For the past week as I’ve driven home, my neighbor on the corner up the road from me is always outside. At around 07:25 each morning he is standing at the end of his driveway. At first I nodded acknowledgment as I drove past him, now I wave my hand and he waves back. He’s around my age, but clearly not healthy. Not saying I’m a pinnacle of health, but he is having his morning cigarette standing in his pajamas hiding behind the bushes.
I’m not one to judge why people smoke still in this day and age. There are many factors that play into this. I’ve noticed in certain cities, there is more smoking than others. Most of the West Coast is smoke free- from Vancouver to San Diego, but Alberta has clouds of cigarette smoke that people need to walk through. I remember Europe being like that as well. Some places are fully smoke free, while others still encourage a comforting nicotine fill.
I smoked steadily from 1994-2004. I started in my grade 12 year of school. I thought it was the cool thing to do (underage drinking was also). In BC at that time you had to be 16 years old to buy smokes. What teenager didn’t think it was a right of passage to do adult things like drink, smoke and get tattoos? Maybe it was just the people I hung out with then… But nearly everyone I knew smoked.
Western society snubs smokers and has been for some time now. It’s no longer associated with a casual good time with friends. Those ads and commercials ended in the 90’s some time. In Vancouver, Benson & Hedges sponsored the fireworks every summer. Not gonna lie, I enjoyed smoking B&H cigarrettes for a while. Their marketing did work, at least on me and my friends. Once Canadian laws started jacking up the prices and limiting the presence of tobacco companies, many people were feeling the effects of society telling them it’s not healthy.
When my wife and I got married, we did our best to not have our pictures taken while smoking or even holding a cigarette. We both knew that we wanted to have children, and that we wanted to be perfect role models for them. We wanted them to be able to look back on mom & dad and not see unhealthy choices. I have a couple photos of birthdays with my father having a cigarette next to a birthday cake. Not an image I want my children to remember me by.
My wife and I both quit smoking around the same time. I remember the exact day I quit. It was after a Halloween party at our house. I had smoked nearly a pack and a half the evening before. November 1st, I couldn’t breathe. It felt like I had crushed my chest and punched out my lungs. I couldn’t quite catch my breath for almost the all day. I quit that day cold turkey. I threw away the last of my pack of cigarettes. I was done.
I’m glad I quit. I haven’t had a craving to smoke again. I know most people can’t do it the same way I did. I also know that many have struggled for years trying to quit and just say forget it and keep smoking. That’s just the way it is some days. It’s not easy to quit. Personally, I wish I had never started and hope my children never do.