August 6, 2009

When I was 6 or 7, I told my mother that every cigarette she smoked took 10 minutes off her life and mine. Am fairly sure this was a random statistic I picked up from a government campaign, rather than any great insight I might have had. I do remember I truly believed it, and couldnt believe my mother didnt see how terrible it was.

When I was 12-13, my friend Michelle Redston passed me my first cigarette.  Even though placing it to my lips caused a coughing and spluttering fit, I absolutely knew, without a doubt,  that I looked cool, and sophisticated-in my dirty white school shirt, with loose tie, rolled up skirt, and ugly school shoes. Even though I was furtively looking around for teachers. As I had just been shoplifting, and had stolen 3 Galaxy Bars from the local Kwik Save- I knew that my new found aura of sophistication, and living on the edge would never fade.

Luckily, I did not have the means to buy cigarettes for another year-although I had had many sophisticated looking puffs on other peoples. When I had my first pay packet, a grand total of £15 for a days waitressing- I knew what to buy. 20 Benson and Hedges.  (The first full one of which, caused over 4 hours of nausea and vomiting-done in secret- and followed by head spins, every time I lit up, until I finally achieved the dream of beig addicted!) The struggle between the well founded belief I had had at 6, and the new found sense of cool I thought I had found in my early teens- is one that has existed throughout my life.

If you had asked me what I thought of smoking, this weekend, while surrounded by adults, in a backyard full of smokers- I would have happily told you that I love it. I love lighting up, I like the first cigarette after a great meal-I absolutely love lying there smoking, in post-coital fuzziness. I love sitting for five minutes, with a brew, on my front step-listening to the Radio, in the morning sunshine. And I do.

In every place I have ever worked, the smoking room is the place where the interesting people are, where you can have a laugh with the manager, who in her own office, makes you stammer. The news from the smoking room is always quicker, and more accurate than the news in the rest of the office. Asking for a light used to be the ultimate social lubricant.

But here is the rub. If you asked me what I thought of smoking, when my daughter reminds me to stop at the cigarette counter(Although she thinks we are buying other things), or when I am hiding in my bedroom for ten minutes, while she watches Dora The Explorer- or when she picks up a crayon and puts it in her mouth emulating those she sees around her. I am not as much of a fan.

When I saw that blue cross on the positive pregnancy test, I stopped smoking. It did not occur to me to smoke, I had no withdrawal- I just stopped. When she was born, because I was breastfeeding, it did not occur to me to smoke. THen, when cooking christmas dinner, after a particularly difficult few months, my stock turned brown. It was for white soup. It may say something about the stress of the festive season that this teeny straw, was enough to have me despairing enough, to stand outside, demanding a cigarette off my friend. By January 6th, I was buying a pack a day. Just like an old friend I hadnt seen in a while, smoking was back.

I justify myself by saying I dont smoke in the house, where my daughter is, but thats not really justification. And here is the crux of the problem. I know with every ounce of reason I have, that this habit is not good. It will probably kill me. It costs me money I dont have, it smells. Non Smokers can smell me a mile off- I know this from being a non smoker. Above all this though, I know, without doubt, that if I continue to smoke, I increase the chances of my daughter doing so, and of her spending her life- doing something that will damage her, shorten her life, and become a struggle that she has to bear too.

Yet go back to the paragraph about how much I love smoking- and those paltry reasons, most of which are an illusion, caused by the addiction itself-keep me smoking.

Well versed in(some dubious) research around addiction, I am fully aware that I am in the action stage of Prochaska and Diclementes cycle of change. I can recite a zillion differing strategies for recognising, treating, and dealing with addiction. Yet, here I am, pausing typing, to light another cigarette, because even though I know how bad it is, there is nothing that fills the moment, like lighting up a cigarette.

On my bathroom cabinet, there are several packs of nicotine patches. I shall definitely be looking at them again when I get home. I wish stopping with her as primary reason, were so easy this time.



  1. Your paragraph about how much you love smoking made me nostalgic :-/

    • Lol…thats the paragraph I come back to each time I try to put cigarettes in the bin… Definitely going to stop. Tisnt big or clever or sophisticated..or cool…..tisnt….

  2. In every place I have ever worked, the smoking room is the place where the interesting people are,


    SO true.

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