AddThis SmartLayers

Cigarettes? – the butt stops here

Tamworth Herald reporter Mark Cocklin loves smoking, but now he is hoping to kick the habit. Here he explains his decision to quit, and how he feels ‘naked’ without a cigarette…

I Was on the train to Liverpool when I heard my dad had died from lung cancer. He was a strong, hard-knock Scouser and he didn’t even reach 50.

Apart from anything else, it left me with the frightening knowledge that smoking will probably more than possibly lead to very bad things.

But you don’t think about dying when you smoke, that bit gets pushed to the back of your brain as you relax, maybe calm your nerves or just take a moment to reflect.

It’s part of what’s so good about smoking – as well as looking cool.

Smoking cool? Good? It’s about time someone said it – even though it’s flippin’ obvious – smoking is really enjoyable. Why do you think it’s so hard to give up?

And smokers are generally cooler than non-smokers who can be pompous, patronising, throat-clearing, whining bores who practice looking down their noses as they fake a disapproving cough. Sorry if I’m tetchy, but the smokers understand.

As the comedian Bill Hicks once remarked: “I’d quit smoking if I didn’t think I’d become one of you.”

Despite the unattractive smugness that goes with not smoking, it can not be denied that the alternative is likely to kill you.

And incoming legislation is guaranteed to make smokers’ short lives even less fun as the nanny state forces them to stand outside the pub when they light up.

Has there ever been a better time to give up the weed as the Government moves to make it increasingly expensive and less fun?

Who wants to be left outside, wheezing in the cold? Not me. I want to feel comfortable and warm with a pint in my hand.

Looking for help in my task, I spoke to Alyson Gardiner, the smoking cessation co-ordinator at Burntwood, Lichfield and Tamworth Primary Care Trust who explained how there all kinds of aids for quitters these days.

Smokers used to rely on mere willpower to loosen the iron grip of their addiction, but now there are inhalators, gum and patches to keep your nicotine levels at a tolerable level while you get used to life without cigs.

And there’s Zyban, a drug which apparently removes the craving, but it depends what you think will work best. I’ve gone for gum and it seems to be doing the trick. I am two weeks in now and still haven’t felt the twitching, sweating discomfort I was expecting.

I’m currently working on ditching the habit rather than the addiction. The psychological habit is as powerful as the chemical addiction if not more so. There are so many times in the day when I will feel like there is something missing without my ‘little tubes of delight’, as Dennis Potter called them.

My first anxious test was the first non-smoking trip to the pub. What would I do with my hands and how would I fill the gaps in between the drinking and talking?

You can feel quite naked without a cigarette and you wonder how you ever managed to live without them.

I miss the quick tobacco hit to the brain but the nicotine replacement approach seems to have stopped the desperate cravings of cold turkey.

I had started compiling a mental list of things that are better with fags:- coffee, booze, work breaks, walking, finishing a meal, waiting at bus stops, and so on.

Two weeks down the line and the awkwardness is diminishing.

At times the main motivation to spur me on past a craving is the thought of not wanting to go through the quitting process ever again.

A friend of mine who has quit at the same time says she is looking forward to the day when cigarette smoke no longer smells as good as a beef dinner but more like a pub full of old men whose limbs are dropping off due to gout.

It’s an admirable ambition.

Personally, I’m looking forward to being annoyingly smug. And old.

Back to the Sound Off index

Anything pushes your buttons? Heaven or hell, tell us what’s on your mind.
E-mail us now