My last cigarette was on 18 January 2001 at 5:00pm, and I can now proudly say with all conviction that I am an ex-smoker! I didn't think I could do it, since nearly everyone at my work smokes. But, I got a terrible case of bronchitis that day, and I couldn't even think about a cigarette for two days. After that, it was "let's see if I can go another day without one...", and the rest is history. I have a half a carton that I had bought sitting on the front seat of my truck, where every morning I can look at them and tell them I'm going to beat them. Even though I still had some of the congestion left in my lungs from the illness after a month, I still felt better than I did even normally when I was a smoker. ("When I was a smoker"! Heh, heh, does that sound good! Hello, lower life insurance rates!)

Latest update: It's now the end of 2001, and I'm still smokeless! I thought I would share my story with everyone, because someone out there somewhere can surely benefit from what happened to me, and maybe there's a Nobel Prize in it for some doctor who'll listen.

When I got my case of bronchitis, I went to a clinic. There, I found a doctor who prescribed some Tussionex (Codeine-based) cough syrup. Now, later that summer, when I got another bad cough, and went to the same clinic, and asked for the same stuff from a different doctor, she said, "No way! That stuff gets you addicted after the first spoonful!" And she was not wrong. I swear to God, after my first spoonful of that creamy white, somewhat sugary and textured liquid, I was on the Internet looking for offshore pharmacies to keep me well-stocked after the scrip ran out! Of course, I didn't find any, but that was the strongest stuff I'd ever taken, and the addiction was immediate, powerful, and overwhelming. I literally got hooked on it the first day.

Now, the bottle lasted three days, and then my congestion finally started to clear up. I hadn't found any more Tussionex on the Net, and so I was forced down off my Codeine cloud, back to the rigors of reality. I must not really have become addicted to it, though, because after about a day I found I wasn't really missing it any more. But then I realized that it had been three days since I'd had a cigarette! Wow. Maybe I should see how long I could stand going without one. And so, I braced myself for the struggle, the fight, the incredible urges and cravings that were surely to follow. My lungs cleared up, my throat got better, my codeine addiction (?) was long gone, and... no nicotine withdrawl. None at all. I mean, there wasn't one craving, one urge, one shaking spell, nothing! It's literally as though I'd never smoked a cigarette in my life. Over the next three months, I had one dream about smoking a cigarette, and it immediately woke me up. Instead of wanting one, though, the immediate feeling I had was "Crap! I can't believe I've gone this long, just to give in and smoke one!" Then, when I realized it was just a dream, I laughed at the cancer sticks and went back to sleep.

I am now going on one full year without a cigarette, and I have not had any withdrawl symptoms at all. I think that my little episode with the codeine wiped clean whatever nicotine receptors there were in my brain that were causing me to be addicted to smoking. Doctors have told me that it's very common for one addiction to replace another, and maybe if I'd had more codeine, I would've become fully addicted. The bottle must've run out before the codeine could get its serious hooks into me, but after it had wiped my nicotine addiction out! What's weird is, I can't believe there's not one doctor out there somewhere who wants to put some trials together to see whether my experience is reproducible. Talk about the money that could be made, and the contribution to smokers everywhere who want to quit.

Is it ethical to get people doped up for a day or two, in order to drive the nicotine demons out of their brain? IMHO, you betcha. Worked for me.

In the interest of history, and actually because I still believe in personal freedoms (even though I now once again cannot stand second-hand smoke at all), I'm keeping this essay on smokers' rights up for all to see. It was written in the Spring of 1999. I am still a non-smoker as of today, 1/18/06, my fifth year of no smoking!

I am a smoker. I started when I was 30, and within three years, was pushing 3 packs a day. I'm now, thankfully, down to around a pack a day!

Even so, some of you may still think I'm an idiot for doing something so incredibly stupid. I'm a smart guy; I should know better, right?

Well, I agree with you. Smoking is pretty stupid. You spend money so you can inhale the fumes of some burning dried-up plant leaves. The tobacco companies put in extra chemicals to help keep you addicted, and no matter how much you understand that you'd feel so much better if you quit, you absolutely can't. Those of you who think losing weight is tough (and I'm one of those, too) don't know a thing about addiction. Smoking is a harder habit to break than cocaine! I don't know if I'll ever be able to, even though I know it'd probably be better for me.

The thing is, though, I don't really want to quit. I don't think smoking's cool or anything, and I know that doing something for compulsive reasons is bad on a much more funda"mental" (pun intended) level, but sometimes I just like the way that having a cigarette can calm me down, or give me the time to pause for reflection on something that's on my mind. And, also, I know deep down I don't really want to quit, because if I really did want to, I'd have already done it by now!

What makes me mad is the things smokers have been trained, and are now forced, to go through. I mean the social ostracization, the freezing outdoors in the winter, the financial hardships, the down-their-nose looks we are given by people whose holier-than-thou meter must surely be broken, or they'd be instantly subjected to at least ten times the guilt pangs they're trying to lay on us. I hate second-hand smoke, too, and I try never to offend anyone by smoking around them if they don't appreciate it. But give me a break, people -- smoking cannot possibly be as bad for you as some of the things people do. True, it's not good for you, but what is? Life is the leading cause of death, and I can rationalize anything by using the old "years-in-my-life / life-in-my-years" argument!

When you see a fat person eating a Twinkie, do you conclude that the government should tax the hell out of Twinkies, because we're spending money on the health problems obesity creates? Do we care that French Fries are the most heavily-consumed vegetable in this country, or that we as a society have become willing to wait in line while an underpaid, overworked, fast-food employee gets our order for pre-processed, neatly-packaged fat calories completely wrong? How about the imbecile who blows past you on the interstate, driving like they're in some huge video game, where if they kill someone through their idiotic selfishness, they can just hit the reset button and start over? Any social payment involved there? And how about a society that rants and raves against drunk driving, yet continues to not prosecute those murderers for their crimes, and calls unconstitutional the policeman's desire to wait in the bar's parking lots at closing time?

Put in perspective, there are a lot of stupid things that people do that cause much more immediate suffering to society, and yet are absolutely ignored. Why blackball cigarettes? If I'm considerate about how I do it, I'm only hurting myself, and if you're going to legislate against that, I guess you'll have to outlaw skydiving, walking in the park at night, and having babies. "Having babies??" That's right! I mean, they're just going to grow up and die, and society might have to pay for their burial, right? (The assumption has to be made there that the baby will not grow up to be responsible enough to provide their own financial means for burial. This assumption can be made on the same grounds that allows us to believe that smokers are too irresponsible [as evidenced by their obvious mental inferiority] to understand and make themselves an active participant in the concept of health insurance!)

Logic, extended fully, can provide a wonderful rebuttal to any emotional argument. Lay off smokers, and go do something constructive rather than destructive with the time you have. Any idiot can bitch, and any liberal can levee taxes. Noble individuals recognize their own fallibility, and do not throw rocks in their own glass houses.

© 1999 Dan McGlaun