Smokers and Smoking.

I used to smoke. I smoked for a really long time. When I smoked I told people I enjoyed smoking. I guess to a certain degree that was true in so much as while I was smoking a cigarette I enjoyed it. But as soon as I finished one and the nasty taste was all that was left, as well as the grim realization that it was only a matter of time before I craved the next one, I’m not sure I still continued to call it enjoyable. I may have enjoyed smoking a cigarette here and there but I hated (and I mean hated) being a smoker.

When I was 20 I tried to quit. I tried again at age 25 and succeeded for almost a year. I tried again at 27 and then again, finally kicking it, at age 30. Basically, I kept trying to quit and I kept failing miserably.

When I met Tobyjoe he gave me an ultimatum. He suggested I quit, that our relationship would not go on for much longer if I continued to be a smoker. He said, “I don’t have any interest in marrying someone who is going to die a slow, horrible, and ugly death. I have no interest in making sure your oxygen tank is working.”

He had a point. And I really liked him. Why wouldn’t I give up this nasty habit in order to make our relationship work? And so I tried. When the clock struck the year 2002, I said I would not smoke another cigarette and I lasted for almost 6 months before sneaking one behind his back. And then another. Before I knew it, I was sneaking cigarettes all the time.

This was the catalyst of many, many HUGE fights between he and I. When he would find a stash in an old purse or in the pocket of a jacket, he would become so angry, he was unable to speak to me. I would ask him things like, “Why do you care? It doesn’t hurt you!” I would say things like, “If I want to smoke, I should be able to smoke!”

It was really dumb and it almost ended our relationship.

Quitting, like, actually quitting, was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, which is probably why it took so many tries. It’s also been one of the most rewarding. I finally stopped smoking, as in, no more sneaking it, no more taking a puff of someone else’s, it was tough and I missed them for a while but I finally did quit. Every time I drank and my inhibitions were lowered, I wanted a cigarette. It was a really hard addiction to conquer. I wish nonsmokers understood just how hard NOT smoking really is for a smoker. But until you’re owned by such a thing, you have no idea how something so intangible and dangerous can literally be the boss of you. Thankfully, for me, the addiction is totally gone. Now the only time the idea even sneaks into my head is when I’m shitfaced drunk and that doesn’t really happen much anymore either.

But that leads me to why I’m writing today. Recently, we were discussing smoking and smokers. More specifically, we were talking about a loved one who still smokes and really shouldn’t. The deep, raspy cough is hint enough that something very wrong is taking place inside of them. And the way they smell, it’s unbearable most of the time. Their skin is sagging and wrinkling before it should. Their teeth are stained. Yet, they’re very beautiful, too. And we love them and we want to keep them around for as long as possible. So we talked about it. And Tobyjoe, a person who hasn’t ever had a cigarette in all of his life, not even a drag, said, “No, they won’t quit for good. They enjoy being a smoker.”

And I became angry. I am not sure where this anger came from, perhaps all those times I foolishly told myself (and everyone else around me) the same thing came back to me.

“There is no way any one person can honestly say to another person that they enjoy being a smoker. They might enjoy a cigarette when they’re smoking one, but NO ONE above the showoff age of 16 is actually proud of being a smoker. If they tell you such a thing, they’re lying. If they believe it, they’re lying to themselves.”

This was a harsh thing to say and to be honest I’m not sure why I’m writing it out loud. But for some reason, I need to say it. And so I challenge any smokers out there to honestly tell themselves right now that they enjoy being a smoker. Because I am just not buying it.


  1. I think it depends on when one’s own sense of mortality kicks in. When one is young, looking and feeling youthful, when all or most of one’s friends smoke, thoughts of “I should quit” or “This is disgusting” rarely if ever come up. I can say with certainty that it never came up for me when I was a younger smoker v. an older smoker, but that’s because there was a huge disconnect between brain and body. ‘Enjoyment’ in that sense may not be the right word, though ‘addiction’ certainly is.


  2. …Which leads me to another point about “being in one’s own body”. I believe that addiction in any form, be it to illegal or legal drugs, and even food, occur largely because of a complete or near-complete lack of self-awareness. Some of that is rooted in deeper, long-standing self-confidence issues, but it’s also because of the disconnect I mention above. It’s very easy to become addicted to something; on the other hand, it takes a lot of time and awareness to be in tune with one’s body without all the other junk getting in the way (such as the “I can’t do this” or “I’m fat” kind of stuff). A dancer I once briefly knew used to teach yoga to and perform for female inmates and one thing she said was, “It’s so sad that these women don’t know what it means to be in their own bodies. It’s never occurred to them.”


  3. I was a smoker, and I enjoyed it. I didn’t mind the smell or the taste when the cigarette was gone. I thought the pile of ashes in my camaro’s ash tray was kinda gross, but that didn’t trigger any self loathing.

    Kerry let me know that I was not to smoke in her presence, and definitely not in our home, but I would sneak smokes for years. There’s nothing I liked more than to stumble off the rugby field bruised, bloody and muddy, and drink a beer and smoke a cigarette. So I would smoke when I was with my friends, and I’d avoid kissing Kerry for a day (until the smell was gone from my beard). I did this for years (although there may have been stretches of a year or so of not smoking).

    Finally, in early March 2004 I participated in a Polar Bear swim in Lake Ontario—a big event with thousands of people carousing and drinking. I smoked like a chimney and came home stinking (and drunk). The kids could smell it, Kerry could smell it, and I felt like crap. Of course, she was pissed, as well she should.

    It was then that I realized that it was just plain stupid. FINALLY I realized why it made it her so angry and suddenly I DIDN’T like being a smoker anymore. It was stupid, self-indulgent, and irresponsible. And I haven’t smoked since.

    So, I guess I’d say that there are quite a few people who DO like being smokers at some level. Maybe it’s part of the nicotine addiction, but I don’t buy it. It’s more part of their identity. But there are plenty of people whose perception of themselves is based on a lie and self delusion.


  4. Missy, that’s a beautiful comment. Seriously lovely.

    Regarding the lack of self-awareness comment (I have only begun to ponder what you wrote above, I could warp this eventually) do you think that’s why many people become addicted to certain drugs and/or destructive habits during their teenage years? Where self-awareness runs thin?

