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Monday, January 8, 2007

My Smobriety: One Year Out

posted by on January 8 at 14:09 PM

It’s officially been one year since I quit smoking.

For those who’ve arrived on the Slog since January ought-six, last year, I quit smoking, and Slogged a daily record of how I felt. I did this because I thought that my pain and humiliation would be thrilling reading. I was totally wrong. Quitting smoking turned out to be a dull enterprise, and not difficult at all, except for the frequent colds that took hold in the open-sore petri dishes of my lungs. I had images of Leonardo DiCaprio-like moaning and rolling around on the floor, begging for another hit, one more hit, drooling on myself and other kinds of rampant overacting. Instead, it turned out to be more like waiting for a bus that never comes. I haven’t had a cigarette since, not even a close call, or, really, a craving since the first three days. This includes the many times I’ve had drinks with smokers—I am the Party Crasher, after all. I’ve never asked for a drag, or asked people to blow smoke on me, or any of those weird, longing ex-smoker’s tricks.

In fact, if I’d always known how easy quitting cigarettes was, I would’ve quit years before.

For those who are thinking about quitting smoking, or who are interested in what the first year of smobriety feels like, there is a fuller accounting after the jump.

I started out using Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, but I quit that as soon as I felt speed-y—about four days in—and then I went cold turkey. Two other friends quit with me: "Dick," who sporadically used the patch, and "Tim," who bought nicotine gum but never opened the package. "Tim" hasn't had one since, but "Dick," about six months in, decided to try a cigarette "to see how stupid I used to be." Within a week of that first cigarette, I caught him having another cigarette when he got drunk. I proceeded to mock him to the point where he nearly took a swing at me. This is why we decided to quit in a group, and "Dick" hasn't had one since then, either.

There is a downside, of course, besides the sickness. Between the three of us, we've probably gained a healthy toddler's worth of weight. After the weight gain really started kicking in—about five months in, by the way—I decided to give myself a year to let my metabolism calm down. So now I'm going to try to lose the weight, and, no, I'm not going to Slog about that: You're welcome.
So, if you're looking to quit smoking, here's what I'd advise:

1) Quit with friends. And I mean the kind of friends who you're willing to punch.

2) Buy and read The Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Alan Carr, who died this last year of lung cancer. This is the only smoking cessation tool I've heard of that works, actually works.

3) That's it. Really. Be prepared to gain some weight, and be prepared to have your sense of time and space stretched out for the first month. Be prepared to get sick, too. But eventually, there'll come a point where you smell somebody who smokes and you'll realize that you smelled like that all the goddamned time, you'll see that cigarettes cost six bucks a pack and realize that you used to spend money on that every single day, and you'll feel, retroactively—12 years, for me—like the biggest idiot in the history of the world. And gradually you'll start to feel better.

And if you don't smoke, and someone you love is a smoker, please: Stop nagging them. I honestly think that, for every minute that you nag a smoker, they'll continue being addicted for two more minutes, just out of spite. I don't think that it's ever helped. If you want to buy the Alan Carr book, then buy them the Alan Carr book. Just leave it somewhere where they'll see it. When they want to quit, they'll quit, and then you should be as supportive as possible. But, for Christ's sake: lay off with the momminess, really.

I think that that's it. Sorry that I don't have any moments where I climbed a mountain and breathed in the air and saw an eagle flying and felt like Chuck Norris, but, at least I have whole days, entire weeks, where I don't even think about cigarettes anymore, and frankly, that kind of freedom is enough for me.

RSS icon Comments


I salute your smobriety and this post, Paul.

Posted by opalescent arcs | January 8, 2007 2:54 PM

I do too, Paul. But I'm a nagger and I don't think I can quit nagging. Listening to me bitch about smoking is the small price smokers have to pay for making me inhale their shitty, stanky smoke on my way in and out of work.

Posted by Dan Savage | January 8, 2007 3:02 PM

It's only easy to quit now that you can't smoke in bars.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 8, 2007 3:13 PM

Next up: a patch for nagging

Posted by Boomer | January 8, 2007 3:30 PM

Good job Paul! Very proud of you!

Posted by Suz | January 8, 2007 3:31 PM

the part about waiting for the bus that never comes I can totally identify with. I never did enjoy smoking in public, but I sure do miss that evening cigarette in my own quiet back yard. After that first 3 days, it really is a piece of cake....but I do miss that one taste, that one private quiet time, that ritual.....but do I regret quitting?? of course not!!!! It's just one more "pleasure" that we as humans have to accept that we just can't partake in. Smoking is icky, unhealthy and stinky(duh we all know that) and everyone should just quit, if even to give the big money tobacco a kick in the ass. Can they not invent an in home timed device that will dispense with only one cigarette a day to prevent addiction but allow us that "pleasure"??(you know the old saying "one a day wont kill ya).
Of course I kid, and I want to say congrats on your 1 year!!

