Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Smoking Cessation?

Gunther (taking a drag off of Chandler's cigarette): "Oh, Dark Mother...once again I suckle at your smoky teat."

Tobacco and I have had a history together, 24+ years to be exact. That’s right Mom, I was using tobacco products even in high school. The Topol Smoker’s Tooth Polish I was using at the time should have been a hint but I’m glad you didn’t pick up on it (love you Ma). That’s how stupid of teenager I was, I would see those Topol commercials and think “Jesus, if my folks see how brown my teeth are getting from smoking, I’ll be busted for sure”. Never mind that I was probably only smoking like 3 cigarettes a day but when that guy on commercial would blow into that paper, it looked like friggin mud, man! Well, I just couldn’t be having brown teeth, Mom and Dad would just know for sure I was smoking. So what do I decide to do? I’m going to buy and brush my teeth with toothpaste specifically designed for smokers, genius, sheer genius.

It’s been two and half years since I quit smoking and a year and a since I quit chewing. Here is my not so orthodox method of quitting:

Start exercising (pretty orthodox start). It was just dumb luck that I fell into running. We had been to Killington skiing in 1997 for a week and my legs were so sore on the second day that I swore I would never let me legs slow me down like that again, Ever! I started using a treadmill and before long, pounds were dropping and miles were accumulating. Seven years later after races too numerous to count and the miles by the thousands, I can recommend shoes, I know about mid-sole and bounce and over pronation and under pronation, I know every bone in the foot, I know what can cause plantar fascitis, I know about the periformis muscle and knees and ACLs and MCls but no matter what you know or how much you know or how much you think you know, somehow people just can’t take you seriously when with one hand you extol the health benefits of running while on the other hand you are waving a cigarette around. That’s right, I’d finish up a ten mile run, go right to the car and light up a smoke, and I did that for years.

Here is where things get a little sketchy but hey it’s my method, I’m just telling you what worked for me. I used to give a smoker a ride home from work. Her brand of choice was Virginia Slim Menthols. Being out of smokes one day, I had to bum one from her. Now, I was smoking Marlboros at the time but in a case of desperation, beggars can’t be choosers. It was nasty, I was puffing on this thing and I said if I had to smoke these effing things everyday, I would quit altogether. Ding! (Cue the light bulb here) I thought, this might not be such a bad idea. One pack of those damn things and I’ll quit for sure. (Don’t forget I’m the guy who was using Topol to avoid getting caught smoking.)

After a year of this method and the realization that a Virginia Slim Menthol is a pretty damn good cigarette, the humility I was putting myself through had to stop.
Yes, in my zeal to quit smoking, this became my brand of choice. I chose to smoke what is undeniably the most effeminate of all cigarettes. I’m pretty comfortable in my masculinity but even this was pushing the limit. I always expected the cashier look at me and sarcastically say “you’ve come a long way, baby” after I bought a pack. I kind of wish someone would have because I probably would have quit right on the spot or dropped dead from the sheer magnitude of the embarrassment.

In April 2004, I stopped smoking completely. I didn’t stop tobacco mind you; I simply traded smoking for chewing tobacco. For some reason, I thought quitting chewing would be easier - Wrong! The nice thing about my smoking days were 1) I never smoked in the house and 2) I never smoked at work. Other than the chick I gave rides home to, no one at my work even knew I was a smoker. Chewing on the other hand, I would do that no matter where I was i.e. at home sitting in the recliner, sitting at my desk at work, sitting in a tree stand - all the places I would never dream to smoke at. When I started chewing, I told Sheri I would only do it for one year. Thankfully (although at the time I wasn’t very grateful) she held me to it and told me it was now April 2005 and it was time to quit. So I did, cold turkey, it was a bitch but somehow I made it through.

Skoal has all kinds of great flavors now like cherry, berry blend, peach, apple, and vanilla. I hate to think that if they had those flavors when I was chewing, I may not have quit when I did. While these new flavors sound tantalizing to me, I promised Sheri that I would only take up chewing again when Skoal comes up with “Swedish Fish” flavor. There will be no stopping me then.

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