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Farewell, my lovely

I have been asked on more than one occasion why I smoke cigarettes. The answer is all too simple. I smoke cigarettes because I enjoy smoking. No, I love smoking. I love the film-noiresque pose of cupping my hand around a lighter in a breezy street; I love the silky rolling comfort of the little cylinder between my fingers; I love the draw of tangy, rasping smoke into my lungs.

Let’s face it, smoking is sexy. The effortless self-assurance required to exude sex-appeal is precisely the quality required to look good with a cigarette. Healthy food is not, and will never be, sexy. Working out is not sexy either, regardless of the number of leotard-clad catalogue models prancing around aerobically to 80’s disco beats.

Smoking is sexy despite being dangerous. In fact, it is all the more arousing because it is dangerous. It is a daring and insouciant accomodation with a prowling, patient, predatory beast. For those of us who will never know the adrenalin rush of sitting in the cockpit of a Tornado or an F-15, smoking is a defiant dalliance with death.

For me, cigarettes are like a mad, unpredictable and fatally attractive mistress. Even though I know her wild behaviour, her endless painful taunts and unreasonable demands are both eroding my life-force and gouging out my bank account, I love her desperately and irrationally. And for all that she hurts me, I must have her in my life.

Until now, that is. Because I am in the process of ending this corrosive love-affair. Why? Because although I believe that the risks of smoking have been exaggerated for political reasons, even I can no longer ignore the symptoms of the harm being done to my respiratory system. Wheezing after climbing a flight of stairs is one thing but combine that with the trademark hacking, staccato cough I have now developed and that’s enough to set alarm bells ringing. I fear that if I do not end this relationship soon, then my mistress will do me some harm from which I will not have the option of being able to walk away.

So, as I type these words, it is now two-and-a-half days since I stubbed out what I hope will prove to be my last pleasure stick. Despite the nicotine patch on my arm, I am fighting the tickling, torturous craving that sweeps over me in savage, but mercifully brief, waves. Whenever they come they are accompanied by the roaring sound of my mistress banging frantically on my front door demanding to know why I have suddenly stopped returning her calls. Given time, she will tire, get the message and leave me alone. By my reckoning, after four days of this hell, things will get easier.

By this time next week, I hope I will have completely de-coupled myself from this harridan and although I know I will be a better man for being free of her tyrrany, I also know with doleful certainty that I will miss her forever.

24 comments to Farewell, my lovely

  • I quit smoking 6 years ago. It’s great when you can taste your food, have more money, not hack up a lung every morning.

    I quit ‘cold tukey.’ It was actually pretty easy to stop – at least for me.

    Good luck.


  • jk

    Congrats! Hardest thing I EVER did but very well worth it! It has been 11 years or so for me. If nothing else, that’s a lot of money.

    Best of luck, it really is worth it.

  • I quit seven years ago when I found out the same companies that made the cigarettes also made the gum and the patch. A doctor friend told me to inhale sharply then without exhaling do it two more times and that doing so would momentarily stop the physical cravings. He was right. Try it.

  • First, working out can be quite sexy. Not that I look sexy working out, mind you, but fit young scantily-clad women jogging or lifting weights are indeed quite sexy. Health food is not sexy, nor will it ever be, as you say.

    Second, good luck. I certainly know what you mean about the pleasures of smoking, which is why I don’t do it very much. If I started smoking habitually, I know I’d move down a road towards total addiction. Best not to start.

  • Mike

    Congratulations. Keep at it.

    I quit almost 20 years ago. I found that I needed to be distracted when I had a nicotine fit. Find something that will distract you and will occupy your hands during these moments.

    Since some of the pleasure in smoking involves a smokers hand and mouth you might try to find something that involves both.


  • Smoking is sexy, except for the smell. Hehe.

    I quit 7 months ago, cold turkey, no patch, no gum.

    Good luck, it’s tough, I know.

  • Hang in there!

    To paraphrase Sam Clemens, ‘quiting smoking is easy – I’ve done it myself at least 100 times.’

    What finally did the trick for me was watching my father-in-law die of emphesema. After that, every time I thought of having a cig I could hear him wheeze. Dying of slow asphyxiation has got to be the absolute worst way to go.

    Hmm.. my, that was a cheery little note. Ah well, don’t give up!


  • Brian Micklethwait


    Maybe you should reconsider. I have been displaying/enduring all the same symptoms as you ever since we last met (on the occasion of the excellent talk you gave at my place about the Countryside Movement just after Christmas), and I have only ever smoked one cigarette (which made me ill) in my entire life, and that forty years ago.

    Others I’ve been in touch with have been suffering similarly. It’s not a smoking related illness you’ve got, by the sound of it; just an illness.

    However, if you do decide to quit, that will simplify the smoking regime at my fridays. You’ve always been the big problem, because you’re one of my key speakers and I dare not offend you. Also, I quite like you, and I don’t like telling people I like to stop smoking, only people I dislike.

    So good luck anyway, if you do persist.

  • “First, working out can be quite sexy. Not that I look sexy working out, mind you, but fit young scantily-clad women jogging or lifting weights are indeed quite sexy. Health food is not sexy, nor will it ever be, as you say.”


    What about fit, young, scantily clad women cavorting in tofu? Instantly sexy health food.

  • I quit smoking several years ago. It took a couple of weeks for the cravings to mostly go away. One tip: don’t keep a holdout pack tucked away anywhere. Then, all you have to do is just not buy any.

    But I still love the smell of second-hand smoke, and sometimes wish for one.

  • Julian Morrison

    Hey, I *like* tofu, marinade in soy and fry til golden, pleasant stuff, don’t diss it! Even lettuce has a use, in adding crunch to burgers and kebabs.