    I became addicted to smoking early on. And I continued to do it even though I wanted very much to be free from it. It got to the point where I began to hate myself for not being able to control myself, which made me even more self-destructive. Plus, if I did something good, like ran a mile, ate well, or lost some weight, I would reward myself with cigarettes. How freaking stupid is that? I would reward myself with cigarettes if I didn’t smoke for a certain amount of time as well.

    Not sure if that’s making any sense at all.

    It’s weird, but eventually I think some people start to believe that it’s too late to change and just give in. That, too, is really sad.


  5. Charlie, did you actually really like being a smoker? Or is that what you told yourself? I guess it comes down to self-delusion? Do you think?


  6. I’ve met plenty of people who enjoy being smokers. They engrain the behaviour as part of their own identity. Whether they think its cool, comforting, or anything else – they identitfy smoking with themselves and vice-versa.

    I think its the same mental mechanism that gives people ‘organizational pride’ ( be it from a hometown, state, country, sports team etc)

    Just to add—dating in NYC is damn hard. I flat out have refused bother with anyone who smokes. Aside from being far beyond ridiculously stupid in terms of health, even casual smoking makes people smell like shit, and ages their face way faster than it should.

    You’d think that it would be easy finding girls who don’t smoke at all in nyc – in seven years I’ve met less than a dozen. Sure, you’ll find people who say they don’t smoke– then you find out that means they kicked a habit that occasionally returns, or they only smoke a few a week ( “when i go out.. or when i’m stressed—so it doesn’t count” )

    BTW, Toby just gained major points in my book by getting you to quit by threating to leave.


  7. All smokers/addicts/people who gain new self-awareness(pride)- all get a gold star and perhaps a cookie.
    They are all challenges and we rock for surviving through it (teenage whatever older foolishness).
    I’ll drink to that.


  8. i had a cigarette in October after 2 years of not a puff. it was the most disgusting feeling and i’m convinced it’s what gave me my hangover the next morning (although to be fair to the cigarette, i drank quite a bit that night). but it led me to wonder ‘did i always feel this gross after a smoke?’ maybe i was just ignoring myself. there’s little chance i will ever be interested in taking a puff ever again. now if i could just kick my TV watching habits…


  9. i credit my father for me never smoking. he used to smoke and made me take a drag when i was a kid (perhaps not the wisest thing), but i didn’t like it. so i’ve never smoked.

    he’s since quit because he was in the hospital after breaking his hip.


  10. Funny that you’d post this on Day 1 of my Health Month.

    For the record, I Love Smoking.

    If they came up with cures for smoking-related illnesses, i would never quit. I love the smell. I love the taste. I love the ritual.

    I don’t know if that makes me a non-self-aware, 16 year old who is lying to himself or not.

    Of course, the health implications are the the reason I try to quit. And, because i don’t like the concept of being addicted to something. So, i quit today, and am going to try to stay smoke free until the miracle cure comes (lung brush?).


  11. If you really loved smoking, Keith, the health implications wouldn’t bother you either. My point is, you might enjoy smoking, as you say that you do, but you don’t want to be a smoker. You’re not happy you’re a smoker. Of course, I’m assuming that based on what you wrote about the health problems involved.

    Do you ever get concerned over the fact that it might prematurly age your face? Or with the fact that you can’t smell as well as you should be able to? or taste foods the way you’re meant to? Does it ever bother you that you have trouble quitting? That you’re addicted?

    I guess that was the biggest annoyance for me, the fact that it owned me. And I guess that’s what I mean by “enjoy being a smoker”, you really have to overlook a lot to claim you like being a smoker, health issues included.

    Good luck with quitting. I really really am rooting for you. I want you safe and sound and health forever and ever. :]


  12. I used to smoke. A lot. I really like smokers. Something about there devil be damned, live for the moment attitude appeals to me. When waitressing in school nobody wanted the non smoking tables because they tipped badly and complained frequently. Smokers seemed more laid back, fun, generous… But, I don’t smoke now, don’t want my kids to smoke, or anyone I love. I don’t want to have to smell the smell, or breathe the air.

    In my city, Edmonton, there was a news item today that they (non smoking activists) want to make all multi unit living spaces non smoking. That sucks. I think people should have the right to smoke in their home. I think this anti smoking push may be going a bit too far.


  13. i agree with the multi-unit living spaces being non-smoking.

    if you want to smoke in your own home—fine.

    but if you’re in an apartment/condo/coop, you can’t limit the smoke to your own section. it seeps through the cracks in doors, and through ventilation. smoke on the balcony and it wafts right into your neighbors.

    its not about desire to smell or breathe the second hand smoke, its about the forced imposition. a smoker deliberately opts in to choosing their behavior and consequences—a second hand smoker is forced to accept someone else’s decision.

    if you replaced the word ‘smoke’ with ‘radiation’ , people would line up like crazy supporting these bans. and i see a lot of parallels between ‘second hand smoke’ and radiation—in terms of health and exposure.

    anyways , i really hate smokers. actually, i despise them. i think they’re assholes. aside from screaming constantly about how its their right to make public spaces inhospitable, they litter like crazy. i’ve never once seen a smoker extinguish a cigarrete on something proper and toss it in a receptacle. they toss it on sidewalks, streets, the sand, and even the floor. on the off chance someone does extinguish in something other than an ashtray, its often rubbing it into the sidewalk or a table. score one for civility!

    actually, i realize why people like to be smokers now. when you identify yourself as a smoker, its like saying “i belong to club ‘I’m better than you’”, and becoming an official card carrying asshole.

    personally, i know how alluring that is. i’m a card carrying asshole of another kind (perhaps even the president of the club?). i can empathize with the enjoymnent.

    But I can’t empathize with the claim to a divine right to litter , or that the right to smoke for personal enjoyment outweighs the proven damage and increased risk to the health of bystanders.

    If you want to smoke, lock yourself in an airtight room and huff to your heart’s content. If you decide to leave that room, make damn sure I don’t get exposed to your byproducts. And when you’re wondering what to do with the cigarette butt, look for something called a “garbage can” ( also known as a bin, the trash, or a receptacle ).

    If you’re having trouble finding a garbage can, consider asking someone who isn’t wearing a diaper—people who are old enough to use a restroom generally know how to use the trash.


