Thank Yourself for Never Smoking

I smoked cigarettes for about 10 years. I loved rolling my own. I went through periods of smoking Kools menthols and Camel filterless. I loved to smoke with a drink or a cuppa coffee, before and after some demanding task. As a shy person, I valued that cigarettes gave me entree into a community, especially when I traveled foreign lands. Gotta light? Spare a smoke? My brand is OPs (Other Peoples’ – Von Anderen, auf deutsch). I smoked when it was cheap to smoke. When I quit, I was smoking more than a pack a day.

My uncle couldn’t quit, even when he needed to prop himself up on the kitchen counter to clutch a cigarette in trembling hands. His elbows bled from that effort, despite the foam pads his accommodating wife cut for him.

An old friend didn’t have time to quit. He died of a massive heart attack at 37 after smoking two packs a day for 20 years.

My buddy quit in order to get on the lung transplant list. She’s not quite sick enough to be at the top of the list. That would amaze you if you saw her struggle to cross a room or witnessed one of her oxygen-starved attacks (even with an oxygen tank).

I quit for love. None of my friends smoked by then, but it took my girlfriend to give me reason to save my own life. More than 25 years later, we’ve been married for years. Thank you, darling.

And after all this time without cigarettes, I still feel the pull. Nicotine is powerful and I believe one is never really free of it, although one can overcome it and construct a smoke-free life with the help of friends, family, and community.

You have the right to kill yourself, if you can do so without endangering others. You may have the sense to save yourself. It’s your choice. As for the recent controversy over UNM’s smoking ban: if it helps one person quit or, better, keeps one person from this suicidal addiction, the ban is a success, as far as I'm concerned. peace, mjh

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Comment by mjh on August 2, 2009 at 8:52pm
No worries, Rudolfo. Writers aren't necessarily the wisest critics. I couldn't deliver my blunt message in your dreamy style. You and I are far more simpatico than this exchange would suggest to a third party. So, we disagree. No biggie. My very best friends have used worse words than pedantic to describe me -- we may be destined for friendship. Try not to be too scathing in your rebuttal to this: I forgive you for your insults. That is not condescension. // And, JJ, thanks for your kindness. peace, mjh
Comment by mjh on August 2, 2009 at 9:36pm
I know all us rugged individuals have perfectly-formed opinions that cannot be swayed by all the fools around us. Still, if there is one unformed mind out there receptive to influence, one person who hasn't started smoking: Don't start. It's easier than stopping. Bravo to Rudolfo for his restraint and his abuelo, but for many people smoking is a horrible habit that does terrible things to the body. Pedantic? Your choice. Is there a single smoker out there who thinks everyone should try it? peace, mjh

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