Bil Browning

Smoking open thread

Filed By Bil Browning | April 24, 2007 7:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: open thread, Questions, smoking

Are you now or were you ever a smoker? If you've quit, why did you? If you've never smoked, why not?

Consider this an open thread on smoking - from Governor Daniel's tax increase to why such a large percentage of the LGBT community smokes (gays: 36% > straights: 25%).

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Jen Jorczak | April 24, 2007 9:04 AM

I have never smoked. I cannot get past the fact that people are HOSPITALIZED for smoke inhalation--and I can't figure out why I should be paying anybody $3/pack for the privilege.

I smoked off and on (usually just weekends) from age 16 until age 36 - dropping the habit and picking it back up again like clockwork. Usually it was a pack a week. Not a tremendous amount but enough, I suppose. Working in bars in college didn't help matters.

I quit when I traveled home when my stepmother was dying of her second round of breast cancer. By the time I made it to my father's house she was unable to speak but concious. I had five cigarettes in my pack and went out front to smoke with her sister (who, by the way, also died of breast cancer a couple of years later). I distinctly remember not enjoying that cigarette and thinking at the time that "I really don't want to smoke this."

Literally it was at that moment I quit. I finished the cigarette and two days later threw the pack away. I've had five cigarettes in the years since (bummed from a friend while out drinking) and have not bought a pack. I'm done. Witnessing someone die of cancer is not pleasant.

Thoughts are with you, Bil.

Zach Adamson | April 24, 2007 9:39 AM

Yup.. I smoked for more than 20 years.. I know, I know.. Your all thinking.. how could that be possible since I look so young.. Well.. its that oily Mexican skin.. its a shield from environmental pollutants.. But I digress.

I tried for years to quit. The patch, the gum, the lozenges, the inhalers, the various pills like welbutrin and zyban. I tried hypnosis, acupressure, and acupuncture. I stopped just shy of the witchdoctor who wanted me to eat a bug..NOTHING worked.
In January, I took a new pill approved by the FDA last year called Chantix. I haven't smoked since. I never once had any attacks of needing a smoke. its been 3 months now and still no desire. Its only a 12 week program, and I finished in about 8 weeks. Its expensive. About as expensive as a pack a day. but now.. since Jan, I have NOT spent over $300 on the Cigs and only spent $220 on the meds. $80 bucks ahead of the game..
So, if you or someone you know wants to quit, tell them about it.
Im not a drug rep, but I play one on TV.

Zach Adamson | April 24, 2007 9:42 AM

Also the drug touts a 70% success rate.. while the 2nd place method, the patch, has a 35% rate.

Best of luck to you both.. be sure to keep us tuned in to your progress.. We'll be thinking about ya.

I have never smoked. My parents did and I thought it smelled awful.

But I think I was lucky because my high school friends did not smoke. In college, no one on the dorm floor smoked, at my first job, no one in the department smoked. So if anything, I had peer pressure not to smoke.

Over at Shakesville, they've opened up a thread on this topic too where I responded to a comment about an aunt who had her voicebox removed from smoking. I thought I'd crosspost it here.

"I suppose you want me to give up my little white friends?"
I can totally sympathize with this; I felt the same way. My partner is a vehement non-smoker; some of our biggest fights have been over smoking. (I call him the smoking Nazi.) As soon as I got the diagnosis, my first thought was, "Well, that means he's going to make me quit."

I mean, what kind of fucked up thought process is that? First, no one can "make" me do anything... And, secondly, what kind of idiot would have to be "made" to quit after being diagnosed with cancer? The justifications I've come up with are amazing and frightening... "Wouldn't it be great that you only want an ultra light now instead of a full flavor?" "This would be your only smoke today - you used to smoke a pack a day! That's an improvement! Go ahead!" "You deserve one, it's been a rough day." "No one will know if you do it!"

Argh. Baby carrot coupons are welcome. *grins*

Oh, one thing I wanted to say too -

I appreciate Zach's willingness to share a method that helped him to quit smoking (I know him and his partner and both have them quit easily on the new meds. Congrats!), but I feel compelled to point out that the med isn't for everyone.