  14. I agree with you Jonathon about the littering. Especially when you sit your kid in the sand at the playground and they pick up a butt and shove it in their mouth.

    I just wish people could be more considerate and more tolerant of each other.


  15. we live in a three apartment house. And it’s supposed to be a nonsmoking building and mainly it is. However, our neighbors right below us, on the second floor like to smoke when they poop (at least I think that’s what they’re doing because it’s always in the bathroom, which is directly below ours). I can immediately smell their secondhand smoke and it drives me insane. It wafts in through our air vents in our bathroom and into our living room. I really don’t like it at all. It’s a good thing they only do it every now and again because I would complain otherwise. But I can deal with a smoke once a week, which is usually what it averages. Sometimes twice, but not often.

    Usually it happens on Sunday evenings and lasts for about half an hour. Every Sunday it turns my tummy and stays in our apartment for about an hour or so.

    It’s not fair, to be honest. It really isn’t. But, like I said, it doesn’t happen enough for me to complain. If it happened more, I’d really have to ask them to stop.

    Anyway, yeah the littering really sucks. The gum tossers could ease up a little as well. :]


  16. i hate gum tossers too !

    i don’t understand tossing gum in NYC. every 10 feet is a garbage can. sometimes there are clusters of them! is it so hard to AIM at something when you toss your gum?


  17. Mihow, i get your point. But i also love bacon. If i could eat a few strips (maybe 4) of bacon at every meal with no health implications, i might do that too.

    And yes, I despise being addicted. Thank god they don’t put all kinds of rat poison and stuff in bacon to make it chemically addictive too. Is it possible to love smoking but not love being a smoker?

    Anyhow, i’ve just about made it through day 2. Maybe now if i ever meet jonathan, he won’t kick me in the balls and push me down a flight of stairs…


  18. Jonathan is an angry, bitter man. Jonathan, you can’t possibly hate all smokers. That’s such a crazy, irrational thing to say.

    Anyway, Keith, I am proud of you. :]


  19. Wow. I have had such a hard time formulating an appropriate reply to this because it is such a huge and emotional thing for me.

    My dad was a heavy smoker. He quit in part because I starred in a girl scout play in which I talked about how much I HATED his smoking. I feel like I embarrassed him into it. My maternal grandma, who lived with us most of my life. smoked two plus packs a day from age 11 until just before her death of COPD and emphysema at age 83

    I had every reason to never, ever take it up, yet at age 19, in college, I began smoking. Stupid me.

    Through my 20s, particularly with my ex husband, I smoked up to a pack a day, and drank more than I care to admit. When I left him, I quit. For a year and a half I quit. I was incredibly proud of quitting. I moved away, started a new life, but had a huge amount of baggage – physical and mental.

    I lived with someone in Boston who was not great for me, but I didn’t smoke. When I left him, I lost 65 lbs, but he was so stalker crazy I got stressed enough that I started smoking again. The smokes were my comfort, my friend, the thing I could count on, rely on. They asked or demanded nothing of me.

    I should also mention that I live with a chronic health condition that I have tried everything (and I do mean everything) to deal with, and having a cig or three does help to relax my muscles, take the pain away so I can function, sleep, do what I need to do… I smoke 2-5 on most nights, rarely up to 10 a night, sometimes none at all…but when I need them, when nothing else works, they are there, and I hate it, and I wish like hell I could quit, but when it comes down to functioning and being able to work, able to move my limbs, able to be fully present for my husband, or not smoking at all… it’s a struggle. It is something I struggle with every single day. I have to think about what is the lesser evil. I hate it. I hate it every. single. day.

    I know my situation is not the same as other smokers, but I do want you to know that I completely understand where you are coming from, and I want to say that I very much do. not. enjoy. smoking. At all. It’s a goddamn (sorry) hard thing to quit, and I give major kudos to all who can, have, and are trying to. I hope I am right there with you someday.


  20. Smoking isn’t socially irresponsible just because of the mess it makes.

    In addition to the threat and imposition smoking poses to innocent bystanders, there is the cost that we all must bear to address its health effects. We all end up paying the bill for medicare and insurance costs associated with smoking-related illness through taxes, higher insurance premiums, etc.


  21. im like you mihow. you’ve mentioned sneaking cigarettes before, and ive rememered that because i do it and i feel terrible about it.

    now we have moved from California to Texas (as is – where no one smoked to where EVERYONE smokes) and so now the sneaking has turned into “seriously, lay off….” but I know that is wrong.

    I just bought the Allen Carr book “The Easyway..” and i really hope it works. I feel like such a slave.


  22. Oh, Carr just died. Such a shame. I do hope that he knows just how many people he saved. I read that book, too. It is/was outstanding. I quit for a year when I read that book. :]

    It’s fantastic. And may he rest in peace.


  23. The Carr book is great. Good luck Jenn blossom. You might want to look into “mindful meditation” for your pain. It might help.

    I smoked for 20 years and have been quitting off and on for the past two years… currently I have made it 2 months. The longest was almost a year. Smoking is a very social thing. Smokers are very friendly with other smokers- and often take breaks that they don’t otherwise get. At work now that I don’t smoke I never get a break. Smoking kind of forces you to stop and escape for a minute or two. I loved some cigarettes, but hated being addicted and the withdrawl…

    Non-smokers cannot possibly understand unless they have actually have been an addict. I didn’t start smoking at 13 thinking I would never become addicted- I did it to test boundaries and out of peer pressure and never did I think about what it would mean long term. 20 years ago it was alot different than it is today… and I was a kid.

    The two main reasons I keep quitting are that my boyfriend (like Toby) hates it (and fighting about it is way too stressful) and we want to have children. Honestly if we broke up today I would probably go out and buy cigarettes.


  24. Currently Not Smoking: I started at 13 as well. I very nearly hit the 20 year mark and it scared me. When I realized I was smoker for longer than I wasn’t one, I decided no more bullshit; I had to quit.

    Also, I hear hypnotism works for some folks.


  25. Mihow, I have tried everything except hypnotism. I joined a quit smoking program and went through 4 months of “smoking therapy” with an addictions counsellor. I used zyban, the patch, and nicotine gum. I went from thinking I would go crazy if I couldn’t smoke to my current state where I know I will be fine and it is a choice. The more times you quit the easier it gets.


