Sunday, January 2, 2011

What Kind of Smoker Are You: The Reply

 As you know this blog is the spin off/continuation of my book, How To Stop Smoking Without Killing Anyone.  The other day, I get an email with an opening paragraph that said this:

Hey... so I wrote a reply to your article but apparently it's too long LOL... The system won't post it because I have too many characters. I figured instead of rewriting it or scratching it altogether I'd just send it to you direct, do with it what you will.  :-)

The article/blog was called What Kind of Smoker Are You?  In it is an examination of smoker types.  I sent this one out to a few friends who I know to be smokers and non-smokers, looking for additional insight.  One reply that followed was worthy of a blog of it's own...  and apparently too long to be just a "comment."  So without further to-do, allow me to present the "comment" in it's entirety.

In the spirit of this article I decided to make a list of typical smoking times/places to see if I could find my own patterns.

-Doing homework
-After a movie
-After a TV show
-With coffee
-With alcohol
-While on the phone
-During lunch- in fact, my lunch break became an hour long smoke break where I could usually get between 3-4 of them in and I’d just run through Del Taco on my way home in the evening instead of actually eating lunch on my break.
-The drive into work
-The drive home from work
-Watching the sunset/rise
-While at the beach- I was deeply offended by the no smoking laws on the beach that were enforced recently…
-If I was sad, if I was angry, if I was happy…

I was never afraid to quit but the honest truth of it is I like to smoke. I like the feeling of it, the heat, the fire of it, the draw and the weight deep in the hidden corners of my lungs being filled with a long drawn breath, the resistance of it and the essential quiet that comes with it- taking that moment to breathe deeply, exhale deeply… there’s nothing like it.

I didn't really have a pattern and I don't think I'm really a 'type'. I found all sorts of excuses in positive situations and negative. Mostly negative, though because smoking veiled all the bad things, glorified them in a fog, turned horrible situations into romantic ones. A break up- once a bitter angry moment suddenly becomes a scene right out of a movie. The death of a loved one- horrible and shocking, becomes a quiet moment of reflection where once again, you can cut and paste it directly into any number of films. Smoking becomes an extension of the personality, it becomes a gesture, a facial expression, it’s own words and sentences. Sometimes smokers don’t even need to speak, it’s all in the way you hold it, the way you take the drag, the way you exhale is a conversation and only those in your private world can understand you.

As far as the list goes, I was a recreational smoker, an emotional smoker, a coffee and cigarettes diet smoker, a situational smoker and well, the alcoholic smoker was omnipresent throughout all those others. I was also a spiritual smoker- after tarot readings, using it instead of food to “come down” afterward, hell I have even been known to use the smoke from my clove instead of sage to cleanse a space for readings from time to time. 

Because I only smoked cloves, I felt sort of… above the influence. I didn’t smoke “regular” cigarettes so I felt that I was immune to the issues of smokers. I didn’t think I was addicted. Yeah, I know how that sounds. I really didn’t. I thought, I smoke because I like to, not because I have to. I thought that until I decided to “quit.” Only then did I learn how much of a smoker I actually was.

I am a smoker. About 10 years before I started smoking, someone once told me I was destined to smoke because I was a pyro. So yeah, I had a thing for the flame, candles, incense, and firelight on an open hearth, a camp fire with burning coals shining like priceless jewels in some lost Arabian treasure. The idea that something so gentle and brilliant could also in the same instant be painfully destructive and deadly was fascinating to me. So yeah, I love the romanticism of firelight in any form, the historical, time travelling, deliciously romantic feeling of it in any form. It only made sense to want to consume it, to become it and smoking is as close as anyone can get to fire without it burning.
Such a romantic, aren’t I? Except it does burn. That was sort of what I liked about it. When I was depressed, the burn of the smoke in my body felt like a cleansing veil, consuming the pain, consuming me… then you add Mr Daniels to that little party and its self-destruction on cloud nine, all the time, baby.

A clove and a mocha, sunset and a book and it’s a picture worthy of recording. Or with a glass of red wine, with a Jack and coke or just the Jack… there are a thousand ways to pair it I could write a book on ways to make your cigarette more tasty! LOL… 

The point is, I didn’t quit. 

I came to terms with the fact that I am a smoker. Through a long history of falling for smokers and drinkers, those damn romantic boys with the silver tongues, scotch in one hand and a smoke in the other… heh… yeah, I’m always gonna be a smoker and a special place in my heart will always exist for the persona that just as you said, lives and glorifies the romanticism of the act. 

I stopped smoking because I wanted kids. I wanted them to be healthy and live in a home that was healthy. I won’t hide the fact that I used to smoke to them, in fact I’m sure I’ll be blatantly honest with them about it in hopes that they can learn from it. I can’t call it a mistake, but I can call it a lesson.
It’s been almost a year now- January 8th, in fact… And yeah, there are moments I want it, oooh man do I want it… I still have two sealed cartons of smuggled in cloves (after they were banned from the US I ordered them online) in my freezer. Will I ever take them out? Heh, I have no idea.

I completely agree with the chemical aspect, the psychology is hands down irrefutable. I read an article during my studies in psychology about children with ADHD growing up to become smokers and how this correlation is highly understated. Nicotine calms the brain, even as it stimulates it. We are self medicating even when we don’t realize it. The basic idea was backed up in my bio-psych class where it stated the part of the brain affected by nicotine is the same part that is stimulated while with loved ones. If we’re depressed or otherwise psychologically damaged, we are replacing real love with cigarettes. It’s a pretty easy concept but you’d be surprised how many people think I’m nuts when I tell them… 

Anyway, a lot of truth exists in the concept of these many types of smoker, but ultimately if we don’t deal with our demons, we will never allow ourselves to move away from smoking. Also, on the subject of demons… people try to give the cigarette a personality. It’s a demon, pressing on our will power. It’s got a grip on us. No, silly.. you have a grip on your will power and you’re not ready to make the move. When we can admit that, we’re one step closer to putting them down.

Ok that’s all I have to say. LOL… sorry for the rant and thanks for the article!

And thank you for the reply!  If you enjoyed this comment/rant and would like more, please check out Ishtar's Web.  And if you too have a comment that is too long for posting, please email it to me at and I will see to it that your thoughts are made known.  As always, this blog is also a forum for you the reader and smoker to clear the air (so to speak) and over come addictions, fight compulsion, and eliminate the bad habits that keep us from our dreams and goals.