Better To Be Choking Than Keep Smoking!


I am pretty sure that all the smokers remember their first time – their first cigarette, that is! I think I speak for everyone when I say that the first time you smoke, you find it really disgusting, it makes you choke and cough and splutter, and you feel very nauseous ! So why do so many continue with it? That is indeed the question.

Speaking for myself, it definitely made me feel quite ill when I had my first cigarette at the age of 14. I was on a school trip to France, on an exchange visit staying with a French family, who had a girl of around my age. The French at that time were a nation of very heavy smokers (and I don't think very much has changed there!) They also smoked extremely strong cigarettes like Gauloises, which are really disgusting in their smell (even more so than normal cigarettes, I mean). The family I was staying with were all moderate smokers, and their daughter was smoked quite heavily, despite being only about 15. I had never smoked at the time and thought I never would, but I was out with Claire, my French friend, one day and some of her friends, and someone offered me a cigarette. This had happened a few times before, and I had always refused, but this time I accepted, just out of curiosity really. It was horrible: I was coughing and spluttering for ages and felt sick and faint. I couldn't understand why anyone would do that for pleasure, and it put me off, for a few years at least!

As I have described in a previous blog, I then stupidly started smoking for real, as you might say, at the age of 20, and really only because I was working with a lot of human chimneys, so I came under their corrupting influence!! At first I still coughed a lot and didn't enjoy it, it took a long time for those physical reactions to go away.

I am fairly certain that is the case with everyone: that the initial response to inhaling a lot of burning toxic chemicals, all the coughing, choking and nausea, is the natural one, the one everyone should have, but we ignore that, we "persevere", if you like (I am not sure that is the right choice of verb!), and once the physical symptoms have subsided, we get hooked. If only people could stick with their immediate physical reaction, what their body is telling them, they would never get to the point of being addicted to it.

I was never a heavy smoker and never addicted, but it was habit-forming with me, nonetheless, and obviously I wish now I had never smoked at all. At least I have been smoke-free for about 6 years now though, so hopefully I can try to live the rest of my life in future as healthily as possible.

Hope you enjoyed this blog, and I appreciate your votes and comments.


Visit to the Hospital


All I can think of right now is the fact that my grandpa has been admitted into the hospital, again.

The doctors don't know anything for sure yet, but I'm so scared. And, when I pulled up Breathing Happy, all I could think about was the hospital and the faces of the people in the Emergency Room. Faces muted with worry and pain and "what if."

Have you ever been in a hospital? They try to make it as pristine and welcoming as they can, but there's still this underlying pressure of illness and pain that ways down every movement, every word. Especially if you're visiting a loved one, or if you're the one being checked in.

I have an image of smoking related death statistics with this post. I chose that particular one because it doesn't only involve the smoker.

The next time that you get the urge to light up, think of who you could be putting in the hospital. Maybe it'll be you. Maybe it'll be somebody that you love–your husband, wife, child, parents, best friend.

Take care of yourself and the people you care about. I believe in you.

Social Smoker? My Experiences With Smoking


When I was twelve years old I remember my older cousin Mike talking me into sneaking into my grandfather’s bedroom and taking a pack of his Salem cigarettes off his bureau. I did it and we went back behind the garage to smoke one of these menthol cigarettes, Can you imagine your first experience in cigarette smoking being a menthol?

When I was a teenager many of my friends smoked and I occasionally smoked. Not often though.

But when I was working at the telephone company years later and a group of us went out on Wedsnesday nighs I would partake of a cigarette. For some reason if the group around me was smoking I could counteract the annoyance of the smoke by smoking myself. So when the five or six around me lit up, so would I.

My daughter occasionally went to the smoke shop down town for some specialty smokes and I would get me a pack of Swisser Sweets. They had a nice mellow and sweet flavor. I actually liked to smoke them. In the Summer I would set out under the tree in the front yard and have a Swisser Sweet. But one day the flavor seemed to change and they just didn’t taste good anymore. I threw the pack away and never had another. What happened? I really don’t know.

I have never had any effects from smoking. No shortness of breath, or anything. I guess I was just a social smoker and when I was around people who smoked, I felt a need to too. I don’t like the smoke or the smell, and haven’t smoked in probably fifteen years or more. I am glad I was never addicted, and only wish it was this easy for others. My daughter smokes and I wish I could get her to quit. My granddaughter does too.

Social smokers? Peer pressure? What is it?

The Reluctant Smoker


I used to really hate smoking when I was very young, then I became a smoker myself, then I quit, now I hate it again! Full circle! I come from a family where we almost all used to smoke, and have now all given up and been smoke-free for years. I remember I used to complain about my Mum and my brothers smoking, then I took up the deadly habit myself! I think it was a question of “If you can't beat them, join them.” Fortunately that is not the case now, as now no one in my family has smoked for quite a few years.

I didn’t take up the habit until I was around 20 years old, and the only reason I did really was because of peer pressure: I was working at McDonald’s at the time and almost all the staff smoked (that was in the Dark Ages, when people could still smoke indoors at work!). Consequently the staff room would usually be thick with fug at break-times, the sort of atmosphere you could almost cut with a knife! That seems unbelievable now. It seemed less unpleasant to be a smoker myself than to be the only non-smoker in the room, so I took it up. I carried on for a while, but always meant to give up for good. I think I continued because I found, as most smokers do, that a cigarette seems to help in times of stress (I think it is more the oral solace though, the sucking action! Nicotine is actually a stimulant, so should make you more stressed).  I used to find the times I enjoyed a cigarette the most were with a drink or right after a meal, those were the hardest times to go without one.