  26. My mother smoked for years—from her early teens into her forties. I remember her smoking throughout my childhood, and how crappy it made me feel. Who knows if her thirty-odd years of smoking contributed to her breast cancer. Some studies suggest a connection between smoking and breast cancer, but who knows. There could have been other environmental and lifestyle choices, as well as genetics, that contributed to it. After 26 years of fighting it (2 mastectomies, hysterectomy, numerous other lumpectomies and rounds of chemo and radiation to fight it in her lungs and bone) she finally died 13 days ago from metastatic breast cancer in her brain.

    We live in a society that shields us from death and dying, so we rarely see it up close. But I tell you, if more people saw what it is like to die from cancer, some might have second thoughts about voluntarily poisoning themselves with it.


  27. I’m going to take my children to the hospital to meet cancer patients. Scare the hell out of them about smoking.

    Incidentally, I just watched An Inconvenient Truth on Saturday. I cried three times. One of those times was when Al Gore spoke about his sister(?), Nancy. He said something like, “Lung cancer is one of the ways you don’t want to die.” And it really hit me. I was moved.

    Not sure why I’m sharing that…. either way, if you haven’t seen the movie, see it. It’s outstanding.


  28. Question: do you think it’s easier to cut down in certain cities that outlaw it from in bars and restaurants? Personally, I do but I’m curious to hear/read what others think. Like the decision? Think it’s unfair? DC is about to do it as well. That shocks me as I always though DC carried a Libertarian view on things. But I’m happy to hear that the next time we visit we won’t have to smell secondhand smoke.

    I gotta tell you, when you get used to the nonsmoking thing in bars and then you’re in a place where it’s allowed, it’s freakish. I really don’t like it. I hate coming home with my hair smelling of smoke. Good thing those days are long gone here in NYC.


  29. hm. just found you via leahpeah, had to comment, hope you don’t mind ;)

    i started smoking at 13, i’m 23 now, still a smoker. probably started smoking ‘seriously’ at 15 or 16. i smoke less now than i used to, but i still smoke. but a pack lasts me a week, sometimes two, instead of a day and a half. i can go a day, or more without one, so that gives me the feeling of control over it. put alcohol in me and i’ll smoke the whole pack & then some however. put me in a room where i’m allowed to smoke and i will. [unless it’s my own since, ironically, i would never smoke in my own space since the smell of smoke is gross, obviously!]

    my mom always smoked. she quit when she was pregnant with my sister and started again, but now she only has 1 or 2 a day, and only when no one else is looking. when i was in elementary school we had the D.A.R.E. program. i came home to my mother bawling my eyes out convinced she was going to drop dead from cigarettes by morning. looking back i suppose it stings a little that she didn’t try to quit but, meh. at least she stopped smoking in the house.

    i remember in addition to that second hand smoke always gave me migraines.

    when i turned 13 i entered higschool, my grandfather died, and i wasn’t speaking to any of my friends. i started a lifetime of obsessive behaviors and depression, essentially. so i tried to fix it myself. i knew people smoked to relax so, i stole a cigarette from my mother’s purse. and that was the start of it. that same summer i would take up cutting, and that was my favorite thing. i have to admit i was really, geniuinely disappointed to learn how socially unacceptable that was, since i wasn’t hurting myself or anyone else, and it really did make me feel better.

    as a senior in highschool i took up pot, then pills, and carried that on through college.

    now that my only vice, besides organizing, is smoking, i guess i just don’t feel bad about it. it feels safe, and i feel like when i’m ready i’ll know i’m ready. but if i still need something and a cigarette here and there is it, then i’m going to have it.

    i honestly find it laughable when people bring up the health issue. no fucking kidding. i’m not impressed when a passer by will say something as ingenius as ‘hey didn’t you know that’s bad for you!’ yeah thanks, i wasn’t born yesterday. i’m also one of those people who thinks we’re all going to die of something, and for me i really don’t think my pack a week is going to be it. my grandfather was in his 60s when he died, non smoker, never saw him drink, healthy and then…a heart attack, never saw it coming, went in his sleep. my grandmother was near 90 when she died, surrounded by family, a former smoker, obese, diabetic, on more meds than i can count and having had more operations too. you just never know and i refuse to become one of those people that worries every little thing to death.

    i’m not ignoring the correlation or saying there isn’t one, but we have existed and lived plenty long before all these people went nuts about outlawing smoking. my dad hates smoking, never smoked a day in his life, and the time he caught me smoking was probably the most scared i’d ever been in my life. but he still went to bars & clubs where people smoked. he always just joked he’d have to burn his clothes when he went home. living in the city [boston] i can also say i feel sorry now for the neighbors, because all the drunk smokers get to stand outside being loud and dirty and overflowing into the streets because they can’t smoke indoors. and my experience has been even ‘non smokers’ smoke or don’t mind smoke when they drink, so i don’t get it. if you don’t want to work where there’s smoke, get a job somewhere else.

    and yeah i litter my butts. because there aren’t any butt receptacles hardly anywhere. where there is one, i’ll always use it. gum isn’t on fire, and i wouldn’t advise people throw things on fire into a garbage can that’s likely filled with newspaper and coffee cups. perhaps you meant put it out first, but really, you’ve got a commuter in a rush – either it’s not going to happen or it’s going to burn everything in there, or, watch what happens when someone stops in the middle of a busy street to put out a smoke and then pick it up again.

    and not to make this a novel, but seriously, let’s work on the drinking first because i’ve never known a cigarette to cause a fight or a car accident, and you better believe that effects me as a bystander.

    “Do you ever get concerned over the fact that it might prematurly age your face? Or with the fact that you can’t smell as well as you should be able to? or taste foods the way you’re meant to? Does it ever bother you that you have trouble quitting? That you’re addicted?”

    no. i love food, it tastes great to me. i have a non-smoking boyfriend that loves me whether i smoke or not, whether i’m all dolled up or looking like shit rolling out of bed in the morning with no makeup and a cold sore. i think too many people make smoking out like it’s going to take all of those things away from you when, it’s not.

    and i don’t believe in ultimatums in relationships, i think that’s cheap and mean. when i was still getting high all the time i started dating aforementioned boyfriend. i knew he didn’t like it, but i also loved that i also knew he would never, ever “ask” [“tell”] me to stop. so i had the conversation with myself, which is more important. drugs, or someone who will love me unconditionally. it was a great choice. and when i’m ready to make another choice about smoking, it too will be great.


