Maybe It’s Time To Quit Smoking

The first time I smoked a cigarette was in jest. It happened on a humid summer night when I was a week away from leaving for my freshman year of college. I was with a childhood friend who had smoked forever and the process felt safe, almost childlike. When your first experience with a cigarette is with someone you’re sure “would never die from it,” you feel like you’re merely joking around, as if it will have no further attraction to you other than being a form of entertainment for someone who guessed you’d never actually do it.

At first, I viewed my benign experience comically. I didn’t desire it afterward, and given the fact I hadn’t even inhaled the smoke, I had no negative response to it. The entire event was apathetical, lacking both appeal and disgust. I thought it would all end there.

My second time was while at college that following fall. I went to a private school in the Blue Ridge Mountains and was immediately inducted into a hipster group of progressive types. Sitting on dusty porches and tattered hammocks, we’d spend chilly nights drinking red wine and pretending our discussions on Derrida and existentialism were more poignant when spoken with tobacco breath. This is where I inhaled for the first time and felt altered by the process of smoking. Essentially, this is where smoking became real to me.

I was deeply intrigued by these people’s habits. Smoking made life more profound, more something. It made sunrises gripping and drives to class feel like a Kerouac monologue. Later I’d learn these feelings mainly stemmed from wanting to belong to this group. I wanted to live as they did, free and raw. Unfortunately, it took health risks to obtain such a status, and when I smoked eight cigarettes in a three-hour period, I soon realized the pain attached to the habit was excruciatingly not worth it. Of course once I sobered up, I was cool with it again — in moderation.

My newly formed pastime lasted the year and subsided when I took up with a group that didn’t feel as drawn to American Spirits. Eventually, I became detached again — content in my not partaking. But this phase lasted a bleak year or so before the habit became something entirely more integral in my life.

Once again, my group changed. These people weren’t “smokers,” but they weren’t resentful of those who were, either. It started with hookah, puffing in flavored air that made me feel light. Then I took up with cloves. Smoking cloves was difficult in that they practically last forever and if you ever get sick off one, you can never eat pumpkin pie again without semi-associating it to that one time you tried to throw up your breath.

Cloves transitioned into American Spirits again, but on a minor level. I wouldn’t finish a pack for weeks, sometimes months, at a time. I very literally was a social smoker. Unlike my freshman year, I wasn’t doing it to be somebody, but rather to connect to a moment others were experiencing. If others were doing it, I’d join in, but it wasn’t necessary in my every day life. Until I was driving around Georgetown one afternoon and lit a cigarette, finding the Bon Iver song I was listening to sounded about a million times better having the bleak high off tobacco.

This stimulated my smoking habit and soon I was buying packs with the intention of finishing them. The period between my purchase and my finishing the pack gradually decreased as I found it a necessity to be in the car with a cigarette in hand. The two almost couldn’t live without each other.

I moved to Los Angeles for a time and American Spirits began losing their appeal to me. I began smoking more than I’d care to admit, “taking breaks” from my studio apartment that didn’t have central air. I’d walk the Los Feliz streets where people “got” me and my habit, feeling assured while lacking enjoyment from the brand’s taste. I switched over to Camel Lights and considered it a diet. The cigarette burnt quicker so it was less of a commitment and I didn’t feel a slight tinge of nausea upon getting out of my car after having lit up. But still, the habit persisted.

This became a back and forth for me — American Spirits to Camel Lights — and I suppose it still is. For a long time I was convinced the habit would never own me. I’d constantly remark on how it could never possibly become an addiction, and though I wouldn’t say I’m addicted, I still haven’t committed to not buying my next pack after promising myself “this is my last one!”

I don’t advocate smoking. If someone asks me for a cigarette, I’ll say something along the lines of “I only support my own bad habit.” And I mean that. I hope to quit sometime soon. Maybe sooner will be a bit later, but I don’t intend on owning a wardrobe full of smoke-drenched sweaters one day. I can’t get on board with that.

At least I know it’s my bad habit now, not someone else’s who I’m trying to emulate. I’m no longer smoking to be cool enough or like-minded, I’m smoking because I personally found a place for it in my life that “worked.” Though it’s no excuse, it’s something I can own and control, because it’s mine. And that gives me the confidence that one day I’ll quit. One day I’ll tell my kids how I smoked and how they shouldn’t, but if they do, I’ll understand. I swear I will, because stuff happens to us unexpectedly and we have to roll with it, then hopefully one day wise up, realizing what exactly we’re capable of when we say it’s out of our control. It’s all in our control — the good and the bad — and even I can’t condone my poor choices simply because it’s my human nature and all that.

Come to think of it, maybe I’ll even hold onto that meager six bucks next time I’m at 7-11. Maybe I can put it towards a college fund for my more responsible future children or something. Yeah, I think I’ll go ahead and try to do that. TC mark

image – viZZZual.com

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  • Anonymous

    I find I can quit every winter because of the cold. Come spring though, smoke ’em if you got ’em.

  • Siouxsie

    I was totally able to relate with your first experience with a cigar as well as your present situation wherein you know you SHOULD be quitting but is quite unable to do so just yet. Good luck girl. 

  • http://twitter.com/novelty718 JC

    $6…since I work in NYC and live in NJ I will leave that alone…but I’m with CUNNYC, come winter it is so much easier to quit but once those temps rise so does my smoking habit.
    I used to say I would quit when I got pregnant…I have since then decided I don’t want to have kids…I’ll quit no idea how or when. If I think too deeply about it I know I won’t. One day I’ll wake up and realize it has been xyz days since my last cigarette.

