Five years, No cigarettes.

Five years ago today I decided to quit smoking.  Again.  The difference between this time and any previous attempts is that I knew this time would be for good.  Why?  Because I’m stubborn, and competitive, and I was really annoyed at my ex.

Me and my friend Jeremy at the after prom party, ten years ago (gross), holding a cigarette (also gross).

Me and my friend Jeremy at the after prom party, ten years ago (gross), holding a cigarette (also gross).

You see, 5 years and one week ago, I split up with my ex-boyfriend of 5 years.  When we met, we were sort of compatible (I was obese and nobody else was interested), but as the years went by, we both realized we had pretty much nothing in common.  I liked being active, he would moan that his knee hurt after ten minutes of walking.  I wanted to eat well, he lived on (incinerated) oven pizzas and packets of Doritos.  I hated coffee (still do), he could not function without about a gallon of it.  He wanted to have sex with me (and ended up finding it elsewhere, it seems), I wanted to have sex with hot strangers on the subway, hot strangers at the gym, hot strangers at the supermarket, hot strangers on TV, etc (but like a decent human being, did not indulge).  He smoked, I wanted to quit – again.  It is very hard to not smoke when you are living with/dating a heavy smoker.

My ex was also extremely annoying when he got drunk.

My ex was also extremely annoying when he got drunk.

The split was immediate – I think we exchanged one paltry text message before ceasing contact altogether.  I was so happy to be rid of him, and I was also pretty disgusted with him.  When I quit smoking, my disgust for him fueled my willpower, and I can honestly say I haven’t had a single cigarette since the day I quit, although there have been a couple of dark moments when I have walked behind a smoker and inhaled deeply, for old time’s sake, and no, I am not proud of myself.

Since I have quit, I am apparently 13% less likely to die of all smoking related causes, and if I stick with it, in another 15 years all my risks will be that of a non-smoker.  So I’m a quarter of the way through.  I have also, apparently, saved a whole bunch of money, but my bank balance would disagree with that.  But the best thing about remaining a non-smoker (or ex-smoker if you want to get picky) is that smug feeling whenever I speak to a mutual friend who has spoken to my ex and can confirm that he still smokes.  It makes me smile.  And that might make me sounds like an asshole.  And I’m fine with that.

How to make Smokers Hate You – #287

Casually mention to your younger brother, as he purchases a fresh pack of cigarettes, that today marks 4 years since you quit.  And then, just for fun,chime, “And did you know smoking makes you impotent.  And you’re single, right?”

Don’t get me wrong.  Smoking, when I partook in the filthy activity, was totally enjoyable.  Totally.  I could easily puff my may through 20-40 cigarettes a day (more if drinking), and my bank balance felt it.  Oddly, on a crisp winter’s day, standing outside admiring a fresh blanket of snow making everything seem clean, nothing topped it off quite like blacking my lungs and dusting the pristine ground with fag ash.

I quit using nicotine patches.  I had also just left my smoking ex boyfriend and wanted to prove to myself that I was better than him.  And that smoking was for (balding, university drop-out) losers.  That tactic was very effective.  On December 27th, 2007, I slapped my first patch onto my left butt-cheek, felt the burn (seriously, those things hurt), and waltzed into town feeling pretty smug. I’m going to save so much money.  I’m going to smell amazing.  I’m not going to have premature wrinkles or lung cancer.  Thoughts like these kept me motivated through the inevitable bad days, even if the saving money part was a complete falsity – I spent more on scented body lotions, candles and perfume than I ever would have on cigarettes.

The best part about quitting on the 27th was the fact that when everyone else was gearing up to make their New Year’s Resolutions happen, I had a head start.  On January 1st, I was well on my way, not dreading the start.  I’d quit last year!  No problemo!

4 years on and I’m glad I stuck with it.  I enjoy running (obviously, as this is a blog about running) and smoking is pretty detrimental to running.  I also enjoy not  looking terrible, so while I have frown lines that have existed, I’m determined to prove, since birth, I’m in pretty good nick for 27.  Definitely not a Faces of Meth contender.  I also realized a few weeks ago that the price of cigarettes (in the UK) has exceeded 7 pounds, which is just ridiculous.

It could be argued that there are downsides to being an ex-smoker.  I tend to find that the smell of smoke bothers ex-smokers more than non-smokers.  I also find ex-smokers are more viscous and patronizing when they pass comment on other smokers.  And, in complete honesty, there are some days where you think maybe I could have just one…

Clearly, the downsides are negligible and the benefits to your health, such as lowered risk of coronary disease, lower risk of cancer, and white teeth, make it worthwhile.  And obviously smelling good is a useful tool in the act of making friends and attracting partners.  But the best thing about quitting smoking for me?  Knowing that my (balding, university drop-out) ex boyfriend doesn’t have as much hardcore determination as I do.