  30. Charlie,

    Sorry to hear about your mother.

    Peace to all your family.



  31. I have to agree with most of what Stpehanie had to say :)


  32. Well, to each their own, I suppose. Personally, I am grateful for what my (now) husband (then fiance) did for me. I don’t feel what he did was cheap or mean, I feel he did it because he loved me, not to spite me or take away something that was actually good for me (or our future life together). And, honestly? He is more important to me than any cigarette will ever be.

    In the end, watching someone die from a smoke related illness is truly horrific. I would not ever want to put my husband or children through such a thing.

    And Stephanie, even though I disagree with a lot of what you’ve written above, I’m not going to argue with you on here, right now. I probably would have written the same thing when I was 23. Not that I know everything at 33 but I do know that a person changes a lot in their 20s and 30s both mentally and physically. I’m certain I’ll be a lot different when I’m 43, perhaps I’ll even be Republican. (just kidding) Either way, I do honestly think that one day you will change your mind about at least some of your ideas above, especially when you and your boyfriend/husband start talking about having children.

    I will say one more thing, however. The moment you wake up and your lungs hurt, or you can’t walk up stairs as well as you used to, perhaps your legs start to fall asleep a lot because your circulation is so poor, whenever some activity you once took for granted in your youth becomes less than easy for you because of the 15+ years you’ve been poisoning your otherwise perfectly healthy body, you might just change your mind about smoking.

    But, like I said, to each their own. Enjoy youth while you have it. I know that I am even in my 30s.


  33. I am strongly against smoking, have never smoked anything, have always hated it. For a lot of reasons including the insane amount of toxic waste that affects soil and water.

    Anyway, I usually tease my smoker friends by saying they can smoke around me as long as I can pee in their drinking glass.


  34. yeah, i think its pretty unhealthy to equate “unconditional love” with “okay with continuing to harm yourself.” im not okay with my husband continuing to put off going to the dentist. I would like to prolong my changing of his dentures for as long as possible. and i dont want to watch him in pain with dental problems. I dont think that means i dont love him with all of his faults (as an aside, I also dont think “unconditional love” is appropriate for marriage relationships…)

    i notice tobyjoe has been silent on this one…


  35. The concept of unconditional love is for morons.

    If michele started shooting me in the face every day, I wouldn’t love her.

    If she decided to spit on any concept of a pleasant future we might have together by smoking rocks, I wouldn’t love her.

    It’s tempting for everyone to step away from the pragmatic side of relationships and speak in hyperbolic terms about the power of love, etc, but it’s bunk.

    One of the things I love about michele is that she has proven time and again that she can subjugate certain destructive temporary desires for a chance at a longer and happier future.

    One of the things I love about her is that she isn’t a smoker and that I won’t have to relive what I’ve already gone through with several family members with her.

    If that changed, so would my feelings toward her, because she’d be a different person.

    That’s where the important point lies, folks: there isn’t an ideal you out there that is independent of your actions. There isn’t some perfect soul floating above your troubled sack of flesh.

    You are what you do.


  36. That’s right, Toby. And when your life requires you to do things like take care of kids or build a future with a lover, you have to make choices—sometimes permanent ones.

    So I would say you are what you do within the context of your social connections and responsibilities. If I see a 23 year old woman smoking with some friends outside a bar on a Saturday night, I would have a different opinion than I would if I saw a 30 year old woman holding a baby in one arm and smoking a cigarette.

    So just as there is no transcendent you independent of your actions, there is no pure action outside of your position/role in society.


  37. From someone who is in that “I don’t smoke anymore but I’ll take a drag off yours” stage, I agree with you completely. Never before did I understand what is meant by the phrase “powerless over an addiction.” It’s extremely powerful. And, ultimately, I think a person simply has to choose life and health above the addiction in order to finally kick it.

    I hope the person you’re talking about can find a way to quit. It’s a bitch, for sure.


  38. “i can go a day, or more without one, so that gives me the feeling of control over it.”

    That’s not control. Control is saying you can go forever without one. Whether its physical or mental, you’re out of control.

    “and yeah i litter my butts. because there aren’t any butt receptacles hardly anywhere. where there is one, i’ll always use it.”

    so do you shit on someone’s couch when the bathroom isn’t available too?


  39. so do you shit on someone’s couch when the bathroom isn’t available too?



  40. I have a feeling Stephanie is those people who doesn’t clean up after their dog.


  41. Sigh.
    I really should probably keep silent, as I have been so far, on this.

    But here I go anyway…
    I’m a smoker, first of all. I like smoking, but of course do not really like the fact that I am a smoker. I happen to be okay with it for the moment, however.
    I kicked using IV herion and cocaine and have been sober for 11 years. So why can’t I quit/haven’t I quit this addiction? It is my coushin, I admit that, but also need to point out that most of the commenters here seem to have no fucking clue what addiction really means.
    It isn’t about choice. It was a choice to start, yes. It is a choice to try to quit, yes, but most addicts need to hit rock-bottom (or be given an ultimatum like you got, Michele) in order to even consider quitting. We’re talking about a physical reaction in the body.

    And Jonathan, you are truly the worst kind of self-righteous asshole I’ve ever come across. Way to generalize. What do you think of all black people? What do you think of all Jews?
    I agree there are plenty of smokers that are fucking rude. I am not one of them. I never litter my butts; my pockets are full of them. I never smoke near anyone and never stand in doorways to smoke outside of buildings because I don’t want anyone going in or out to have to go through my cloud of smoke.

    I actually hate smokey establishments, and always have, believe it or not. So I have no problem with the ban and the current climate to protect non-smokers from smoke. However, i do have a problem with the lynch-mob mentality it seems to create. I never feel like such a leper as when I’m ‘caught’ smoking a cigarette outside.

    Michele, I love you. And I’m glad you quit. I will quit one day, and I know I can go to you for support.


  42. The scary thing about the rock bottom of smoking is usually rock bottom translates into “too late”. That’s the tricky part about smoking, in my opinion. Rock bottom with drinking might come in the form of totalling your car, or banging a herpe infested hooker while your wife is home with the kids. But rock bottom with smoking isn’t quite that loud.