  • Cocoon

    One day I’ll tell my kids how I smoked and how they shouldn’t, but if they do, I’ll understand. I swear I will, because stuff happens to us unexpectedly and we have to roll with it, then hopefully one day wise up, realizing what exactly we’re capable of when we say it’s out of our control.

    • Jcha

      yeah, unless you’re dead from lung cancer before you can have kids.

      • Nick

        By the time you’re dying from lung cancer you’re too old to have kids.

      • Guest

        i don’t understand why people get so angry at smokers and ram CANCER down their throat all the time. it’s their choice, and they’re not harming anyone. so shut up. you’re just like one of those people who preaches about getting cancer from deoderant or burnt toast, jesus we’re all going to die. and in the western world it’s more than likely to be from cancer, since we can cure most other things. UGH just shut up and stop almost wishing cancer on people

    • Jcha

      yeah, unless you’re dead from lung cancer before you can have kids.

    • Jcha

      yeah, unless you’re dead from lung cancer before you can have kids.

  • shainanana

    maybe i’m unique in this but i can smoke between 7 cigarettes a day and a pack, depending on what i’m doing that day, for the length of the schoolyear, and smoke 2 cigarettes tops, usually none, all summer long (at least if i’m not drinking).  sometimes i worry about my lungs or my bank account, or that one day i won’t be able to stop, but i’ll probably just quit naturally when i graduate and everyone around me stop smoking–or at least go back to buying packs i’ll never finish.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EUL6B7WZUNAHGMO5KRCKZTGP54 Damen Handle

    I dont really get why people to start to begin with. maybe i’m lame, but i just never got the appeal. at least from my perspective, it seems as if a whole bunch of hipsters smoke just for the artistic and counterculture feel to it. kudos to you for recognizing the inanity of it.

    And I’ve smoked probably about four cigarettes in my entire life (I’m 23), so i don’t have much experience with it, but I’ve never felt a high whatsoever. I just don’t get it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ashesofahero Late Bloomer

      you only get the buzz or whatever when you inhale the smoke into your lungs. If you just blow the smoke out as soon as you take a drag then all you’re doing is making your breath stink. Also smoking while drinking also helps get you fucked a little faster.

      Anyways yeah smoking is a stupid habit. I remember hiding my moms cigarettes and she would go fucking nuts trying to find them.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ashesofahero Late Bloomer

      you only get the buzz or whatever when you inhale the smoke into your lungs. If you just blow the smoke out as soon as you take a drag then all you’re doing is making your breath stink. Also smoking while drinking also helps get you fucked a little faster.

      Anyways yeah smoking is a stupid habit. I remember hiding my moms cigarettes and she would go fucking nuts trying to find them.

  • Mya

    I know this shouldn’t be the focus, but seriously $6?
    And I thought my discovery of a corner store with 9.50 camels was a celebration-worthy

    ….oh Canada

  • Jcha

    Are these articles proofread? “Loosing”? “Freshmen” year?

    Anyway, the issue I have with smoking is not what you decide to do with yourself – that’s your business – but that it affects the rest of those around you. Even when you’re outside. The worst thing in the world is leaving the gym after a great work out and walking outside only to inhale a huge puff of second hand smoke. I know I’m in the minority, but I think smoking should be banned. It’s not about free choice – it’s about the affects it has on the rest of the community and anyone living in your home. It would be like allowing someone to wear a suit emitting asbestos around society. We KNOW this is a cancer-causing agent. It’s not conjecture, so why is it still allowed? Freedom of choice is only when that choice ONLY affects you.

    Sorry, I’m getting off my soapbox now.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EUL6B7WZUNAHGMO5KRCKZTGP54 Damen Handle

      The simple truth is that study after study shows that long term smoking deteriorates body tissues and is a carcinogen for all sorts of cancers. 

      Eventually, when you’re 65+, Medicare (aka everyone else in the country) pays for your healthcare and deteriorated health. Smoking is a financial burden on the rest of the country. I believe a few studies have been done that quantifies this.

      • Jcha

        An additional selling point for banning it completely!

      • http://hotfemmeinthecity.wordpress.com/ natasia

        Couldn’t we say something very similar about artificial sweeteners and food additives? None of us eats all organic whole foods all the time. By buying and using products that use chemicals we are perpetuating the cycle of bad health to other consumers and taxing the already strained health care system.

        Yes, smoking is bad. But so is most of what we eat. 

  • HHR

    When I got to a pack a day I realized I needed to quit, my story’s similar to yours.  I smoked off and on for 6 years…beginning in college.  I quit almost 3 months ago using ‘The Easy Way to Quit Smoking’ which believe it or not worked…you can smoke all through the book.  When I got it I decided to spend 13 bucks on it than two more packs of cigs.  Good luck! 

  • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

    I really wanted to like this but felt a lot of it was very… disconnected? Interesting, just needed some grooming I think.

  • Guest

    LOL U LISTEN 2 BON IVER HAHAHAHA!!!

  • Anonymous
  • Elly-sunshine

    I have no idea why I read your entire article in a man voice.
    Kinda figured it was from a man’s perspective for some reason.

    Anyway, I agree to you a lot on this. I’m 18 and most of the time I don’t feel too much about *smoking* at all. Which was why it was odd when it suddenly occurred to me how negative it is on my health.

    …And how a charred heart is kinda gross. (What is up with me?!)

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