or your social life was in bad shape. I was in NROTC and Delta Tau Delta (Whats up, my Stevens peeps?) and it was college - everyone drank and everyone smoked.

What started as social smoking turned into a daily habit. Then a nightly habit. Pretty soon, I was smoking every day. But it never got to the point where I would wake up and "want" a smoke. Usually it was more of an early afternoon habit, and certainly a drinking habit.

Then I moved up to Ho-Smokin. Yea - lots of people smoked here. Plus with the whole bar scene it was cool to smoke. Smoking cigarettes was like having a tattoo. You walk into a bar, light up a smoke and grab a beer - you look cool - or at least I thought I looked cool.

Until I started to meet women who were anti smokers.

I never met any anti smokers in college. At Villanofun everyone smoked or if you didn't smoke no one really said anything. Plus - you were young and whatever, so smoking was just the thing to do like drinking and hooking up.

At first these girls were few and far between, but there were a lot of girls who I met who said "Oh, I won't go out with a smoker." I didn't care - there were a lot of other women to meet. Plus, I didn't want to stop my addiction.

As I got older, my interest in smoking waned. I knew it was bad for me and I knew that years of doing this wasn't helping. Also the youthful exuberance of "I'd rather die young than fade away" mentality was changing into "Actually i'd rather live a long life, thanks than die when i'm 25 - because i'm 25 next week..."

I kept putting off quitting or I would stop for a few months and then start again. Even when my father first got cancer, I kept smoking. I remember that he quit at 30, so in my mind I was going to quit at 30. My 30th birthday passed and I was still trucking along while my father got sicker and sicker. I didn't want my habit to stop.

I broke free of its grip a little over a year ago. My only regret for stopping is that I wish I never started. Maybe then I wouldn't be such an asshole to those people around me who smoke and it would have made "certain relationships" much easier. They say you can't change who you are - but I'm tryin' to make myself a better person, inside and out...

Posted by Furey at October 18, 2004 9:48 AM

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Comments

I loved this info. I hate to say I told you girls don't like guys who smoke. I'm very proud and happy for you :) xoxoxomom

Posted by: Mom at October 20, 2004 7:01 AM

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