    Last year I worked with a guy. His name is Jack. He was the sweetest, most amazing man. He was probably in his 60s, though, I am not totally sure about that. He had been smoking all of his life and you could tell from his voice. It was raspy and barely audible. He wasn’t able to speak for long periods of time. He told me that he had recently quit six months before and that he was having trouble but he quit because he was finding out about some serious health issues.

    His contract was not renewed at work and so he left after a few months. About a week after he left, we got the news that he had to have his larynx and part of his throat removed. The throat cancer spread so far, it was that or he’d die.

    I think about Jack often. His rock bottom gave him no choice at all. And he didn’t die. He is very much alive. And now there is no chance he’ll ever be able to smoke another cigarette. So, for him, hitting rock bottom was the end of all that. He wasn’t given the choice to quit. He simply had to.

    Now, he talks through one of those things that you hold to your throat. And he’s really angry about it. He’s not the same Jack, I have heard. It makes me sad.

    I have had other addictions. Hell, up until several months ago, I was worried I was drinking too much. I won’t go into all of the addictions I had but I do remember when I gave something up, I’d use the lack as a way to grant me the ability fill said once addiction with another. I’m not saying that everyone does that, not at all. But I have seen folks fill the void of one addiction with another one. Hell, visit any AA meeting; if folks aren’t chain smoking, they’re pouring coffee down their throats.

    I know I did that. Every time I gave up one thing, I’d fill said void with something else. Even if it was something small, like eating an entire box of cookies instead of drinking a bottle of wine, I saw this as justified, a reward to myself even.

    Now, I have an addiction to TV. It fills a huge void, one I used to fill with drinking or going out and spending exorbitant amounts of money. My TV addiction is troubling to me so I’m now trying to wean myself off a bit with reading.

    This cycle, for me, might never end. But I’m hoping that my replacements become healthier.

    I dunno. Just rambling at this point.

    And, yes, Sarah, since I know how hard it is/was, I’ll be here.


  43. Excellent point about the ‘rock bottom’ michele. DFACS won’t take your kids away for smoking, and it doesn’t volate parole.

    As for the NA/AA/group support of addiction substitution: believe it or not, it can work for many folks. Switching from one thing to something slightly less risky can be much easier than going totally cold for people that need addiction itself (in addition to a specific addiction).

    There just isn’t much of a (cultural) motivator for continuing to step down, and given that the ‘rock bottom’ for most smokers is the hard realization NOT that ‘we all have to die’ but that ‘we can have some degree of control over how we DON’T die’ it’s too late to bounce back.

    Rock bottom for arsenic poisoning is organ failure, after all. I’m sure those last few days of life would be arsenic-free, but what does that get you? Little more than a deathbed confession.


  44. Been thinking about something Sarah said regarding most of the commenters on here. I didn’t go back and reread all of the responses (read them all earlier, however) but I don’t think it’s fair to say that most of the commenters on here don’t have any idea what an addiction really means. I would say that maybe one or two people here fall within that claim but certainly not most. That seems a little unfair. But perhaps you were a little angry when you wrote that (at Jonathan).

    I could be wrong. And I’m not trying to upset anyone, but I feel that I had to say that.


  45. The point of rock bottom is that your condition finally becomes undeniable to yourself. As I mentioned above, my “rock bottom” came long before any medical crisis, fortunately. It literally shattered my compulsion to smoke. I simply don’t want to do it, even when I’m in the situations in which I LOVED to smoke.

    They’re all just words, but I’m having a hard time distinguishing between addiction, dependency, habit, compulsion, and indulgence. I think each has been described during the course of this thread. When I read Sarah describe her addiction to heroin or read her blog postings about alcoholism, I have hard time using the word “addiction” to describe the physical dependency on nasal spray that I had for years. Or even my years of smoking.

    And as far as smoking went, I could go weeks without doing it. But when I wanted a cigarette, I didn’t just want it the way I might want to eat a piece of pie. I needed it, and if I didn’t get a cigarette, I’d get angry, frustrated, etc. I can’t say I was addicted to smoking, but my desire to smoke was unhealthy and compulsive.

    Some of us ADD types need to keep the engine running high. We eat the chips until the bag is gone, stay out chatting and drinking wine until the restaurant closes, smoke a pack of cigarettes in a sitting, or play poker all night, and the more tired our bodies become the more we fight them with some sort of activity: Eating, smoking, drinking, fucking, picking at scabs, worrying about the bills, worrying about the future, regretting the past, fretting about the work that is always piled up, etc.

    I hope your loved one quits smoking soon.


  46. Okay, I will concede that I was a bit angry at Jonathann when I wrote my comment. ;-)
    Though while I thought Missy’s comment to start things off was a good one, her use of the word ‘morality’ set me off a bit as well. An addict isn’t a morally bankrupt person, in other words.

    I see your point about rock bottom, but also see in recovery that everyone’s ‘bottom’ is different, and may be for smokers as well. Yours was an ultimatum. A lot of drug addicts don’t hit ‘bottom’ until they are lucky enough to survive an overdose. Some not even then.
    It is a very good point though, and gives me some things to think about.

    And yes, a lot of people in recovery smoke and drink a shitload of coffee…I’m one of them. LOL. A lot of people move forward though, and quit smoking and eventually caffeine, too. I’ve seen lots and lots of people do that. It is helpful, as TJ points out, to have the smoking/coffee thing at first to get through the worst. The first year after getting sober is like walking around with your body turned inside-out.


  47. Charlie, in my opinion, addiction is specific to each and every individual. Obviously there are certain things that are physically harder to kick, like heroin, for example but that doesn’t mean that anyone else should be taken less serious for their specific addiction. That’s like saying to a depressed person, “You haven’t tried suicide? Well, then, you’re not that depressed.”

    Personally, I think addiction varies for each and every person. If one person is addicted to sex and another to crack, the addiction to sex isn’t less of an addiction just because it’s less physically addictive than crack. It’s an addiction. If a person sees it as much, then they should be taken seriously, no matter what it might be.

    I feel that if we start paying attention to some of the first signs of addiction maybe we can stop bigger, more destructiive ones from happening later.

