In my July 22 post, I shared my intention to give up cigarettes on July 6 and promised to provide monthly updates on my quit smoking attempt. Today is August 6, so here I go.
On the morning of my quit smoking date, I headed to Shanti Resort on Wolfe Island in Kington, Ontario, for a glorious four-day, three-night yoga retreat with a dear friend. It was heavenly. Over the course of our stay, we took nine yoga classes, enjoyed eight delicious vegetarian meals, and took several refreshing dips in the lake. I didn’t miss smoking one little bit and came home feeling all zenned out. Over the three weeks that followed, I thought about cigarettes a fair bit, but managed to refrain … until July 29.
On July 29, my step-daughter arrived from New York for her annual summer visit. Blended families are complicated. This year, I made a pact with myself to be a better step-mom by working on strengthening the friendship I have with her versus being a disciplinarian. While this shift has proven to be one for the better (we’re one week into her visit and enjoying a happy, conflict-free relationship), it doesn’t eliminate tensions that tend to arise due to the differences between my parenting style and my husband’s.
It was the day after she arrived. I felt she’d had way too much screen time. My husband didn’t agree. True to my pact, I didn’t get involved but letting go of my judgement was pretty consuming and I could feel my nicotine craving begin to build. For several hours, I tried to fight it off but then I caved.
My quit smoking plan failed, or rather, I did.
There are no reasons to smoke. Only excuses. While I could say the above events were the reason I started to smoke again, they weren’t. They were simply the excuse I was looking for. The three-and-a-half weeks prior had been pretty uneventful. Finally, events unfolded that I could use to justify breaking down, and for four gloriously smokey days, I did.
Thank heavens for good friends and brothers. After fessing up to my failure on my personal Facebook page, several people suggested that I accept cold-turkey just isn’t for me. And they’re right. There’s just way too much about smoking that I enjoy:
Inhaling and exhaling:
The very act of breathing in and out so slowly and consciously calms me. If this was the only thing I liked about smoking, I could simply do more yoga, but wait — there’s more.
That hit at the back of my throat:
I love that moment when I can feel the nicotine hit the back of my throat as I inhale. Each inhale delivers this satisfying, pepper-like kick.
The visual feedback:
I can’t begin to tell you why, but that cloud of smoke I produce with each exhale feels like some kind of reward for a job well done.
A friend once told me that I look great when I smoke. Definitely the wrong thing to tell somebody who wants to quit! Her opinion aside, I feel attractive when I smoke. I know that smoking itself isn’t a pretty habit, but I do think it puts me at such ease that I move my body in a more relaxed manner. I just feel far more like ‘me’ when I have a cigarette in hand. Like I said, it’s ‘my self-image’ I’m talking about; not how others perceive me.
Come downstairs. Put coffee on. Find book. Grab ciggies. Pour coffee. Take a seat on deck and smoke while sneaking in a couple of pages over coffee before the work day begins. And that’s just one of the 10 to 15 smoking-related rituals I enjoy.
And then there’s the nicotine:
So many people say they’re not addicted to smoking. They just enjoy it, as do I. However, without a test that allows me to enjoy all of the above without the nicotine, I’m not cocky enough to say I don’t depend on it.
Time for a new quit smoking plan! Introducing my vape.
Offering 6mg of nicotine per hit, and producing more smoke than Puff the Magic Dragon, this little device allows me to indulge in all of the above. Plus, it doesn’t subject me to nicotine, tar, formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, and other cancer-causing chemicals. Yay!
While there’s far less research on vaping than there is on smoking due to its relative newness, I did my homework and I like what I read. According to an independent review published by Public Health England (i.e. not the vape store I purchased my device from):
E-cigarettes are around 95% safer than smoked tobacco.
What’s more, according to a 2017 study published in the British Medical Journal:
E-cigarette use is associated with an increase in smoking cessation.
How my vape compares to my beloved Marlboro Gold
Unlike the smoking-cessation patch, gum, and inhaler (I’ve tried almost every smoking cessation aid on the market), the vape checks off all of my boxes when it comes to enjoyment. Furthermore, it allows me to slowly ween myself off nicotine and, if and when I’m ready, eventually opt for an altogether nicotine-free draw.
I picked up my vape at The Ecig Flavorium in east Toronto and I’ve gotta tell you, the young man who served me did a stellar job of walking me through both my purchase and plan of action. Granted, I’m only on day two. Still, I can honestly say I’m enjoying every puff as much as I did when I was smoking cigarettes. In fact, I’m actually enjoying every puff a little more. Why? First, because I know I’m reducing harm to my health (only time and further research will tell by how much). Second, because my fingers, hair and breath don’t smell, and my tongue doesn’t feel or taste foul.
As of writing this, I’m convinced my vape is the smoking cessation aid I’ve been missing but only time will tell. Stay tuned for the next instalment of my Quit Smoking Journal, same time next month!