Thursday, May 1, 2008


Two years ago I quit smoking. I didn't want to. I had to. For over forty years cigarettes were my best friend. They went everywhere with me. They were there through thick and thin.

I started smoking in my junior year of high school. My two best friends and I would meet before school at a cafe across from the school and have hot chocolate and a smoke together. We all took the school bus from different areas of the town we lived in, and because we took the bus, we always arrived at school thirty minutes early. The place was packed with high school kids eating, studying, and smoking. We weren't rebels, this wasn't a gang hangout. My smoking buddy Pam was the Student Body Veep. We were a true cross section...from athletes to geeks and nerds.

Now, we shared a pack of cigarettes. Pamela was our supply machine....her parents smoked Kent, so that was what we smoked. My parents smoked Pall Mall Reds and we needed something with filters. Pamela's parents never looked in her purse, so she given the privilege of being the keeper of our stash. Margaret and I would each give Pam a dime every Friday. That covered the cost of the cigarettes with a little extra for Pam's efforts. We each had one smoke every morning, and sometimes there were afternoon smokes when we had stuff like practice or rehearsals for school activities. Funny, every once in a while Margaret would ask Pamela for a "count" you know, like an audit of our stash.

My one or two cigarettes a day habit progressed over the years to a two pack a day habit. Cigarettes went from 19 cents a pack to over $5. Here are a few facts from my own perspective, from my own personal experiences. No one elses.

  • Raising the price and adding taxes does not deter most people from smoking. For most, it's a necessity. It's a staple.
  • Another sneaky trick......destroying your mom's cigarettes won't make her quit.
  • When visiting your mother when she's in the hospital with pneumonia. Stealing her cigarettes out of her purse when she goes to the bathroom doesn't mean she doesn't have any stashed (because she knows exactly what you will do when she leaves the room).
  • Once hospitals banned smoking, the stairwells were littered with butts from patients, nurses and doctors alike. It's a closet thing, we all knew who the others were. We all knew who we could bum a cigarette from.
  • Some patients were known to patronize the Del Taco across the street to have a smoke with their their nightgowns.
  • Telling children that smokers are bad people....and beaming when they point at a smoker and make that announcement, won't get them to quit. Much better to tell children smoking is bad, not people who smoke (my opinion).

In short, smokers smoke because they are addicts. Smokers quit when it's their time to quit. Really! Badgering, intimidation, belittling, scorning.....doesn't work. I tried the patch, gum, lozenges, hypnosis (three times), and support groups. Lots of money spent because while doctors tell you smoking kills, the different deterrents aren't covered by your insurance. The patches aren't covered, none of the things I tried were covered. If I had been addicted to any other drug, my insurance would cover rehab. Nice a spa. I actually asked my doctor to pretend I was a meth addict and put me inpatient...I'm serious!

How did I quit? After years of cursing God, (seriously, I did that) for allowing me to choose the wrong vice, I woke up one day and had no desire to smoke. God listened, and I had an epiphany (and yes, I did give thanks). It's the only way I can explain it. Being suspicious, I kept my cigarettes because I thought it was a "trick miracle". Every morning, I would get up, pour my coffee and stare at the carton......nothing! Yes, I wanted to smoke. Did I need one right then? NO. There were a few moments at work when I would get smokers brain freeze. I would call a smoker friend and ask them to meet me outside....."and bring your smokes". I would take one drag, and hate it...but I had to do it. And no, my friends weren't being bad, they didn't try to sway me either way, they understood. I say that because all smokers try to quit.

I was a product of the sixties. I didn't know anyone who smoked pot in high school but once I became a young adult, working, getting married having kids, owning a nice home in SoCA, I could name on one hand the people who didn't do pot. I was an odd ball. It was just the way it was. I didn't drink alcohol until I was in my thirties. I just didn't have a desire for it. Besides, my cigarettes satisfied my social addiction.

Even my doctor smoked. That's right, you could smoke anywhere....all professions had their smokers. Here, let me put a bit of reality satire into this post.

More vintage ads to show how far society has come. Some will make you gasp. Like these athletes:

Or actors who became President touted them.

This man wants to be President. He also wants to quit smoking. He has quit several times. It may have happened for good. Maybe not. Either way it will happen. In the event that he calls a friend and tells them to meet him outside, and bring their smokes, don't bug him.
Now.........I have to get ready for this:
That's right, aqua aerobics class!! Huh? That's not how you do it?

If you actually read this whole entry you will know that this tale is one persons experience, opinion and imperfect view. I'm like totally PC that way.


heartshapedhedges said...

Congrats on your 2 year mark, Grandma J!!

I always thought you quit so that you could still have contact with your grandkids. Maybe that is why God performed the miracle, so you could see Pooper, Beauty and Little One.

and you must have some amazingly, wonderful children to try to get you to quit, even risking the wrath of their mother. I say, "good try" because, if I caught my son with, "meth" Id throw that away too.

BTW, I dont teach my kids to dislike smokers, but Pooper has been known to tell them, "you shouldnt smoke, you could get cancer. I had cancer and it is not fun to throw up a lot and have needles in your back, and you can die from it." I say, way to go Pooper!

um...if you really want to give your readers a funny story, perhaps more *good times* with your friend "Margaret", did she ever come to any of your birthday parties?? Im hysterical just THINKING about that one!

Some People Call Me Mom said...

Do you know that is one of my biggest pet peeves! We are constantly explaining to our school aged kids that just because someone smokes, doesn't mean they are a bad person. Schools have really seen fit to put smoking right up there with crack and meth. I'm not saying that smoking is good for you, but a little perspective would be awesome.

Congratulations on 2 years. That's great - and I'm sure the grandkids appreciate getting to see you. :)

Anonymous said...

We congrats Grandma Ja on your 2 year success.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you. Treat yourself to something frivilous and fattening.

Karen in GG

I Really Ought To Be Doing Something Else... said...

Yay to 2 years!! Congratulations! And, BTW, send your paperwork my way anytime!

The Running Girl said...

I happy for you for being able to quit. My father-in-law smoked for 40 years and died of lung cancer in 2003. You are right when you say that smokers aren't bad people, but smoking is bad for you.

Hope you enjoyed that aqua aerobics!

Rachael said...

Thank you for this. I quit two years ago with three relapses so far. I've had friends suddenly realize that I smoke and be horrified that they exposed their children to such a demon.

Sadly, hate the sin, love the sinner doesn't extend to this kind of addiction.

I think you've spoken very well. So call it at least two peoples opinion.

David said...

I loved this post!
And thank you for your kind comment on my blog.
It means a lot to me, it really does!

Anonymous said...

Good Job Grandma J! Very impressive!