    Quitting smoking, for me, was almost impossible for a while. I had so much trouble with it. I get frustrated when people say stuff like “the addition to nicotine isn’t NEARLY as bad as an addiction to opiates.” Like somehow my fight didn’t matter as much. They write it off as a lesser feat. For me, it was very serious. Those who quit anything that they otherwise have trouble living without do deserve a huge pat on the back and a big “YOU FUCKING RULE!” Rewards for even our smaller obstacles is what keep us strong.

    That said, I think you have every right to call your addictions addictions, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem. Plus, nose sprays are HIGHLY addictive.

    I guess I’m tired of being compared to other people. I’m even more tired of comparing myself to other people. After all, when it comes down to it, we’re pretty much on our own in life.


  48. Sarah, I used the word ‘mortality’, not morality.


  49. OMG, Missy…I’m such a freaking idiot!

    Please forgive me. I am so embarrassed!!


  50. as for the law and what does it mean to me? i feel the law is an horrible infringement on individual rights and more importantly on personal property rights(establishment owner)! it is a law of the rightgeous disguising personal preference over the obvious wrongdoer by claiming health as an issue and exposing ones obvious stupidity and disregard for personal wellbeing and those around them. it is a law imposed upon many by a few who have the absolute ability to remove themselves from a situation but choose not to do so, instead, they chose to complain and force the other individuals to change for them. it’s a squeaky wheel syndrome and this law is the easiest fix(at least the beginning of it). if the law makers cared about the smoker’s health, they would make cigarettes illegal. but instead they appease the whiners with a rule of law that does nothing more than postpone the next harsher law cracking down on the (as mentioned above, “lepers”) ability to smoke in private establishments. : )

    that being said, ban it, i love going to places that are smoke free.


  51. Oh greg, you confuse me greatly. But I love ya.

    Thing is, isn’t the government there to protect us? Or am I wrong about that. I’m actually asking.

    If people are really against it, they should pay more attention to who they vote into office, on the local level. no?

    I am entering territory I am not super duper familiar with here. :]


  52. take no offense, i direct my thoughts at no-one other than myself.

    i am a person who feels the best way to do something is to do it myself. i don’t want to force people to do anything and i definitely don’t want our government to force anyone to do anything either, we all know where that’s been and we choose to ignore it. i think we cover up our hatred for things by making them disapear. how we get them to “go away” is part of our personality. a smoker is a smoker…a ex-smoker is a smoker who no longer smokes. once this conversation went into the addiction phase, i am able to talk about what my understanding of being an addict is. anyone who’s ever been to an AA, NA ALANON etc meeting(like myself) will tell you that you are an addict until the day you die. there is a reason for this, it’s a sickness that becomes part of your personallity and you will always be fighting yourself until death.

    i am a smoker who no-longer smokes yet i do not preach to smokers. there are people who used to smoke that hate smoking because it reminds them of their weakness towards an addiction and the only way they can personally deal with this addiction’s affect on them is to remove what they feel is the problem, the cigarette for instance….

    but once again, anyone who frequents AA NA etc will tell you that that is only one part of the addiction, the other is the feeling, the place, the friends and all the things that are enablers of that thing called your addiction. AA NA is a support group and a blanket of sorts to help remove the world of addiction, not just the substance.

    the problem is, people don’t see smoking as an addiction when set next to crack or the other heavies and they choose to ignore its significance of addiction in their personality. (i’m no expert just an addict in denial)

    now we have non-smoking smokers who are drinking in a bar that they loved when they were smokers and loved the people who made that bar so unique to them and they were part of that environment, they “belonged” to something greater than themselves, something that fueled the addiction in their personality of feeling good about being bad and drinking and having a smoke talking about dangerous ideas……………

    but then one day they realised that smoking stinks and it really made them feel kind of crappy and then the late nights drinking too much and smoking too much got them to say enough is enough. but their addiction to the place never really left…the good memories are still there, the people with the dangerous ideas are still there but now so is the smoke and “smoking is bad” right! but they still want the other parts to exist, the dangerous talk and the friends and the drinking, the memories. so the desire for this to remain in their lives forces the one thing to be removed, the smoke… do we do this? get a few people to complain and back your annoyance up with facts about health issues of the smoker, when that doesn’t stick to the wall, talk about second hand smoke, when that doesn’t stick, go to the someone who “should be” looking out for us, the government and force those people to stop smoking but don’t do it in a way that that will cause an uproar. but the government can’t do nuanced things like Bar/Restaurant owners can. they have to blanket rule, they have to force all bars and resaurants to eliminate smoking from their “private businesses.”

    the reason i don’t like the ban is ban (legally)is because i ask myself this question, ” if it were such a huge swell of people who hate smoking, then why aren’t there “NON-Smoking” themed bars? i’m sure there are, but why aren’t they popping up everwhere. that allone should solve the problem on its own, but seems to me that it hasn’t. and my answer is what i stated above……the smokey hole in the wall draws its clientel to the dangerous talk the drinking and the environment itself. everyone has had their BArthat they felt was part of their place, no matter how chic or dirty it was. my feeling is that this smoking problem should solve itself if the people who complained about the smoke stopped putting them selves into the situation of being offended, but what they don’t realise is that they are still living part of that addiction.

    sorry for being long winded, since i stopped smoking i had better stamina harharhar. ; )


  53. Before I read that, I need to comment on your first sentence. I never take offense to the things you write, Greg.

    OK, now I’ll finish.


  54. i saw something on the news about passing a law that would ban you from smoking in your own car, and i remembered to come back here and read more.

    and so.

    “i can go a day, or more without one, so that gives me the feeling of control over it.”

    That’s not control. Control is saying you can go forever without one. Whether its physical or mental, you’re out of control.

    no, it’s not control, i’m well aware of that, you’re right. that’s why i said it gives me the <b>feeling</b> of control. perhaps i should have used quotes around the word to make my statement more clear.