Then I met a man who was a very heavy smoker and lived with him for several years (I have written about this in my previous blog). So I kept trying to quit but having a partner who was a constant smoker made it very hard. One quitting strategy I had was trying to restrict myself to just having a cigarette with a drink – and not having more than about 20 drinks a day! (Joke!)

Then when I was forty I had a serious accident: I broke both my legs in a car crash and was in hospital for 3 months. I couldn’t smoke there, and didn’t want to in any case, so I was able to quit that way, by simply not having a cigarette for several months. I admit, I did have the occasional cigarette on occasion when I got out of hospital, but didn’t enjoy them very much at all – the desire had gone. I haven’t smoked since then, and I have reached the point where I know I never will again now. That was around 6 years ago, so I think I am now safe from temptation! There is absolutely nothing to gain from this disgusting, killer habit, and everything to gain from giving up. I know that going through the initial withdrawal can be hard, but once you are through that it is easy, because you usually find you hate cigarettes after that!

Hope you got something out of reading this blog, and I appreciate your votes and comments.

(The photo shows me with my Mum)

My Pa


If you have had the chance to read my first post, you will know that I quit smoking very easily, but I was a light smoker.  My habit was minimal to say the least; at only three ciggies per day over a period of one year and a half, most smokers would laugh at that and say that I wasn't a 'true smoker'.  So, this next post is about someone who showed an incredible amount of strength when he chose to stop burning these addictive little sticks of stress-relief.

His name is Jean-François, but most people just call him Franck.  A French-Canadian with a heavy accent when he speaks English even though he started learning at the tender age of 12, he makes those he knows well laugh non-stop, for he enjoys being the clown in a group of people.  But, as with most others who lived in a family where physical (both hitting and sexual) and verbal abuse was the norm, he sought relief.  He found it in tobacco and bottle, and when he met my mother – who fell in love with the bad boy on a motorcycle – he would learn to be a different man.  Yes, the myth that sometimes all it takes to bring the best out of a man is a woman is true.  My parents are living proof of this.

Not to say that my pa wasn't a good man before; after all, unlike his brothers and sisters, he chose to join the army and make a living, instead of depending on welfare (some permanently, some on and off) to sustain himself.  I can't say that I blame them for doing so, even though all of us wish it didn't happen this way.  My father was the one who didn't fall through the cracks of the system and managed to pull himself together. But, with a girlfriend bursting with the glow of pregnancy, he had to act quickly.  And he did.

His drinking diminished drastically.  He ditched the bike and bought a car.  What he chose not to stop – and this was the compromise between him and my mom – was the smoking.  He was allowed to continue so long as he accepted to smoke outside (my mother is an RN and extremely cautious when it comes to babies and second-hand smoke).  The year they met: 1971. The year they married:  1973.  My brother was born two months later.

Fast-forward 30 years.  The year is 2003.  I had moved out already a few years before that, and had been living on my own in another city for quite some time, but still visited regularly.  My parents were the type of couple that always complained that they didn't have much money, yet my father was happily puffing away at his pipe every evening in the garage (cigarettes were no longer of interest – only cigars and pipe tobacco for him, now).  Although the smell is much more pleasing and the amount of chemicals greatly reduced, this is still not good for your health, nor for your wallet – which I pointed out to him in a gentle, yet firm way; I was a grown-up now, and my father treated me as so.  I therefore felt that I could give him advice on financial matters (whereas my mother still told me what time to come home in the evening if I went out with friends… !).  I blatantly pointed out that I didn't believe anyone who complained to be strapped for cash, yet continued this nasty habit.  Was this my father's turning point?  Perhaps it wasn't the only reason – after all, my mother surely nagged continuously about it – but I strongly believe that it gave him that final push he needed.  It had been years since he had ridden a motorcycle and the thought of sitting on a hog again was chewing away at him, and he knew that money was part of the issue.  It was the pipe or the bike.  He chose the bike.

Quitting was easy for him.  Like me, he took one last look at his tobacco products and said, "This is the last time I buy any of these".  He kept his pipe, of course, but it sits in its box, as usual, as a reminder of what he sacrificed to keep this vice of his.  He does not use the word 'regret' to explain how he feels about it, but had he decided to quit earlier, his life may have been different.  However, like they say, it's never too late to make yourself into a better person.


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My Grampa


My grandfather was a man of few words. Very few. He was rather unapproachable and always quite a mystery to me. At the age of five my parents had been divorced for sometime. I was living at my grandparent’s place and my mother was working as a waitress downtown. Read more

The Beautiful Deadly Habit


The hardest place in the world to quit smoking is Europe! Smoking has developed into such a social norm, a brand of cigarette someone smokes can tell you a lot about a person. Read more

How Did I Manage… ?


Well, I’ve seen that some people wrote a personal story, and I will write my own here.  Or, I should say, I will be writing some – as I have had a few experiences with different forms of smoking, mostly from second-hand or family-related issues. Read more

The Fags Got Him in the End!


Smoking is something I have good reason to hate, as it is around 6 years now since someone I loved very much died from smoking-related heart disease, and I still miss him every day. Read more