What does a smoker look like….?

I’m a smoker. Unfortunately. Even more unfortunate, I didn’t start smoking until I was 22. How ridiculous. I’d survived 5 years of secondary school, hence 5 years of pressure from my peers to smoke and I was always strong enough, as a shy teenager to say no. It started in university. I was a social smoker, but I never inhaled. I never realised I wasn’t inhaling correctly, I just thought, what’s all this fuss about smoking. I can have one or two on a night out and then not smoke again for months.

I remember the very first time I inhaled a cigarette. Boy I nearly died. I was travelling in South East Asia and had separated from the previous group I was travelling with to meet another group. I was in Singapore on my own staying at a pretty nice hostel in Little India. I went to the shop one day and decided to buy a packet of Marlboro Lights. Out of pure boredom I think. Devilish things!! I remember opening the pack outside the shop and lighting the cigarette and inhaling it. I think I actually inhaled it by accident. But all of a sudden I was choking and in convulsions trying to get my breath back. Breathing back to normal and I took another puff. I felt slightly dizzy and a little bit giddy. Strange to say, but I really liked the feeling. I finished that packet of cigarettes and now almost six and a half years later I’m still smoking.

My habits are pretty erratic. Some weeks I smoke 10 a day, others it’s a pack a day. Sometimes it can reach a pack and half if it’s a day like St Patrick’s Day or some holiday, or drinking celebration. ‘Sure why not celebrate with a cigarette’. None of my friends smoke. I can only think of two who might have the odd social smoke. But my boyfriend smokes.

I do actually like smoking. Well maybe it’s more I like the ritual of smoking: my cigarette while I listen to the radio in the morning on the way to work; my cigarette and cup of tea at 11 o’clock break; cigarette after a fulfilling lunch; another at 4pm break; the best one of the day after dinner; and whatever else follows for the rest of the evening. I firmly believe it’s more the ritual. I hate the smell. I douse myself in perfume and wash my hands every time I smoke, paranoid the smell is following me around. I hate standing outside in the rain trying to puff away. I hate the cost. I hate the social stigma. I hate the health consequences. There are lots of things I hate about smoking.

As some of my readers may be aware, I’m approaching 30. I decided to set a number of goals for myself to complete before reaching 30. Quitting the dreaded cigarettes is one of them. I tried briefly last year and didn’t smoke for about 3 weeks, then started having one with a drink on the weekends, until I was back on them full-time after 3 months. A pathetic attempt I know. I also tried about 5 years ago when I was travelling in Australia. Someone told me about Allen Carr‘s self help book. I read the first couple chapters and said, ‘yes this is good’. But I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to quit and quickly dropped the book.

I believe you have to be in a certain frame of mind to quit. To have the willpower and belief that you can actually do it. That I can actually break those habits. And for the first time in years, I really feel like I’m in that place. I really really want to quit. I see it in my fitness. Although I’m fit, I would be much fitter if I quit. I see the look of disappointment in my parent’s faces when I smoke (reformed smokers: they’ve been off them 9 years now!). I see the health risks and have seen too many people die from cancer and smoking related diseases over the past couple years. But I see how much it’s costing me. At my current rate of smoking, if I were to keep this up, (the past couple weeks it’s been 20 a day), that’s costing me €3,321.50 a year. I just had to re-check that. That is a phenomenal amount of money. I can’t afford to go abroad on holidays this year, but maybe if I’d quit the cancer sticks, then maybe I could have gone to an exotic long haul destination and lay out in the sun for two weeks. Idiot.

So I went to the library yesterday to borrow Allen Carr‘s book. I know a book isn’t going to cure me and I’d be the first to scoff at self-help books, but I think it will give me that extra bit of motivation to achieve my goal. Unfortunately, the book was out. I finished work early yesterday to race into town to get the book. Roadworks on the way in, so the shop closed just as I made it to the doors. A sign? No! I will definitely have that book in my hands by the end of the week and will be reading it through next week and hopefully will be a non-smoker the week after. I really can’t promise anything to anyone and probably won’t tell family or friends I’m attempting to quit (not that anyone notices when you’re not smoking, only when you do smoke!), but I really will try my damnedest this time.

