Friday, November 09, 2007

Scoffers and Brats

Today is Smoke-free Day 144.

I had to laugh yesterday when I posted encouraging folks considering quitting to consider doing it with lots of others one week from today on Thursday, November 15, 2007 for The Great American Smokeout Challenge, and then I was reminded by Bob and Tasina in the comments on that post how funny it is that I'm actually doing my part to promote this kind of thing (sheesh, links much?).

I actually did get a giggle out of it (without coughing now that I don't smoke) when Bob said he used to scoff at such propaganda and Tasina used to be bratty and smoke even more on that day. I laughed because that was me, too, for so, so many years.

My perspective on smoking has changed so much over the years.

At 12, when I started smoking, I didn't care that it was harmful. I was bent on self-destruction and somehow believed I'd be dead by 18 anyway. Considering how I acted, I'm a lucky girl. This was mostly more of the same into high school where it was the stoner thing to do to be a smoker hanging out in the smoking lounge (yes, we had one, crazy, I know), and it looked cool with all that black eyeliner and attitude I wore. Even if I was so very not at all cool.

I wound up in a non-smoking dorm in college likely because I was either mid-quit for a day or two when I filled out the form to choose or was experiencing some wishful thinking, but it didn't really occur to me at that point that there was really any good reason to quit. I was still so young. Everyone I knew smoked, and so did I, just not in my dorm room (well, except for that one weekend when my roommate was gone).

Then Japan. Smoking everywhere was OK at the time. I worked in public schools. Those that didn't have a smoking room just let you smoke at your desk. I took stupid pride in being told that I'd won smoker rights for women in the high school where I worked for 2 years because I didn't realize that I had been smoking only with men until I'd given one woman who smoked in secret the courage to join. It never occurred to me that my students saw me smoking *all the time* when they had to actually walk into the smoking room before class (in keeping with the tradition that a class sends a student from their homeroom to collect the teacher from the teacher's room - or smoking room, I guess - to bring the teacher to the classroom). So much for setting an example. I still thought I was cool and immune from the dangers.

Then home from Japan. While I was gone, smoking had started to get super restrictive in the US, and I thought it was crappy. I couldn't believe that people couldn't smoke at Wendy's, so I wouldn't go there. Eventually most places were like that, and I resented it. I still have some mixed feelings for another post on another day since this is already bordering on ramble.

Through most of those stages, my attitude was pretty much Great American Smokeout, my ass, complete with the scoffing and brattiness expressed by Bob and Tasina.

Then came the years when I would try quitting once in awhile with varying degrees of success, meaning that one time I quit for about 3 months and once for over a year, but I always wound up smoking again. Still, every year I would get just a little bit older, and with that would come a combination of common sense, wisdom and fear that would meld together in such a way that I knew I wanted to quit before Something Bad Got Me. Want is kind of a strong term. I wanted to be able to snap my fingers and be done, but I did not want to have to work at quitting smoking. Besides, I *loved* smoking - and P.S., I still would even now if I didn't have so many reasons to get and stay quit. Once I heard about Chantix, I felt ready to give this quitting thing a go again sooner than I otherwise would have, and yay me, it worked.

Sitting here on the other side of quitting smoking with all of that old dread of quitting and the romanticizing of smoking now behind me and replaced by confidence that I can really do this and that I'm not even pissed off about not smoking (most moments, most days), I do want everyone to be able to experience life after cigarettes. It's from that place that I now promote the Smokeout day thing instead of reacting to it how I used to as some kind of joke.

I promise to never condescend anyone who smokes or become "one of those" kind of self-righteous and pompous non-smokers who feel it's OK to go out of their way be rude to smokers because smoking is bad (it's not OK - rude is still rude), but if I can say or do anything to encourage anyone to go ahead and give quitting smoking a try, I'm all over it, and this is a great opportunity, now that we're beyond that whole silly scoffing and brattiness that I'd almost forgotten.


  1. Maggie,
    Hi its Leslie. I e-mailed you right before I started the Chantix and its been about six days. I am the person who started my quitting journey for the God knows what...fifth or sixth time on the patch. I am staying on the patch most of the time until I hit quit day which will be on Saturday. I am only on a 14 mg patch and am trying not to smoke since I have pretty much began stopped minus the slips! I sctually smoked yesterday after ait being about five days and it tasted like something off the bottom of someones shoe! Pretty amazing since I am a die hard thirty year smoker!
    Anyway, we have some major similarities in stories. I also am a teacher and went to school back in the day when students could smoke in the "smoking area." I was a stoner who went to continuation school so they let us out for "smoke breaks..." go figure! I was like the scoffers who figured The Great American Smoke Out was brainwashing and bullshit! I was pissed that "my rights were being taken away as a smoker" and simply did what you did and did not frequent places where I could not smoke. I am glad that I got some sense into my head and have decided that I am sick of being a slave to big tobacco Marlboro to be really specific. I was in my stop smoking class and figured out I could have bought quite a few cars or at least a condo by now with thirty years worth of savings that I gave to Phillip Morris Company. Also, it didn't hurt that there was a guy in the class who recently had an emergency bypass and showed us his very narly scar. I have a lot of reasons to want to end the insanity of being a slave to tobacco. Lets see, booking flights with a layover, running out of the airport smoking a cigarette, going back through security and hoping to catch the ajoining flight.....almost missing it because I could not light up! Lots of fun...I think I can live without that type of fun. I have done more insane things to be able to smoke but that one is the one that most recently comes to mind from last summer.
    I can relate to all those who want to hold on to their right to kill themselves with tobacco. I did it for years and hopefully this will be the last time I will have to quit. I know until a person really wants to stop it is not even worth nagging at them. I mean come on, even the most addicted smoker knows it kills.
    Anyway, this is the first blog I have responded to and I am starting my own. Since you are so far ahead of me, maybe you can check in on me and help keep me honest. Keep up the blogging. It has helped me tremendously.

  2. Leslie, I am glad to hear that you are still committed to quitting, and I do look forward to reading your blog once you get going. Lots of us keep each other going.

  3. Oh amen to that on the whole thing, Maggie.

    I had to go out to lunch to eat with the office today because I flat *knew* if I stayed in the office, I'd be hauling myself down to the convenience store to buy "okay, just one more pack, just for this weekend, because the kids are gone."


    I'm going to still be whining about this not smoking thing for awhile. Please bear with me :)

  4. Amanda, I still whine in my head sometimes, too. It does get better.


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