    “and yeah i litter my butts. because there aren’t any butt receptacles hardly anywhere. where there is one, i’ll always use it.”

    so do you shit on someone’s couch when the bathroom isn’t available too?

    no, i don’t. but,
    a.) i don’t know anyone with a couch that doesn’t also have an available bathroom, and
    b.) i wouldn’t but a cigarette out on their couch either.

    nice try, but not comprable.

    also, to the person who thinks i don’t pick up after my dogs, i have 2, and pick up after both of them, every time. i think we can all agree that stepping on a cigarette butt is much different than stepping in dog shit, first of all. also, when i put out a butt and it doesn’t go in a butt receptacle because there isn’t one around, it’s usually on a busy city street, or on the highway or something. i’m not saying it’s right or it looks pretty, don’t get me wrong. but i’m not putting a pile of butts where numerous people would sit and talk about their hopes and dreams while eating a meal.

    and, like sarah [i think? i’ve read so many comments now] i am, if it is at all possible, generally a ‘courteous’ smoker. i don’t smoke outside my office, i won’t light up if there are lots of non-smokers and/or children around even if smoking is allowed, i don’t blow smoke in the face of a jogger going past or a mother walking her baby in a stroller, and i don’t smoke around our animals where they’re going to be breathing it right in. actually, one of my dogs used to love to eat cigarette butts and would search them out, so i’m well aware of not leaving them in a sandbox or on the ground where lots of people and animals may pass.

    lastly, i know i’ll learn alot, just like i’ll learn alot tomorrow and i’ll learn alot when i’m 67, and i hope you keep learning a lot too. to be blunt however, it does hurt my feelings when people think my opinions and thoughts are essentially null and void because of my age. that’s pretty bullshit, even if that’s not what you intended, and i hope you think about THAT when you think about having kids.


  55. lol sorry about that, hope you’re all good at IMAGINING html :P


  56. Sarah: no worries. It was an easy mistake. Just making sure you don’t think I view not smoking as some sort of moral crusade. (Now property rights, on the other hand…heh)


  57. Hey all I’m here lookin for a little advice. I’ve never really had this problem before and I’m terribly confused as to what I should be doing. I do realize its my choice in the end but like I said I’m just here for advice.

    I’ve been with my girlfriend for a few months now and I really love her, more than anything. Shes been a pretty big pot smoker and a “casual” tobacco smoker for a few years now. Up till about a week ago I had never smoked anything in my life. Last week however when I was with her she offered to show me how to smoke pot as well. Up to that point in my life I’d always looked down on drug use and smoking anything in general and I never wanted anything to do with it. However at that moment I simply couldn’t say no to her. Everything in my life I had thought about smoking and drugs went out the window and I just did it. I did it because when i’m with her I love her so much I’d do anything for or with her.

    Now she wants me to start smoking cigarettes with her. I really don’t want to start, it bothers me everytime she tells me shes wants to go out and smoke and it bothers me in general, however I feel the only way to get this issue to stop bothering me is for her to quit or for me to start. In my mind I’d start for her, I’d do anything for her. I’m just not sure what to do anymore. I know smoking is bad, i’m sitting here reading everything you guys are saying and the horrible horrible effects it has on people. It’s just if she offers to me, I won’t say no…..


  58. Tyson, if she doesn’t stay with you because you turn down something that’s clearly harmful to your health (and her own) then (and I hate to say this) but she’s not worth being with. Let her do whatever she wishes to do, that’s fine. If you want to be with her and she wants to smoke, then so be it. But you have a choice. Say no. Continue to say no. You two can continue to be together and you can can continue to be smoke free. If she’s not interested in that, go find another girlfriend. There are so many wonderful gals out there willing to let people be themselves and love them as they are.

    That’s my opinion. For what it’s worth.


  59. my girlfriend Indah was a smoker, or still a smoker I don’t know. She smokes two years before we started to date. about three or four months after our first date, she lit up a cigarette and I was literally dumbfounded.

    like a month ago, she had a surgery, one to remove a lump on her right breast, a start of a breast cancer so I’ve told. And she told me she’s been quiting ever since. said that she’s been cured now, some nights ago, when meeting her friend by accident, she brought the subject of taking two or three packs of smokes to Germany, for personal uses, and I don’t know how to react..

    she had a breast cancer removed, despite the understanding that smoking might probably cause a little of that state, but to smoke again after such state is just.. I can’t seem to understand it.

    it is probably that hard to stop.. to be honest I despise smokers, my dad smokes a lot, and he is something that a human should never be, dating a smoker – somewhere deep inside of me saying – is just wrong.

    We had a conversation last night about whether she has really quit smoking, she stay silent for minutes, and said she quit for good. I know she lied, she probably – like what the previous posts brought up – sneaks up some cigarettes most of the time..

    we’re thinking about getting married, yet is it weird or its just me? believing that she might started smoking again just give me that weird feelings inside, like anger, something like disappointment.

    I still don’t know how to react or what to do. she never smokes in front of me, is that enough?


  60. audy, it’s really tough. And I don’t have all the answers by any means. But I do know that Tobyjoe was as disgusted by my habit as it sounds that you are by Indah’s. He would be really disappointed if he knew I was sneaking cigarettes still. Because, here’s the deal, it’s not that he’s angry at me for smoking around him, it’s that he hates the idea of possibly watching me die one day of something I could have avoided. So, the whole “out of site, out of mind” concept really isn’t the case. Because it will catch up to her and no matter how many times you look the other way now this will face you in the future.

    That’s the part you need to think about now, in my opinion.

    Tell her you love her, you love her so much you don’t want to see her hurt herself. Tell her you want to grow old with her. :] It worked for me.

    But, like I said, I don’t know much about anything. I just know that I’m so grateful for what TJ did for me.


  61. Well Mihow, I’ve some good news and some bad news. Good news is I can stop worrying about smoking, atleast like I used to. I didn’t realize how upset and frustrated it was making me. Bad news is today Marissa offered me a cigarette, looked at me with puppydog eyes and I said yes, I liked it.


    1. Tyson, good for you. If you can’t beat them, join them, especially if they are the object of your love. When you’re both ready, you can try stopping but at least, for now, you can enjoy another thing you’ll have in common.


    2. Good for both of you! My girlfriend convinced me to start smoking so that can both quit together. Well, I now understand why she tricked me and, better, I don’t mind. Now we both understand the joys of smoking.


  62. I know a guy who, after trying to get his wife to stop smoking for a decade, ended up starting in order to accept it. She was happy and it removed the issue, eventually, as he became as addicted as she was. As such, he enjoyed becoming and being a smoker. Now they can plan to quit, when the time comes (or if it comes) together. True love….


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