I recently quit smoking for the second time in my life. The first time, back in 2015, I had merely replaced one vice with another having made the move from tobacco to vaping and going from smelling like a stale carpet in an old pub to smelling like a cherry scented air freshener. It was ridiculous though, I was absolutely kidding myself that vaping was the lesser of two evils therefore justifying my constant hue of fruity smelling smoke.
I had my first taste of smoking when I was 13 years old. My best friend and I stole two cigarettes from his mother’s packet which she had left on the kitchen table. We walked through the village and out into the woods before sparking up. I did not enjoy that first taste, and I don’t think I inhaled properly which is why I was spluttering, and my eyes were watering, but I persevered because like many teenagers, I had bowed to peer pressure. I also wanted to be like my Dad, whom I looked up to of course, and he was a heavy smoker at the time. It was some three years after that when I took up smoking on a more full-time basis. Sixteen years old and in sixth form, having gained a touch of freedom with free periods throughout the day it was all too easy to sneak off for a cheeky cigarette every now and then. Yeah, I thought I was cool. Once I turned 18 and left home for University, my casual behind the bike shed smoking quickly became a daily habit for the next 10 years.
In what I believe was an attempt to get me to curb my enthusiasm for nicotine, a now ex-girlfriend of mine once asked me why I smoked. The truth of the matter was habit and addiction but at the time I said it was because I was really good at it. How can you be really good at smoking? I was of course trying to inject some humour so as to detract from the seriousness of the conversation. Back to the truth of the matter; addiction is defined as dependency and it took me quite some time to realise that I was dependent on nicotine as a part of my daily routine. I would wake up in the morning and roll two cigarettes; I’d smoke the first in the back garden while drinking a coffee then after getting ready for work I would smoke the second en-route to the train station. Once on the train I would roll another one which I would then smoke while walking from the station to the office. That’s three before 9am! I would then have another at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and inevitably two or three more in the pub at 6pm before jumping on a train home at 7pm, after which I would certainly smoke another while walking home from the station and four or so more of an evening before going to bed. I was easily smoking 10-15 a day, which is something I only realised after I kicked the habit, but as mentioned above I actually replaced one habit with another.
So, why did I make the move to vaping in 2015? My nephew was born, and my sister and brother-in-law made it abundantly clear that I was to go nowhere near the baby If I had been smoking and rightly so of course. However, I was not ready to entirely give up on nicotine and vaping had just become fashionable. So, I went out and bought something that resembled a classic Nokia but unfortunately, I couldn’t play snake on it. It did satisfy my nicotine cravings though and so it never left my side. It was easier than smoking too! Sat in front of the TV on a Sunday binging Netflix, constantly vaping! Stuck in traffic or otherwise just driving, constantly vaping! Stood in a field listening to Iron Maiden headline Download festival, constantly vaping! It basically became an additional limb and I was certainly using it more than I had ever smoked previously, and I was really good at vaping too! However, here we are some four years later and after some lengthy and constant berating from friends and family concerned for my health and having glanced myself in the mirror while vaping and realising how much of a prat I looked, I have now kicked that habit too. As I write this, I am eight days free of nicotine, and I have never been grumpier in my entire life, but I am glad of the decision I have made.
What’s the point in all of this? Smoking/vaping/nicotine was a part of my life for the better part of 16 years. It was a habit, almost ritualistic at times. It was comfortable and it was constant, with not a day going by when I didn’t indulge in it or enjoy it, and yet I gave it up. I debated it, agonised over it at times, went back and forth to myself justifying the decision either way, but ultimately I made a life change, a decision which I am entirely confident in yet also a little unsure of because change can be terrifying and difficult, but ultimately the benefits significantly outweighed the risks and therefore I am happy with decision I have made. In a way one can liken this to changing jobs. It’s always a difficult and scary decision regardless of how long you may have been in that position. It will have formed part of your daily routine, there will be elements of comfort of course that are difficult to walk away from, but nevertheless sometimes it is entirely necessary to take that leap of faith; and it is quite likely that the benefits will greatly outweigh the risks.
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