Well, we’ve talked about dieting at the water cooler before (and don’t worry, we’ve talked more about that since, and I’ve got an update for you), but we hadn’t quite gotten into other habits before. Until now. The other day at the water cooler the topic of smoking just came up out of the blue, but we all had something to say about it. I guess I hadn’t realized before how many people I come in close contact with who are smokers or used to be smokers. And I think the others never realized that I too used to be a smoker. It’s funny how you really can’t tell unless you see people actually smoking. So, here’s what we had to say about it (names are changed to protect identities).
Sandy (37, former smoker): I smoked for several years, but I didn’t realize I had a problem until I saw how many cigarettes I went through each day. At first it was just a social thing, when I was out with other people, I would bum cigarettes off them, and I did it so much that I started feeling bad and bought a pack just so I could reciprocate. Before I knew it I was buying a carton a week and smoking almost constantly. That’s when I finally realized I had a problem, and I needed to figure out a way to stop. Eventually I was able to stop, but only after I tried everything possible to quit. But I’ve been clean for six years now and I’m never going back.
“I can barely breathe the air I need to justify why I sink so low to get so high. I can’t kick the habit.”
Jennifer (25, smoker): I never thought smoking was an addiction, not all through high school. I just thought it was cool, and I hung with people who all smoked, so I started doing it. And I was hooked, even though I didn’t know it then. And yeah, I started smoking with them, but when I found myself smoking when I was alone, I knew I had become a real smoker. And while I know it’s a bad habit, I can’t seem to stop. Actually, I don’t even want to stop because it feels good when I do it. Maybe someday I’ll try to stop, but for now it’s just a part of who I am. I smoke about two packs a week, so it’s not as bad as some people anyway.
“One foot in heaven, one in the hole. I’m out of focus in a poison picture show. I can’t kick the habit.”
Bjork (40, non-smoker): Smoking was never really an issue for me. My friends didn’t smoke, and we had fun doing so much other stuff that it was never really an issue. And in college there were a lot of people smoking, but again it was none of my friends. Plus, I just always thought it was a nasty habit, so I wouldn’t have done it anyway. And even when I was around people who were smokers, they knew I wasn’t, and they never tried to pressure me. That’s one thing I really appreciated. People always talk about peer pressure but I never really had that when it came to doing things like smoking (cigarettes or otherwise), so I’m glad I was around people who accepted my decisions and didn’t try to pressure me.
Me (36, former smoker): I smoked for about a year in the early ’90s, but it was entirely social smoking, and second-hand smoking. Did you know that there is a second-hand smoking movement? It’s a real thing. People who hang out with smokers, but they don’t smoke themselves, that was me after I stopped social smoking. I honestly don’t think I was ever addicted because when those friends moved along I didn’t even have the urge to continue second-hand smoking. And I think that was a blessing, because after hearing all these people talk about how hard it was for them to quit, or about how hooked they are on the stuff, I know it could have been a much different story.
The one thing that it seemed we all agreed on was that smoking is definitely an addiction, and a pretty big one at that. It can usually start as the result of peer pressure, or wanting to appear “cool,” and it is generally hard to stop. Everyone seemed amazed that I didn’t have that addiction since I was smoking pretty much steadily for that year or so I was a smoker. I guess I was lucky, but I’m not going to play with fire and see if it won’t happen again. Those days are behind me, and I’m glad of that. Very glad.