One last thing.....when will we get as adamant about quitting tobacco smoking as we do about the carbon monoxide car owners spew into our lungs everyday? As a nonsmoker AND a non-car owner, when do I get my say??
(again tongue in cheek but really, breathing car exhaust is the exact same thing)

Posted by Matthew | January 8, 2007 3:49 PM

been 3 weeks for me as of I guess I'm a hair closer to the blackened cilia than mr constant....but I've got to say, the biggest impediment to my quitting was absorbed disempowerment (word or not?)...I'd heard so much about how addictive it was that I had unconciously removed myself from the decision off whether to smoke or not, replacing my own lung-mind accountability with some imagined edifice of addiction. i smoked 20-30 smokes a day, more if I was drinking or drugging heavily, but my mind has turned a corner. i'm done, I know what they taste like, i know what kind of social crutch they are, and I'm done. It doesn't mean anyone else has to be, I'm just savoring the things (like smell, taste, cardio endurance) that I though i'd forsaken long ago. To current smokers-quit when you're ready, not when others are ready for you. But know that it can catch up with you before you're ready in the form of cancer......has happened to a couple of mid 30's friends of mine.

Posted by boy named sue | January 8, 2007 3:51 PM

I'm on day eight, myself. Thanks for posting this -- I remembered the 'smobriety' thread from last year, but hadn't gone searching for it. This seems to be a nice summation...and worth keeping in mind.

Posted by Michael Hanscom | January 8, 2007 4:14 PM

I forever crave cigarettes when I drink. It's the only hard part (for me) and a thousand times harder when I'm at any of the innumerable post-smoking-ban bars that allows smoking. Fortunately the weight gain of quitting (on average 7lbs) is off-set by drinking less.

Posted by DEWsterling | January 8, 2007 4:45 PM

I quit for the first time when I moved to Seattle from Idaho about six months ago. Helpers: no triggers from places I used to smoke, no smoking friends around to tempt, no smoking in bars, and the added cost. I "relapsed" three times: at Bonnaroo (where everyone was smoking something), and twice when my chimney friend came to visit. Each time I smoked about a pack; when that was gone, I "quit" again.

I don't crave it anymore. Although I still want to smoke when I see certain films (To Have and Have Not), read certain books (Atlas Shrugged), or go to certain places (The Garden, in Moscow, Idaho). Sort of. I don't think I'd enjoy it if I indulged. But there is something about wielding fire and setting the mood.

Regardless of the why and wherefore of my decision to quit, I still get irritated by both self-righteous nonsmokers and ex-smokers. The advice above, to "stop nagging them," is dead on. Smokers don't want to be told to quit. And ex-smokers don't want to be congratulated.

Posted by YLlama | January 8, 2007 5:01 PM

Thanks for the plug on Alan Carr's book, a friend got it for me last Christmas and I had put it aside and forgotten it. I'm kind of a headcase and it looks like just the book I need.

And thanks for the 'smobriety' posts last year, I appreciated them.

Posted by D/Everett | January 8, 2007 8:19 PM

I've quit lots of times - sometimes it has been easy, other times it's been really fucking hard. Who knows why.

Congrats, quitting smoking is a big deal if you've never done it before. After about 16 years of sporadic, episodic smoking, with episodes progressively becoming fewer, shorter, and further between, I've gotten to point where I can smoke when the occassion calls for it without suffering a complete relapse.

Posted by Sean | January 8, 2007 9:29 PM

Here is some inspiration to stay a non-smoker:

Posted by patrick C | January 8, 2007 9:50 PM

I can't even imagine you as a smoker. I'm curious about how you started (peer pressure? cool factor?). Everyone I know who has smoked has never made it look appealing. Except maybe those fellows who smoke tobacco out of pipes. They're kind of amusing.

Posted by David E. | January 8, 2007 10:48 PM

I've got about a platoon of friends over in Iraq somewhere getting shot at , motared on and killing terrorists for a living. I'm sure a cigarettes what they wanting now besides going home and I miss those days when I could calm some nerves by giving them one. RIP 3000 and counting GIs. sorry I snapped mentaly after 3 tours and can't join you guys for one last hoorah! into a firefight. Oh And after watching that PBS special on 9 tonight on why 21st century racism against the Jews is the cause for all the chaos on this planet including the Tobacco industry(the muslims and Malaysan propaganda news networks and movies would have you believe that). That cigarette can mean alot to some people who need the break. BEFORE THEY BREAK.
Now after this and that swig and swag of beer and some good ass ganj I need a fooking stinky ass smoke to rid this world of the stench of false sense of security it still has left. Public Enemy Smoker
"Yeah thats me ma' On top Of the World SEE." blasting them with my cigarette machinegun. jeesh propaganda. That channel 9 show was right about that.
It goes way back don't it?

Posted by sputnik | January 8, 2007 11:36 PM

Oh yeah I'm glad for everyone that you quit smoking Paul. Not everyone can hack it . get it HACKIT. cough cough cough.

Posted by sputnik | January 8, 2007 11:39 PM

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