"The filter's the best part. That's where they put the heroin."

zara's picture

I had my first cigarette when I was about 12. I rifled through my grandfather's ashtray to find one that was mostly intact. We were at my grandparent's house for the holidays and I wanted to give it a try.

I snuck to the side of the house with a couple of stick matches and the half snubbed butt. Lighting it, I puffed tentatively on the end. I didn't know what the fuck I was doing, and didn't inhale. The taste was bad and I was scared that I was going to get caught by another member of my family, so after a couple of pseudo drags, I ground it out and fled for the bathroom. I gargled mouthwash and doused myself with some stank perfume, then shook like a leaf in fear of being accused of smoking.

It wasn't until I was 17 that I started smoking "for real." It was then that I learned to actually inhale and it took me some time to get used to it. Almost all of my friends were smokers and being Navy brats, most of their parents were smokers as well. I learned that I could blame the smell on being at their homes and my mom believed me.

I took to smoking like the proverbial duck to water. I liked smoking. I liked that I was doing something that my mother had beaten into my head not to do. I liked the headrush that it gave me when I did. I liked having something to bond with other people over. I liked the concept of smoking.

I smoked steadily from 17 to 22. It was then that I was first living on my own. After a year of trying to figure out how to juggle my expenses, I realized that the quickest way to save myself a chunk of change was to stop smoking.

It wasn't hard. I am hard headed and stubborn. When I decide to do something, I do it. So I quit cold turkey. I didn't buy any cigarettes and I didn't really have any strong cravings. I just convinced myself that I didn't want to smoke anymore.

I would allow myself the occasional stick at a party or bar; that old "social smoking" stand-by. It was only one or two, and only if I had a drink in my hand. I cruised along like this for a couple of years. A few months before my 25th birthday, I picked up the habit again. There was tension at work and tension within my internal emotions, so I fell back on the one thing that had always been true to me: tobacco.

For those of you who have never smoked, you couldn't possibly understand that an addiction to smoking is more a psychological thing than anything else. The effects of nicotine on the brain and the calming effect on the nerves. Smoking is soothing when you're stressed.

I discovered that I was pregnant with Midget shortly after picking up the habit again and promptly dropped it. There was no way that I was going to poison someone without their permission. It wasn't a problem for me. I quit cold turkey again, except this time there was no occasional butt at a party.

When I started the job that I work at now, right around the time that Midget turned 2, I started smoking again out of stress. It's been about 4 years since then. I've had a 4 months patch where I quit cold turkey, but for the most part, I've firmly settled into being a smoker again.

I was asked recently why I smoke. I started to throw out the usual defenses, about it being calming when I'm stressed, etc… but the truth didn't lie in that. I don't know if it ever has. I have an oral fixation. Even when I'm not smoking, I'm always sticking things in my mouth. I smoke because I LIKE to smoke.

I like lighting a cigarette. I like inhaling and exhaling with precision. I like the headrush. I like the act of smoking in and of itself.

Do I like that it makes all of my clothes stinky? No. Do I like that it makes me feel horrible when I'm sick? No. Do I like that it costs me money that I could possibly be putting toward something else? Of course not.

But I feel no guilt about liking to smoke. I won't justify it any more than that. I just like it.

There will come a time when I quit again and the next time could be the cataclysmic last time. I would be willing to quit for someone that I loved. I would be willing to quit if Midget ever walked up to me and asked me to. I know that the normal line of thinking is that you need to quit for yourself or the success rate is much lower. I believe the opposite.

For now, I shall sit outside and suck down some cancer before heading in to write. I shall use it as an excuse to get away from obnoxious people that I can't stand because I know they hate smoke. I shall do it to annoy the activists who scream that I shouldn't.

I shall smoke because I damn well WANT to.

Discussion of the Day:

Smokers: What's your take on your habit? Have you ever tried to quit?

Former Smokers: What did it take to get you to quit? Do you think that you might ever go back?

Non-smokers: Don't fill this area with a bunch of sob-stories about people dying from cancer. We all know that happens. Perhaps you could explain a time when you thought about smoking or tried it and it didn't "take."

* The title is a quote from which comedian?


Eulalie_Cholmondeley's picture


I first smoked a cigarette at the age of six or seven. A bunch of my older cousins thought it was cute to give me a fag. I did not inhale.

I began smoking at the age of 13. I used to smoke Dunhills in the red pack occasinally English Ovals. In california I discovered clove cigarettes whilst staying in a malibu rehab.

what do you smoke Zara?

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