Why it’s better to never start in the first place:

Have you ever shook your head sadly at the folly of another?

Smoking cessation
Love it – I need me one of these. (Photo credits: http://www.mysafetysign.com)

My lead at work, he said to me yesterday that it was his last day smoking, even though I watched him bum a cigarette twice from co-workers. “I should never have started back up, it’s killing me. I go outside my apartment to smoke, and sometimes the old lady across the hall is out there smoking and hacking up a lung.” I shook my head with a wry little smile; I’ve heard that before. Hell, I’ve said that before . . . or at least, the first part. I’ve mentioned in the previous post Let’s drink to the death of a dirty habit! that I used to smoke cigarettes. My lead – let’s call him “Buffalo” for the sake of anonymity, and because “buffalo” is a fun word to say – was chewing tobacco prior to starting back to smoking, which I have always regarded as a disgusting habit. It turns out that a lot of guys at work chew, though; some of them do it so they don’t have to go out and smoke all the time, and this makes sense because North Dakota is the kind of place where you don’t really want to go outside for such trivial purposes for five months out of the year. I can’t imagine why one would ever start, though.

And that makes me a hypocrite. I started smoking cigarettes back in high school, probably at about the age of sixteen. I don’t remember the exact reason why I took up this habit; maybe I thought it made me look cool, or maybe it gave me a way to hang out in a place with the others who were cool – cool because they smoked, too cool for school, cool enough to have friends that had other friends . . . you get my drift. When you have about three friends left after the middle school exodus and all of them have about three friends, and one of them is you, this looks like a good reason to a teenager to start smoking. If nothing else, it helps to curb the stress of being a social castaway. However it may seem, though, starting smoking is a bad idea. Take it from me, kids!

No Smoking - American Cancer Society's Great A...
“No thanks, I already ate.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember my Dad telling me, “don’t start smoking. It’s better not to start smoking. I’m too old to quit, I’ll never be able to quit smoking.” This is the rhetoric – do what I say, not what I do. This is a bad example, don’t do it and you won’t be tortured forever by the addiction. But we humans, we are stronger than that, and even Dad proved it by quitting smoking. I think maybe he smokes a little cigar once in a while, but that pack a day of Camel Filters is a long-gone habit at this point, which proves that you can be a hero at any age – to yourself, to others who care about you, and to the world in general.

It’s no secret that smoking is bad for you; I think they blew the whistle on that one a while back. Cigarette production and consumption is also bad for the environment, which I deign to back up with credible sources, because if you think I’m wrong, you go ahead and prove it, and I will admit my wrong. Secondhand smoke, which is the smoke you inhale from other smokers smoking or who have finished smoking recently in the vicinity, is bad for you and anyone else who is exposed to it. Some studies have said that it’s worse than smoking itself, but maybe that’s because the smokers are already at their loading dose of carcinogenic ultra fine particles (UFPs), their bodies have given up asking nicely and are now playing the long game of ‘we’ll just see what happens!’ Secondhand smoke is bad for children, for pets, and if you’re out in public and someone else is smoking, it is impacting your health. Maybe in the long run there won’t be an effect, but it’s hard to say what the human machine can and can’t do when the basics of epigenetics haven’t been pinned down yet, and once we surpass that hurdle, who’s to say there isn’t another one beyond that?

Will we ever truly understand every tiny process occurring in the typical human organism?

English: James Albert Bonsack's cigarette roll...
This here is James Albert Bonsack’s cigarette rolling machine, invented in 1880 and patented in 1881. I couldn’t afford one of these so I just rolled them by hand; turns out, it’s a lot quicker as well. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s why they ban smoking in public places, in restaurants and bars, in public transport, schools and municipal buildings, &c. It’s a fire hazard, an environmental hazard, a public health hazard, a personal health hazard, and I am convinced that some day, we will no longer smoke cigarettes because of these things if for no other reason. Some will argue that there are better and less addicting things to smoke and I say if you do it away from me, go right ahead. I happen to live in the last state in the union that will ever legalize, I’m sure, and I’m okay with that. When they finally do, if I’m still alive, I will be fine with that as well.

I’ve got other things to worry about – my family, my writing, and my mission to surf.

For what it’s worth, I quit smoking in June of 2010 – if I remember correctly – which means at this point I have been a nonsmoker for three and a half years. I’m more than confident enough to say I have no urge to go back and no amount of stress has triggered any residual craving, so I must be done. This has been my third long-term quit, and it shall be my last. How did I do it?

