I am ten years old.
A decade ago this month, I set out to quit smoking for the second and final time. My first attempt in October of 2003 failed miserably when I tried to go cold turkey. To soften the blow of being completely off of nicotine during that attempt, I gave myself congratulatory cigarettes. That, as you can expect, was a dumb move. After two weeks, I gave in and started smoking again.
Finally, in February 2004, after another case of chronic bronchitis that became part and parcel of my life here in Austin with all the mold and pollen, I decided that I really, really needed to quit smoking again. So I went on the patch. Since the drugstore didn’t have the high-dose patches in stock, I used the mid-dose patches and continued smoking for the first week, but with light puffs and low intake — down from 25 smokes a day to about 3 or 4 with plenty of guilt. By the time a week or so had passed, I continued the mid-dose patches without smoking, stepping down to the low-dose patches later. By the end of March, after six weeks, I removed my final patch and adapted to my new lifestyle.
I look back on parts of the habit fondly, but overall I regret ever starting. It was a self-destructive act that I began in ’95; when I was 23, I was obviously immortal and didn’t care. By 33, I started caring greatly. By and large, the only way I’ve stayed quit for 10 years is by following this dictum: I can’t start smoking again if I don’t put another cigarette in my mouth. This teetotaler attitude has served me well.