This post is different from my usual posts. Today, may 31st, is no tobacco day, and I wanted to share my experience here from the time I used to smoke.
Like most people who got hooked, I was young (maybe a little younger than usual) when I tried my first cigarette, around age 14. At 15 I was a smoker, though at first, 3 to 5 cigarettes a day were enough for me. But like any addiction, as days became weeks and weeks months and then a year, the number of cigarettes increased to half a pack a day, sometimes more. By then I would do water pipes (shisha) as well, strawberry flavoured, sometimes cherry flavoured, sometimes apple.
By the time I was 17, I was at the peak of my life, enjoying being a smoker (yes, I knew it was bad for my health), doing a pack a day, with no signs of slowing down. By the time I was eighteen, I would smoke around a pack and a half, sometimes one or two more, sometimes one or two less.
But by then I had my doubts, and decided smoking wasn’t all that fun anymore, so I throttled back to a pack, then half a pack a day.
Between 18 and 21 I was oscillating between that half pack to a full pack, but never more, never less. And then at 22 I finally found the will power and determination to quit and go cold turkey.
I remember that morning in March when I decided that was that and stubbed out the cigarette halfway through.
I moved away that same day – different house, different city, different people. I changed my habits – started eating a full breakfast every day, avoided people who smoked, no more coffee and hot drinks, no more idle lazing around (so the craving wouldn’t occupy my mind).
The first month was the worst.
The headaches came first, during the times I routinely had a cigarette: in the morning, with a cup of coffee, after lunch, before dinner, after dinner, before bedtime – basically, for the entire day. But I was determined, and so I held on. Slowly the craving… didn’t lessen, but it wasn’t as bad, the headaches not as spiky, or it could be I got used to it. And then a month turned into two, then three, then six.
The urge to smoke was always there, the need to light just one and settle frazzled nerves, to soothe anxiety, to fill in the habit I once enjoyed so much.
But I never gave in.
Three years later I started drinking coffee again, and the craving for one more puff would appear suddenly, but it was easy to ignore by then.
It’s been now 13 years, 1 month and 28 days since that last half cigarette.
I have dreams at night that I still smoke, and whenever I do, the phantom craving will be there in the morning, giving me a sense of nostalgia, the need to know the what if I gave in, or hadn’t moved away, or hadn’t changed my routines so completely.
Today, may 31st, is no tobacco day, and I wanted to share here that it’s possible to give it up, if you’re determined enough and believe you have the will power to be stronger.