I started smoking cigarettes when I was around 14 years old. I was going on 15 but it was just something kids did back in the 70s and ’70s. Everybody smoked cigarettes. It was so widely accepted despite the health warnings. Everybody I knew smoked cigarettes. Back then you could buy a pack of smokes for $0.51 a pack at Rite Aid. That’s super cheap! A whole pack of cigs for half a buck? Incredible!
The odd thing was, at our young age, my friends and I always had a story ready if we were ever questioned by any of the shopkeepers in any of the stores where we bought them. The story was always, “Oh, these are for my mom.”
But no one ever asked us who the cigarettes were for. Ever. We had no problem buying cigarettes anywhere we ever went.
I remember my older sister taught me how to inhale.
When you start fooling around with smoking, your young lungs aren’t accustomed to breathing in toxic smoke. So you just puff them to look cool. But to get the full benefits, taste, and rush of smoking, you have to inhale the smoke. So one night my older sister showed me, my friend, how to do it. We were standing down by the bulkhead at 8th and JFK Blvd. in North Wildwood. She said, “take a small puff and then suck the smoke into your lungs like you’re being startled.” You suck it in really fast and in it goes. You get the full taste and then blow it out.
What I didn’t know is that once you do that, the nicotine enters your bloodstream and gives you that little rush that smoking cigarettes bring.
That is also the first day of your addiction to cigarettes.
I smoked and enjoyed cigarettes for the next 20 years.
Then my daughter Lorelei was born and I decided to quit smoking for health reasons. I didn’t want to sniff her baby head and have the smell of cigarettes present. But I was in my 30s then and firmly addicted to smoking with a 20-year habit. So I bought the Nicoderm patch. The patch is a sticker you place on your arm and it releases nicotine into your system without smoking.
It was tough but I slowly got myself off cigarettes. It probably cost me $600 in patches but it eventually worked. I was free of smoking but as one ex-smoker once said to me, my blood was hungry for cigarettes for over 2 years after quitting.
But like anything else, if you stop doing it, it eventually fades from your life and you no longer want it.
Jump forward 10 years, and I was divorced for over 8 years and I started dating Michelle. https://phicklephilly.com/2016/10/31/my-michelle-2007-present-part-1/
I loved Michelle. Probably more than I’ve ever loved anyone else in my life. We would be out at night touring the city and pounding cocktails.
Michelle smoked cigarettes and sometimes she’d have problems lighting them in the evening breeze. Having been a long-time smoker, I could get a cigarette lit in a sandstorm with one match left on the beaches of Wildwood. I’d help her.
Me getting her Parliament lit and handing it off to her went from that to me taking one sweet puff.
Michelle worried I’d get re-addicted to cigarettes doing that. I assured her I wouldn’t. I told her, “I’ll only get hooked if I start buying them again, and that’s not going to happen.”
But back in 2008, I was madly in love with her and my life in general with her. It wasn’t long before I was picking up a pack of Marlboro Lights regularly.
I didn’t care. I felt alive with her and loved the taste of cigarettes again. There’s nothing better than a cold cocktail and a delicious cigarette. It’s like sex.
But like everything awesome, if you do it often enough you begin to tire of it.
Jump to 2018.
Michelle was long gone and all that remained was my tobacco addiction.
But things had changed. Cigarettes were now $10 a pack and I found myself growing tired of smoking in general.
I was older. Better in touch with who I was and what I wanted. I found that I don’t have an addictive personality. I have more of a compulsive personality.
I would buy a pack of cigarettes and only enjoy maybe 2 of them. My favorite was the one after work. The celebratory smoke of finishing the day. An addict craves their drug of choice all the time. I was sick of smoking but still doing it. My mind wanted to give it up I was sure, but I needed to bring the body over with my thought process. And in that lies the true challenge.
I was tired of the smell, the dirt, the ashes, the health risks, and most of all taking it on the chin for $10 bucks a pack!
The only part of smoking I liked was the actual act of smoking. Holding it in my hand, puffing on it, watching the smoke blow from my lips. Not the actual need to smoke. I no longer had that. No addiction, just an annoying holdover from my past life. Something I no longer enjoyed but just did out of ritual and habit.
(This factor will play out in another vice I would soon address.)
But what to do? I knew this chapter in my life had to end as I continued to evolve through my 50s.
I was moonlighting at the tanning salon one night and was cleaning one of the rooms. People are always leaving things behind in the rooms. I’ve found all kinds of things. Money, jewelry, drugs, underwear, etc. But this time I found a small, grey-colored metal stick with a tiny light on it sitting on the table. I had no idea what it was and just figured it was some sort of wifi gadget for a computer.
But I was wrong.
The girl who had left the object behind came back asking for it. I gave it to her.
“What is that?”
“It’s called a Juul. You smoke it. Like a vape pen.”
I had heard of people vaping but it all seemed weird to me.
“You can smoke that like a cigarette and nothing’s burning or making ashes?”
“Yea. You can charge it on your laptop, and you have these little pods you stick into it. They have different flavors and nothing is burning, no ashes, no smell, no real smoke, no carbon monoxide. It’s awesome. I love it.”
“Is there nicotine in that thing?”
“Yea, but only 5%. Which isn’t much, but it’s so much better for you than smoking dirty cigarettes.”
I was sold. The next day, I went to my local 7-Eleven and bought the starter pack of Juul. The unit, a charger, and 4 pods with different flavors. Virginia Tobacco, Cool Mint, Creme Brulee’, and Berry.
I charged the unit up at work that night and liked the results. I’ve been smoke-free since May 2018 and have never looked back. I don’t smoke my Juul that much and have zero desire to have a cigarette. When I see someone smoking a cig now, it looks dirty to me, and wonder how someone could enjoy such a primitive filthy habit.
Ahh, the reformed smokers are the worst!
I’m so happy cigarettes are gone from my life for good.
I know what you’re all thinking… Oh, you’re still getting nicotine from that thing.
They make nicotine-free pods now, so you can simulate smoking with no ill effects.
So now I can still enjoy the celebratory smoke after work with no addiction or health issues. I feel great and enjoy my Juul very much.
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