It tricks your brain into thinking you've just had a smoke - your nicotine levels are "full." But they're not sure how it works - just like they don't know how most anti-depressants or mood stabilizers actually work. Since I'm bipolar (and on regular medication to control that), I can't mix the two drugs. There haven't been any studies yet on whether the two can mix safely. For example, I tried to take Zyban to stop smoking and it threw me into a mania (which is how we found out I was bipolar.)

Always proceed with caution before mixing any medications and be sure to tell your doctor everything you're taking already.

Never smoked, even tho I spent my college years around debaters who were always smoking, and I was always standing outside with them while they smoked a lot. They also smoked a lot of pot and drank a lot. For some reason an activity popular among pre-law UG's is full of people with addictive personalities. Go figure.

Several years after college, tho, I hooked up with a guy who was a bit older than I and who smoked a lot. In fact, he had to get up a few times in the middle of sex to go outside to have a smoke (he wasn't allowed to smoke in the building)! His breath, cold hands, and inability to get it up was all the anti-smoking campaign that I'll need for the rest of my life. I think every high school student should have a similar experience.

Oh, wait, that idea doesn't sound quite as logical when taken alone.

I started smoking when I was 12. I'm 33 about to be 34 in a few short weeks. My grandmother died from brain cancer. Chain smoker. My father died from lung cancer. Chain smoker. And yet I still smoked. I would mute the anti smoking commercials on television. Change the channel if I heard one on the radio. And all the time feel extreme shame and guilt and yet I still smoked. My 8 year old son would insist that I quit and I would still smoke.

Then on March 11 I just said enough is enough and I decided to quit with my husband. I lied for a week and just smoked at work. But then I really quit. It's been good. I fell off the wagon twice with my girlfriend. But I didn't even enjoy smoking. And actually knowing how much I didn't enjoy smoking has made it easier to keep not smoking. Now, I know its only been a month but I think that I actually may have quit for good. And I feel much better. My skin looks better and I no longer look skeletal.

I've never smoked, and after I was present when my grandfather died of an stroke due to a lifetime of it, I know I'll never start. I've stopped going to bars because of the smoke, too. I just can't deal.

I come from a family of smokers. Dad smoked Pall Mall (is that the right spelling) and Lucky Strikes. Don't get much more lethal than those babies! He died of a heart attack at 53.

I started smoking about the time I was 20 or so. I was tired of everyone taking "Smoke breaks" and me still working, so I joined in.

I smoked about 2 packs a day for maybe 5 years, then finally quit. Good think I did since shortly after that my partner developed asthma.

Quitting for me entailed chewing on straws from Mickey D's. They have the BEST straws. It took about a month of that and I was cured.

Now and again I might smoke a cigar. Don't know why, just to be different I guess. I don't think I've smoked one of those in a year though, so it isn't too often.

One bad thing, I gained a ton of weight. At the time I considered that a victory since I had read a study that said if you gain at least 10 pounds while stopping smoking you are more likely to not smoke again. Some tradeoff. I guess we all have to be addicted to something ;)

Zach Adamson | April 24, 2007 10:35 PM

True Bil, it does fool the brain, but isnt that what addiction is all about. Fooling the brain. I will concede that without a doubt, you should not take anything with a doctor telling you its ok. But in all fairness, Zyban and welbutrin both work on the same antidepressant part of the brain. Its suposed to take the edge off quiting. It didnt for me. The chantix works on a totally different part. But then again, its brand new.. I told my doctor I dont want to use a new drug.. i want an old drug that had plenty of time to see the side affects. But its better to quit smoking than risk growing a breast in the middle of my forehead.. However popular it might be at the TEN on a Friday night....
So I took it. Around the 8th week of a 12 week program it started bothering my stomach so I stopped taking it. And thats been it. No problems since. But im sure everything is different for everyone.. All's Im Sayin' is..... nothing else worked for me. With everything else there was a horrible craving that I could not block out. I had trouble concentrating on conversations because all I could think about was how long it had been and how long i would be without a ciggy. With my brain thinking I just had one, it wasnt a problem. and it kept at bay long enough for me to forget that i was a smoker. Thats all's Im sayin..