But back to the title: What does a smoker look like? Regularly, when I meet friends of a friend or a work colleague and they discover I smoke, the first comment people always say is: You don’t look like a smoker. I always think, what a silly comment to make. What does a smoker look like? Are we supposed to be the rebellious type? Do they all have yellowed teeth and fingertips? Are all smokers wrinkled and older looking? Can you always tell a smoker by their low deep wispy voice? I think it’s absurd. Although I’m a smoker, I don’t have yellow teeth or fingertips. Perhaps because I’m a bit neurotic about that and wash my hands after every cigarette. Nothing worse than the smell of smoke off your hands. I look very young for my age and am still regularly i.d.-ed going to clubs and pubs, at the grand old age of 28. I don’t have a deep voice. So I really do wonder sometimes what people mean by that sort of comment….another sill stereotype.

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The final list. Now, time to complete

Well here’s the list. As I mentioned here, there’s a couple of things I’d like to accomplish before I enter my thirties. All 101 things I have to complete in the next 548 days. It’s going to be a busy time!

  1. Complete sprint triathlon
  2. Cycle tour in Ireland
  3. Go to Wimbledon & French Open – complete all 4 grand slams! 🙂
  4. Donate blood
  5. Join a book club
  6. Read 40 books
  7. Watch 101 movies
  8. Make homemade ice-cream
  9. Try Bikram Yoga
  10. Make homemade gifts
  11. Change career
  12. Learn Spanish
  13. Perfect 5 desserts
  14. Go to Glastonbury
  15. Host themed fancy dress party
  16. Godfather marathon
  17. Quit smoking
  18. Buy a good camera
  19. Quit Facebook for a month
  20. Volunteer for a charity
  21. Brew my own beer
  22. Visit Amsterdam
  23. Create a blog
  24. Climb a high mountain (>1000m)
  25. Stay at a 5* hotel (on personal time!)
  26. Make my own jam
  27. Go vegetarian for a month
  28. Take a long haul holiday
  29. Go to Russia
  30. Visit Stockholm
  31. Go fishing
  32. Win big in Las Vegas!
  33. Dance till sunrise in Ibiza!
  34. Do a cookery course in Spain
  35. Make a time capsule
  36. Climb Carrauntoohil
  37. Answer the “50 Questions that will free your mind”
  38. Making something with my sewing machine
  39. Have a family portrait taken
  40. Complete a 365 day photo challenge
  41. Learn to roll sushi
  42. Grow my own vegetables
  43. See Radiohead in concert
  44. Hire Volkswagen camper
  45. Guinness Storehouse
  46. Adopt a dog
  47. Go white water rafting
  48. Cruise on the River Shannon
  49. Alton Towers
  50. Overcome one fear
  51. Create family photo album
  52. Swim with dolphins
  53. Go whale watching
  54. Surf again
  55. Take golf lessons
  56. Have Harry Potter movie marathon party
  57. Visit Tate Modern
  58. Learn a card trick
  59. Go to a musical
  60. Write a short story
  61. Learn national anthem
  62. Learn all countries of the world and their capitals
  63. Bowl 10 strikes in a row – not on the Wii!!! 😉
  64. Be able to hold a conversation in Irish
  65. Learn a martial art
  66. Day in a spa
  67. Go to Dublin Zoo
  68. Draw a picture
  69. Lord of the Rings trilogy
  70. Bake Sourdough from scratch
  71. Picnic at midnight
  72. Visit the Cotswolds
  73. Make macaroons
  74. Throw a ‘grown up’ 3 course dinner party
  75. Save at least 6 months living expenses
  76. Buy my own house – or at least be living on my own
  77. Eat at a Michelin star restaurant
  78. Take a dress making course
  79. Skydive, again?
  80. Complete Grade 5 piano exam
  81. Learn Origami
  82. Go Wwoofing
  83. Dye my hair an outrageous colour
  84. Take my parents our to dinner and pay for it
  85. See Des Bishop live
  86. Be on the road to setting up my own business
  87. Go mountain biking
  88. Ride a Segway
  89. Learn to salsa
  90. Have plan in place to go long-term travelling again (Asia and South America for at least 6 months)
  91. Get a tattoo
  92. Make jewellery
  93. Send a message in a bottle
  94. Windsurfing
  95. Go rock climbing
  96. Learn a programming language
  97. Road trip of the Antrim Coast
  98. Learn to juggle
  99. Make pasta from scratch
  100. Reminisce on previous 29 birthdays
  101. Complete this list before I’m 30! 😉

Where to start?!  🙂