A wise person called Tiny (that’s his actual nickname) once told me “quitting smoking is easy: just don’t smoke.” I told Buffalo that yesterday, and he seemed a little dismissive, but I gave him that advice and told him it’s so easy I did it myself. I didn’t tell him that I tapered off, though, or that by the time I was ready to quit I had switched to rolling them by hand from the loose tobacco you buy in bags or cans at the tobacco shop, which contains less chemicals than the commercial ones (we can argue about the motivation behind adding chemicals, but I think it’s safe to say when you make that many cigarettes that have to be transported and stored and shelved for retail sale, it is absolutely necessary to . . . bolster the product for maximum freshness and shelf life. That’s just one reason why big tobacco companies should not exist.) After I started rolling Drum tobacco I was able to get myself down to five cigarettes a day, and then I just quit. A month later, Mme. Ross quit smoking because it was cold outside and her smoking buddy was now a quitter.

So I saved two lives, at the very least.

What do you think? Isn’t it better to never have started in the first place? Do you smoke (I promise not to judge – you know I’ve been there,) or are you a proud quitter? Where do you think smoking is going in the future? The big tobacco companies comply with federal regulations so they can still operate, the e-cigarettes have broken into the mainstream, tobacco lobbies can easily whip smokers into a freedom frenzy over their rights – what’s coming up, do you think? Let us know in the comments!

This post was prompted by today’s Daily Post prompt.

50 other responses have posted so far:

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  5. DP Daily Prompt: Happy Endings | Sabethville
  6. Holy Crap. I haven’t considered that before. Quit Quitting… | thoughtsofrkh
  7. My Struggle With Binge Eating | Wind on my Skin
  8. The day I told the world to shove it! | From One Crazy Life To Another
  9. Willie And The Norwegian Flangiprop | The Jittery Goat
  10. Silenced – Daily Prompt | alienorajt
  11. Pink Slime | Daily Prompt: Happy Endings | likereadingontrains
  12. Almost Cold Turkey. | Hope* the happy hugger
  13. When You Are Told No! | The Photo Faith Challenge
  14. Daily Prompt: Happy Endings | Melissa Holden
  15. Things seem tiny because My mind is even more Tiny | So Not Simple
  16. Cold Turkey | Kate Murray
  17. The End | Finale to an Entrance
  18. forgiveness should | y
  19. Mr. Reality’s Class Ceiling | Catching A Scent of Salt…
  20. When Quitting is for Winners! | meanderedwanderings
  21. Chocolate Cream Cups : Friday Night Party! Do you want to join the wagon? | simplyvegetarian777
  22. Happy Endings? My Addiction. | Abstractions of Life
  23. Daily Prompt – « My journey to qualify for the Boston Marathon…and everything in between…
  24. The Beginning of a Happy Ending | Cancer Isn’t Pink
  25. What is “cold turkey”? | Phelio a Random Post a Day
  26. Quitting: A Happy Ending | Delicious Ambiguity
  27. Daily Prompt: Happy Endings | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  28. Whistonwick | Writing and Works
  29. Happy beginnings | Life is great
  30. Endings Are Beginnings | Ako Si Ehm Blog
  31. 259. Cold Turkey | Barely Right of Center
  32. Dead Branch | Wanderlein
  33. Happy End To Shopping This Morning | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  34. Smoking & the Heart | A mom’s blog
  35. When I Broke Up With Coke
  36. Death – Daily Prompt photo | alienorajt
  37. I’m not NOT quitting. | The Playground
  38. The End Became the Beginning | The View From Here
  39. Given Up On Giving Up – Daily Prompt – Happy Ending | Views Splash!
  40. The End | Flowers and Breezes
  41. Happy Endings | The Nameless One
  42. I Quit Facebook/Daily Prompt | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
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  45. Rebirth | Broken Light: A Photography Collective
  46. if you break into | y
  47. Confessions of a T. S. G. | gogirlgone
  48. Smoke On | Just Visiting This Planet
  49. Daily Prompt – Happy Endings – Be Told |
  50. Haiku- The End | chinks’ lounge


  1. I have never smoked anything – cigarettes, pipes, cigars, weed – not anything. I’m one of those people who would smoke three or four packs a day if I had ever started, because smoking hits all my nervous ticks. I bit my fingernails for years, because I am so nervous with my hands and my mouth. Smoking would’ve been like crack. I’m so glad I never did it, and I won’t do it.

  2. I tried it a couple of times… didn’t really see the appeal in it. But, I had other vices, other things I did to cope with the demons in my life, which weren’t terribly healthy either, albeit in different ways.

  3. I had my first tobacco cigarette and it was EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED. I was a low birth-weight baby; 4 pounds. My mom a chain smoker. I’m sure I was hooked “in utero.” I’ve had, in my life, a total of 13 cigarettes (and a couple cigars). I realized with that first one I should save tobacco for very unique moments and smoke it as a kind of ritual. Scary to be that HOOKED. Really, good luck with not smoking. That’s the weird thing about addictions; they are illnesses in which the cure is in the hands of the patient.

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