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.