Mike Brown: Quitting Smoking

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Illustration: EleoraDraws.com
Kurt Vonnegut once said that smoking is the only honorable form of suicide. I suppose that opinion is debatable, but then so is bacon, chocolate and Mormonism. Cigs give you cancer, bacon gives you heart attacks, chocolate gives you diabetes, and Mormonism will bore you to death. And if death is inevitable, then doesn’t that mean that we all are just committing suicide a tiny bit each and every day somehow?
These justifications all make it hard to give up on one of my favorite pastimes. I’ve quit several times in the past. I’ve gone years without lighting up, so it’s not a matter of knowing whether or not I can stop. I can stop. The reality is that I quit smoking every couple hours, then I just relapse throughout the day. But when I wake up in the morning and look out into the great Salt Lake City inversion, I think to myself, “Well, I’m going to be breathing in a bunch of toxic shit today anyway, so I might as well enjoy it.”
There is something that actually scares me about quitting—the new e-cigarette phenomenon. When Back to the Future Part II grossly and sadly predicted what 2015 would be like, no one was rocking a vape. I’m still really sad that there aren’t hover boards yet, but who would have thought that vaping would turn into the essential activity of the douchebag Millennial that it is today? That’s what scares me: I’m afraid that I could become a Vape Guy at this point if I just quit—and I don’t want to be Vape Guy.
First off, all these vapes and e-cigs are seriously just the dildos of the tobacco family. Back in the day, you would simply quit smoking Lucky Strikes by switching to cigars. Now you can tell yourself that you proudly don’t smoke anymore but spend just as much money on nicotine as you used to. Nice move, Vape Guy. Oh, and it comes in all sorts of delicious, fruity flavors! So, you can let all the real smokers know what a pussy you are by puffing out mangos. Do they even make tobacco-flavored vapes? That would make sense to me, but like I said, I don’t suck on dildos, so I don’t know.
Another thing that really bugs me about the Vape Guy is that they always seem to be bumming cigs anyway. Are you fucking serious? Bumming cigs is already annoying enough. It’s annoying to give a stranger a stogie, and it’s annoying to ask someone for one. I always think it’s funny when someone bums a cig off me and it’s my last one and they’re like, “Oh, no way man—I can’t take your last one.” Like that’s the last cig I’m ever going to have, or the last cigarette in existence, and it is sacred, for some stupid reason. Just go ahead and take it, buddy. I probably have another pack in the car.
Even though bumming smokes off of people is annoying, it’s part of the social interaction that attracted me to smoking in the first place. It’s one extra human exchange that you can have with someone before you go back to staring into your phone. Can a group of Vape Guys do that? Can you bum a vape? I can just imagine a group of dorks vaping it outside of the last Lord of the Rings premiere and one of them asks to bum a cartridge. Then one guy reaches deep into his trench coat and hands an extra vape to his fellow dork as he puffs graciously while adjusting his slicked-back hair.
This level of douchery cannot be any more acceptable than real smokers. Besides, smoking used to be really, really cool. Actors did it, and not like the troubled ones you see on TMZ nowadays, but the cool ones sitting next to Johnny Carson having a laugh and a puff. Athletes did it—baseball players puffed in the dugout. NBA Players smoked in the locker rooms, and not just the European players, but cool guys like Jerry Sloan. Hell, I’m pretty sure that back in the day, if you were a coach, you were allowed to smoke on the bench. I don’t know about football players, but probably not, because football players are usually not very cool.
You can talk about the negatives of smoking all you want, but the biggest one to me has got to be money. My smoking habit equals my car payment. I always set up a “Quit Smoking” jar when I’m quitting. It’s like a swear jar, but you put $7.50 in it a day, and then buy a couple 8-balls at the end of the month.
That being said, other than the money jar, here’s how I go about quitting these days: I just stop—no nicotine gum, no patch, no vape, no crutch. I just stop and maybe have one or two mild panic attacks for the next couple days, and use the fact that I haven’t smoked for a few days as an excuse to be a bigger dick to people than I already am.
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