As many a smoker will tell you, stopping smoking is easy – it’s the staying stopped bit which is difficult. I have stopped many times, often for quite long periods, but then again, I did not start till quite late in life, and smoked very lightly for a while – though I was a heavy smoker for years I guess. Well not heavy like my mum, who was somewhere around the forty a day mark for sixty years till she decided one day to quit, and did. She stopped for a couple of years, then started again for a few months, and now has not smoked for a few years again. What I find interesting about how her stopping was why she did it the first time — a relative was trying to give up, using gum, patches and all the various gimmicks – so being a stubborn and perverse sort she just stopped cold turkey, I suspect to prove a point. My family has an element of stubbornness.
I have always stopped the same way: despite a tendency to stop in the heat of summer and then slaughter my friends, and redecorate the house in their blood and trail their viscera around the beams like tinsel, and do impressions of the Spice Girls – the latter being the most horrific I am told — I never have tried a patch or gum. I think the reason was simple – I could not afford them! Now your NHS doctor (always assuming you are in the UK) will give you patches, on prescription I guess, so you can stop. Costs the NHS sixteen quid. Money well spent if you consider how much tobacco related illness costs the NHS. Now we just need a freezing cold damp patch that drastically lowers your body temperature (or a rented flat, same difference), so you shake, shiver, and burn off loads of calories – the “Fat Patch”, and one suffused with double JD & Coke or two pints of lager & a packet of crisps — the “Pub Patch”. Once we have defeated the unholy trinity of booze, obesity and ciggie related health issues, we can start to work on not-so-preventable diseases.
Anyhow, I am now stopping smoking – it’s been six weeks since I had a cigarette, but I’m not made of stern stuff like mum. I was ill with a cold, put my cigarette out, and stopped because I did not want to make myself even worse. I then simply did not start again when I felt better, maybe because it took three weeks of being mainly bed bound to recover from said cold – I slept through much of Christmas – actually I think it was probably flu, but I don’t like to be dramatic about these things — and my sinuses took a couple of weeks longer to recover. So not smoking was relatively easy; though perversely as I recall when I was in hospital many years ago for a while with a head injury, the first thing I did when I came out was have a cigarette, because that felt normal.
Incidentally I do know a pretty much guaranteed empirically proven way to give up smoking (I want to type “give up the fags, but am aware Americans get confused: I recall the frightened Mormon who got upset many years ago when I told him and his partner I was “just popping out the back to have a quick fag, and I’d be right back to deal with them” – his partner luckily was more streetwise and knew UK slang, and told him fags here are cigarettes. This actually gives me an idea: should the NHS hire Westboro Baptist to run a “God hates fags!” anti-smoking campaign? In fact could Phelps simply be a misrepresented anti-smoking Crusader? South Park missed a possibility here. 🙂 ) Anyway how to give up smoking, in three easy phases.
1. Book a DFDS cruise to Denmark
2. Smoke a lot and have a week or two in Denmark
3. On the ship back, smoke till you see Harwich. Then announce you are giving up. From then on you only smoke when in Denmark, if at all. Then send me say £15 in used bank notes, for the medical advice.
This may not seem a very promising treatment regime. In fact, I suspect medically qualified friends of mine may suggest that this is actually a rather expensive, and somewhat dubious claim. Admittedly I have no experimental evidence, though I am sure that if anyone wants to pay for me to go back to Denmark for a couple of weeks I will start smoking again and be only to happy to participate in a trial. However, I have evidence! Many many years ago my dad came back on the ship with me from Denmark, and stopped smoking as we neared Harwich. Then in 1992 Hugh Wake did exactly the same thing. Sceptics out there might argue correlation is not causation, but what would they know? And to be honest, what have you got to lose? You can try Denmark, or Danmark as we perversely call our country.
WARNING: This Youtube video I found contains lots of Danish girls, many wearing lingerie. it may be offensive.Please do not view if you are offended by scantily clad women. It is NOT pornographic in the slightest. Ladies, Danish men look like me and Tom Nowell. I could not find a video called “Danish Guys” that did not feature, er, well anyway Tom and I can strip to our undies next Ars Magica session and film a version if anyone feels left out? Also purists might wish to note that one lady is Venezualan-German, and one from the UK according to the comments! 🙂
Now you can see why I’m in England??? Er, if you can do tell me! 😉 Anyway it worked for Dad and it worked for Hugh, and until someone sponsors my trial in the interests of Evidence Based Medicine (DFDS, want to help out?) it is the best I can offer. Or catch flu, and stay in bed, and stop smoking, and have your girlfriend make it clear she will kick you in the head if you start again. That works too.
Now of course those who have recently stopped smoking are the most passionate anti-smokers of all. Or so they say – I don’t give a toss. I really don’t mind if you smoke round me or not. I gave Dawn one of my fags I have on the book case (you don’t know you are giving up unless you have cigarettes to hand, so I keep some here) the other day, and I really don’t mind when the boys go out for a ciggie during the game. I go out in fag breaks at the pub quiz and talk to the smokers. It does not seem to make me crave one; so far only eating and being proselytized by Mormons seems to do that, and I have been through a lot of anxiety and stress over various issues in the last couple of weeks, and that ha snot made me start again. I really don’t mind if you smoke or not: it’s none of my business. I’ll lend you a lighter. If you want to give up, used my DFDS method — it’s a lot safer than catching flu — and remember piger means girls, not pigs, as my girlfriends often seem to think if I call them it — if you pick up a hot Danish pig I’m not to blame.
The most annoying thing about people who have given up smoking, and those who still smoke when you are giving up, is they talk about smoking all the bloody time. My smoking friends seem to think I find talking about why I stopped, how much they smoke,and smoking bans is interesting to me. It’s not. I don’t smoke now; so what? My non-smoking friends seem to think that I need to agree on the evils of smoking, and ask about how much damage I have done to myself already — well, I’m really not inclined to dwell on either. I just want to forget about smoking, and wish people would stop going on about it – hence the supreme hypocrisyt of this blog post.
I did talk to Lisa about it briefly the other night, because she was amused by how much I get irritated by anti-smoking fascists and smoking fascists alike. She claims I am some kind of intellectual nihilist, happily taking punts at everyone, ripping in to arguments for the sake of being contrary (and right!). (I’m not: that’s Axel…) In fact what motivates me in many things, like my posting on forums, the rows I get it in, and many of the things I write, is a hatred of bullies, and people who think they are much cleverer than the poor people they pick on, and fight a holy crusade for their religious, paranormal or sceptical beliefs while walking roughshod over people’s feelings, picking petty arguments and becoming smug and sanctimonious. Such people tend to be epistemologically and philosophically naive luckily, and usually know little about scientific methods (though think they know everything), so it is very easy to argue with them, and occasionally tear in to them. So I become the bully: it’s a crazy mixed up world. Well, I just don’t like people who lack respect or compassion for others, but I guess gentleness is something one learns. Passionate anti-smokers, like passionate ex-anything (ex-lovers in particular – have any of my ex-girlfriends got anything good to say about me?) tend to go through a phase of making Tomas de Torquemada look like Francis of Assisi. I guess the years mellow one. I hope so, or soon I will be wandering the streets, haranguing smokers and waving pointy sticks at them. Still, I hope that never happens!