Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Whilst I have mentioned this to a couple of people on the quiet its time to announce it to more people.
From February 1st, I will be a non smoker.
Big deal some of you say? Hmmm - yes it sort of is.
I started smoking when I was the ripe old age of 14 - thats mmfnmfd years of smoking. Sorry? - oh - mmfnmfd years ago.
No I am not mumbling - you are not hearing. MMFNMFD years ago.
OK OK - 35 years AGO!
It was the 70's, John Travolta was sexy as, guys wore platforms because they were fashionable not because they were short, hair was shoulder length, smoking was cool and a pack of cigarettes was around 25 cents
My sister - 26 - was living the life in Sydney. She and her so so hip friends would sometimes come home to visit and plumes of smoke would follow them around as they visited wineries and appeared to be oh so Sydney chic.
So at the ripe old age of 14 I decided I HAD to be as cool as my sister (yes I blame her and let her know this frequently) so I hid in the toilets of the shop my mother owned and lit my first cigarette. I don't remember it being foul at all - just difficult to master.
But I persisted the summer of 75/76 I started to go to the swimming pool every day - Mum and Dad were perplexed but happy that I had decided to do some exercise which would help lose some of my ever increasing weight. Pfffft as if I was going there to SWIM! I would sit on the grass and practise smoking slowly but surely practising the art of the drawback until I wasn't coughing up my guts every second inhale I could even blow a few smoke rings now THAT was cool!
My persistence paid off and within a couple of years I could smoke most of my school friends under table - cool right - yep - I know - TOTALLY cool!
Smoking became part of who I was and I was soon up to 25-30 a day quite comfortably. As prices went up and warnings started to emerge it had no affect apart from me cursing the government for taking even more money off me.
In my 20's the studies started to get headlines and it seemed that smoking - whilst still VERY cool maybe..well...was...sort of bad for you.
Not long after this restaurants started to having non smoking sections (at first these were a couple of tables hidden at the back) and our workplace became somewhat smoke free. Prior to that you could smoke away at your desk quite happily - ahh yes those were the days!
Smoking rooms became popular - at our offices the smoking room consisted of a table the size of a large desk, a clunking extractor fan and a permanent haze of smoke. Once more than 4 people got in the room the 5th and 6th could enter for free and not even have to light up - they just had to breathe in the clouds of smoke - bargain!
Then came the time that smokers started to be banished to the outdoors - workplaces became smoke free and restaurants also. Huddles of smokers would gather outside - quite often the restaurant had more people outside than inside. Back then the huddles of smokers were the fountain of knowledge this hourly retreat would always surface up some new gossip or fact that was privy only to that elite band of smokers. If you wanted know whether the boss was having an affair with the receptionist just ask a smoker.
Around this time things started to shift - initially I would get up from the table at the restaurant to go for a ciggie and at least half of the table would exit. Then it became a quarter, and then perhaps one other person occasionally. Eventually a smoking buddy was like finding a nugget of gold in a long since dead goldmine.
Disdain soon became the order of the day. I would find any excuse to leave a social setting - hmm just have to make a call, go to the bathroom, adjust my junk, pull up my socks, ooohhh look outside - its a rare white warbler - I must check it out! - eyebrows would arch and eyes would roll as I exited the room and fled outside to my one true friend - the cigarette.
Bars and pubs resisted for many years and only at the start of this decade did they also push the smokers outside. Graphic pictures of lungs and arteries and parentless children appeared on cigarette packs and newspapers shouted the dangers from every page.
As you can imagine by this stage my head was buried so deep in the sand all you could see were the soles of my shoes.
Side note - if its so bad for you why not just ban it ahhh yes the revenue. Revenue from smoking taxes still props up the school system and several other key public needs. For those people who curse smokers putting a strain on the health system please be assured that I have paid for any required medical treatment 10 fold or more.
A packet of cigarettes which used to be small change in your packet and now hits around $15 per packet a carton of cigarettes in Australia is becoming a major dent on your pay cheque.
Ha! I'll show the government I'll move to the Middle East where a pack of ciggies is 20% of the price and you can still smoke indoors well - in a few places anyways. So there!
Right then time for some statistics ahh yes I just LOVE this part!
Money spent on cigarettes over 35 years just over $180,000 based on inflation
Number of cigarettes consumed approximately 320,000
Time spent smoking (at 5 minutes per ciggie) just over 3 years continuously
If laid end to end how far would the number of cigarettes I have smoked stretch? I'll put it this way jogging at 10 k's an hour it would take you over 4 hours to run the distance.
Weight of tobacco smoked 687 lbs/312 kilos
Impressive huh and who says I can't apply myself when I want to!
But in a few short days these statistics will stop mounting up and I will be free of yet another demon.
For those of you who are concerned that I am giving up too much too quickly please be reassured I have been planning this for about a month and am lining up my ducks in a row to give me the best possible chance of success.
And if Feb 1st comes and I do not feel ready I will wait a couple of weeks and start then. Not because I am scared to stop but, because I am committed to succeed.