Also, I have not talked to a single person who quit with chantix and did not succeed. So it would be well worth it to anyone trying to quit to look into it. Even if there is bipolar circumstances in the mix. Like I said, everything works different on different people. Ya gotta ask.

No, I think you misunderstand me, Zach. Bipolar folks who are currently taking meds for their bipolar disorder CANNOT take the new med. It WILL have an adverse reaction; it will cause a mania. That means all sorts of awful things could happen to the person up to and including death or hospitalization if the mania is severe enough. (The meds won't kill you, your actions during the mania could - suicide, thinking you can fly or stop a train, wandering in the interstate, etc) I know you don't understand the whole mania thing, but - trust me - it's not fun. It'd be better to try any of the other methods of quitting before putting yourself through that.

Marla R. Stevens | April 25, 2007 4:10 PM

No, mania (knock on wood that I never get further than my occasional hypomania) is no picnic -- nor is the down swing on its other side. I've seen enough of it in relatives and in clients when I worked in a mood swing clinic to know.

But cancer is no fun, either. Sorry you've got that to deal with. I hope your surgery is successful and that you heal super fast.

Smoking is a form of self-medication. You may want to talk to your doc about adjusting your mood meds to handle the loss of the tobacco drug.

You're wise to talk about the addiction here -- to tell others about the unrealistic rationalizations the addiction sends through your brain. You'll have more chance of maintaining the realization of the nonsense they are.

My chain-smoking maternal grandmother had lung cancer and breast cancer and was dying of cancer when she succumbed from a heart attack. She had Alzheimer's and had already set fire to the couch, nearly burning the house down and nearly killing my grandfather who collapsed from smoke inhalation trying to get to the fire to put it out. They both smoked to the days they died.

My grandfather used a cigarette holder and looked like a handsomer version of FDR when he did. My grandmother was so long past the elegance of when she would go to New York to have her season's evening gowns made then take swatches over to the Sherman company to have their ultra-long cigarettes dyed to match.

My parents both smoked but they also both quit in typically stoic fashion -- my mother just before my grandfather died, making all the way through that dreadful time, knowing that, if she could survive it without smoking, she'd be able never to smoke again.

I also worked in respiratory therapy where I saw a lifetime's worth of smoking aftermath nightmares -- and plenty of us were smokers nonetheless.

I was seduced by Shermans and Dunhills myself and it didn't take long before I was hooked. Oh, it was fun smoking with Jim in Mercer House. I quit related to him, too, -- stopping after spending a summer as jailhouse messenger after his second murder conviction long enough to be there to keep him from committing suicide after his request for release pending appeal was turned down. There just didn't seem to be any point to doing self-destructive things in the wake of that, I guess.

I just like being a nonsmoker. Feels good, smells good. Things taste better. All that and I don't have to be careful to keep cigarettes around, much less waste money on them at today's prices.

I was wondering, for those of you who are nonsmokers, if you're the sort who turn into antismoking Nazis who are revulsed by the presence of them and demand that the world become smoke free to accommodate you or, if you're like me and think being near them is a vicarious thrill.

Please email me at [email protected] I lost your email address. Oh, and mail me some of that wonder drug you're pushing. If it causes mania, all the better--better to yell "Tornado" in a crowded theatre, better to dance naked on a ledge, better to cash checks for Nigerians than to be the one who honks for a McClure station pumpboy to bring me the pack of smokes, to be told by a maiden aunt that you'll burn in hell, echoed by the bells of Holy Family tolling your death nell, to pay a tobacco tax to the legislators of morality, to suffocate in the ash that will clog my last breath. I chant the mantra, chant the Chantrix, matrix, mantra, mania Manaical Chantrix. Chantrix!