    Yanno, I’m thinking of *starting* smoking. I reckon by the time I get ill, medical science will be up to cloned-lung transplants, nanoprobe anticancer, etc 😉

  • Philip Chaston

    The cigarette as mistress: no substitute for the real thing.

    Women who smoke are far better than certain alternatives. I once snogged a girl from Norrland in Sweden who forgot to take the chewing tobacco out of her mouth. RRughkk!

  • cydonia

    Good idea. Don’t waste health and money on cheap tarts. Save yourself for the real thing. Would particularly recommend the medium sized Montecristo’s. One supersexy plump cuban a week and you’ll wonder why you ever smoked ciggies.


  • Anonymous Coward

    Keep it up David!

    I went cold turkey a month before Christmas after being lectured by my GP for ten minutes about its evil effects. Up until then I had ignored anti-smoking propaganda and partly (I like to think) my smoking was a small act of political defiance.

    However, my Doctor is a man I trust (despite being employed by the state). He presented some convincing statistical evidence and recalled some horrific anecdotes and for some reason I decided to listen to him.

    Anyway, it’s worth giving up. I have more money, I can taste food again (this has a negative side) and just generally feel “better”. As for smoking being sexy, well I seem to have had more luck in the last month than for quite a while.

    Good luck!

  • Paul Michaels

    Well done, I gave up over twenty years ago, the first six weeks were the worst for me (and those around me!).
    Well worth it though, better food, more money and the smug feeling of being in control of a habit instead of it controlling me.

    So….don’t give up, well yes give up, but don’t give up on giving up.

  • Kevin


    Just a hint, liberally taken from the hilarious Norman Lear movie from the 70’s, “Cold Turkey”, in which an entire town tries to stop smoking to earn millions in a tobacco company publicity stunt.

    Those trying to quit are counseled by a doctor on the radio that the “act of physical love” can relieve the tension of nicotine withdrawl. In the movie, Dick Van Dyke’s character, the local Protestant minister, goes home to his wife so often that she doesn’t bother making the bed anymore and disrobes as soon as she sees him approaching the house. It would be a great movie for you to see, if you could find it.

    As for “the act of physical love”, I’m not advocating finding a girlfriend just to beat the shakes, but do keep it in mind….


  • Pherecydes

    I reached a compromise with smoking and society that combines the elegance of ritual with the smug satisfaction of having shown the health Nazis two, nicotine stained, fingers. I never smoke anywhere (unless invited) save in my own digs.

    Started rollin’ me own. I treat tobacco like an illegal drug…every smoke an occasion. Carry a little rig. Of course I can buy 14 ounces of McClintock’s excellent tobacco (400 papers included) and smoke myself stupid at home for $18 every couple of months or so…spill more coffee than that…so I have the added satisfaction of contributing very little to the government in tax.

    All in all, the PC Stazi have enhanced my smoking pleasure all around and made stronger certain friendships and associations that were always associated with the delights of tobacco.

  • Just wanted to echo the sentiments about quitting smoking. Good luck.

    One thing I wanted to say is I quit once cold turkey … and felt a bit scarred afterward. When I quit with the patch four years ago, it was a lot easier and without a lot of emotional stress.

    Still, everyone’s different. Best.


  • Robert

    Eric hit the nail on the head; when you’ve quit, everytime some one lights up and that aroma wafts your way, it’s like greeting an old friend.

    Noticed no one above mentioned the worst time for someone ending a long relationship with the leaf. Sitting around, having a few pints may prove to be the most trying. All of my previous attempts ended in bars until the patch came around. Cold Turkey sucks, especially if you enjoy more than a few pints.

    Break a leg!

  • Larry

    Good luck to you! I stopped 12/27. Using Zyban–no craving! Highly recommend Zyban if you don’t make it this time. Careful with those patches. If you’re tempted to sneak a smoke with one on, don’t do it!!! I’ll be rooting for your success down here in sunny Florida. (umm, Zyban’s same as antidepressant Wellbutrin, so if you’re depressed, kills 2 birds with 1 stone.)

  • katy

    i have six months under my belt, and i wish you the best of luck. i have had cravings, but what keeps me going is a whiff of that terrible smell!!

  • Why the teetotaling attitude? Do you swear off alcohol every time you get a hangover? If the ill effects you experience from smoking exceed the pleasure, there is almost certainly some amount of smoking that would minimize ill effects without quitting.

    Every drug has a sub-addictive dosage, i.e. an amount you may consume without experiencing withdrawal effects. For example, I used to be addicted to caffeine, like many people, and I would experience painful headaches if I didn’t get any caffeine on a given day. I reduced my caffeine intake, and now, even though I often drink one or two caffeinated beverages per day, I never experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms if I don’t have any.

    In my experience, reducing total smoking to a subaddictive dosage makes any cigarette smoked much more enjoyable–plus instead of feeding a habit with the cheapest cigarettes I can tolerate, I can smoke Dunhills and Gitanes when I indulge.

    Also, why are you maintaining your nicotine addiction with the patch? Physical withdrawal from nicotine takes only 72 hours–the rest is psychological comfort and oral fixation.

  • Anne

    I slap on the first patch tomorrow! I will think of your steely willpower as I stagger through the blur of withdrawl (for the second time!)

  • Jen

    I wish you the best of luck it’s Day 7 for me and feeling better everyday! This time I’m doing it cold turkey. I have used the gum twice only to start smoking again in 2 months. My theory is deplete your body of the nictotine and suffer physical withdraw now or it will call you back later.