February 5, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 70  

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Where there’s smoke, there’s fire

Ad Nauseam
Anton Vidgen

News Editor

So I quit smoking — again. And this is for sure the last time. Unless you make me screw up.

The part of my life devoted to Du Maurier Lights, Belmont Milds and Marlboro Reds ended this past weekend when I had a dream in which something happened (I can’t remember what) and as a result I felt horribly disgusted (I can’t remember why). But I soon woke up in that weird half-asleep, half-awake daze, convinced I didn’t want to die of lung cancer or have a hole punched in my throat in order to breathe.

To be fair to those smoking since they’ve plopped out of the womb, I’ve only been a cigarette smoker since this summer when a trip to Italy and Croatia surrounded me with the angelic wisps of Dunhill’s International and the occasional whiff of Stewardess. However, I must confess, I’ve long harboured a secret attraction to the products of Big Tobacco.

Blame it on the media or the “cool” image associated with smoking, but I have different reasons for starting. Initially, the public education campaigns got to me and I effortlessly resisted the marketing prowess of tobacco companies. But I soon succumbed to the single best advertisement for cigarette manufacturers: their product.

The smell, feel, taste and experience of smoking is devilishly contagious and wonderfully delicious, but not necessarily addictive. It’s the fuckin’ habit that makes your body crave and even require the harmful chemicals contained in tobacco. So, as soon as I realized I had a habit (even though I still wasn’t physically addicted), I knew it was time to quit.

Habits are strange things. Though they are borne of various consequences, habits are most often the product of one’s external environment. In the case of my bygone smoking habit, my enjoyment of cigarettes was continuously supported by friends who always kept a pack at close reach. Though it may sound obvious, I found I could off-load my guilt associated with smoking onto friends who also smoked — and I would guess some of them feel the same way. What an ugly cycle.

Of course my love of the cancer stick was not just because my friends shared the same passion, it was also because cigarettes really do provide you with a one-way ticket to flavour country, where stress is stopped at the border. Very few things come close to matching that feeling, and those that do are illegal or out of my reach (drugs or anonymous sex).

So with such rave reviews, how could I ever give up smoking? Besides the dream (which probably won’t have staying effect anyway), there’s a simple reason I will never have a smoking habit again: I don’t want anyone else to experience what I have.

Call me altruistic and idealistic, but if I stop smoking, then maybe it will be slightly easier for someone else. If someone else stops smoking as a result... well, you get the idea. At least I hope so.



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