I noticed that the information campaign about the smoking ban in England has started to get going. Of course, Scotland, advanced nation that it is, has had the ban enforced since March 2006.
This got me thinking of my long-lost, pack a day smoking habit and how little I miss it. I started smoking when I was in high school (didn't we all?) but really got going in Germany. I like to talk and couldn't speak the language. Smoking gave me something to do other than looking vacantly at people wandering by. By the time I learnt the language I was addicted.
I think the most bizarre thing about smoking is how it can be considered cool - admittedly only by other smokers - while being so utterly and recognisably vile. It smells bad, tastes bad, paints your teeth and fingers yellow. How anyone with a smoking habit can NOT know that it is bad for you is beyond me. Waking up every morning with a burning throat and a choking cough do not strike me as being hard to interpret. And yet I smoked for several years.
And then the Good Man woke up one morning and, before you could say 'hypochondria' announced he had a tight chest and was going to stop smoking. He'd been at it for the best part of twenty years by then, so I naturally thought it would last about 3 hours. I even agreed that, as long as he didn't smoke, I would only smoke outside. This kind act illustrates two things:
- I knew that smoking was a bad idea - I wanted to support him in kicking the habit. And yet, I gave no thought to actually stopping myself...
- I can be really stupid. It gets could outside - even in Cape Town sometimes. And you always want a cigarette when the baddies are about to be caught but can't see the TV from the garden. Outside is lonely...
Much to my surprise, he really didn't ever smoke again. And then began the conspiracy. Our office building became non-smoking and we were forced to huddle in small groups on the balcony around overstuffed ashtrays. The place was like a walking crematorium. And then they designated smoking areas in restaurants. I slowly started to realise that us smokers were becoming very uncool.
Two years later I got laryngitis and honestly didn't want to smoke for a whole day. It was quite nice being allowed in the house so, as a kind of cruel, self inflicted torture, I decided to not smoke for another day. Then, I thought, with two days down, I may as well try for a week. Just to prove that I wasn't actually addicted to cigarettes and was still in control of all aspects of my life (motherhood has now put paid to that myth, but I digress...), I went for another week. Several weeks have now passed - somewhere around 520, I think.
Today, I decided to price cigarettes, just to see how much I'm saving ten years on. Flipping heck!!! £5.30 a pack!!! That's £160 per month. While I'm tempted to look at this as a potential city break a month for being virtuous, it would actually mean having £160 less to spend on stuff each month. Like living in a dodgier neighbourhood, or never shopping at Sainsbury's. Unthinkable!
It actually means that stopping smoking can improve your lifestyle as well as your health.
Looking back I just can't remember why I bothered.