I believe most smokers have some desire to quit smoking. Most of the smokers who has this wish probably have a variety of reasons why they don’t want to quit today. The most common excuse is “I can if I want to” , so they keep smoking, knowing it will probably reduce their quality of life in some way.
And I was the same. I always had a plan to quit smoking by the time I was 50. That would give me some years to get the body “cleaned” and still experience many more years as a healthy human being. Why 50? No reason, it just seemed like a good number. I started when I was 14 in Junior High, which most of my friends did. And that would give me 33 wonderful years with my sigs.
Yes I say wonderful years, because even today, 9 years after I quit, I must admit there is probably a page full with good reasons to smoke. Or why it was good reasons to smoke in the past. Reason number one was of course because it felt good smoking. Don’t forget the sig after a heavy meal, or sex. Oh yes, the sig after sex! You smokers know what I talk about.
No problem finding pics of me with a sig.
So how did I manage to quit, despite the fact I really didn’t have any motivation for it? It was actually very easy to do so, I surprised myself and other. And it was not because of all the different laws regarding smoking which had recently been implemented and/or planned to be implemented. Nor was it the price level on cigarettes which had increased lately any factor, since I could easily buy cheap sigs on tax free, etc.
As all smokers know, it is just down to how we prioritize our money. If we have enough to pay all our bills, and still have a decent life, no financial reason to quit smoking. In the end of the day, it is just down to plain wanting to stop. And to not come up with lame excuses.
Always a sig available.
What made me decide to finally give up smoking after 33 years, was the simple fact that I was not able to reduce the number of sigs I smoked per day. It was starting to be restricted where we could smoke on the ship, and I expected to reduce the consumption from 20 to prox 10-11 sigs per day, the months I was onboard.
This was not working, because it started to feel like the body needed a certain amount of sigs per day, regardless. So when I sat in my cabin in the end of the day, watching tv, read, or listened to music, I increased the pace with the result I had finished a pack that day before I went to bed.
Ok, I needed a plan. Quit smoking always needs a plan, regardless if one plan to quit soon, or quit there and then. My plan was, when the carton I had in my cabin was finished (2 more days), I would NOT proceed down to the Provisions area and ask the Provisions master or his Store keeper to buy a new carton. I would make a try and see how long time it would go before I shamefully had to get down there in order to buy more sigs.
Plenty pics of me smoking.
So here we go, the 2 days had passed. I had removed the ashtrays and lighters from my cabin the last evening with cigarette smoking, knowing most smoking paraphernalia would probably set me off, and I would be on my way to buy sigs again. How long would this last?
The first thing a smoker does in the morning is either having a cigarette with the coffee, or a sig after breakfast. It is almost a sacred ritual. The sig in the morning is kind of the start signal for the day to begin. A spark plug for the body.
Amazingly enough, although I thought of smoking the entire morning, it was not difficult to avoid smoking. I guess all the thinking about quitting lately was still a motivator for me. It really took me by surprise. But I knew the real tests had not arrived yet, because bigger meals and smoking in social setting when drinking, thats the real test. So before I knew it, the entire day had passed, and the evening with the normal chain smoking had come.
So, being in my cabin alone, watching tv, or whatever I usually did, without sigs as my loyal travel companions, I needed something else to put in my mouth or I would crack very soon. Luckily I had a bowl with fruits on my table, so I started eating fruit instead. A very healthy substitute for nicotine I guess. Or, so I thought. Because consuming 8-10 pieces with apples, peaches, and oranges every evening before bed time is nothing else than a double edged sword. More about that another time.
When it was cool to smoke.
Day number two and three came and went, exactly like the first day. Only difference was of course work related. But quit smoking was still a go. Part of my motivation those first days was the fact I knew I would feel like a major Loser if I could not even exist without a cigarette for a couple of days. To start smoking so soon would have been an incredible defeat. Kind of Self-shaming, which seemed to work very well.
Unfortunately, when day 4 arrived a colleague on the Bridge mentioned I was never on the Bridge anymore when we have the 15 minute coffee break at 3 PM. We normally would gather on one of the Bridge wings, with the door open, having coffee or tea and a cigarette. A tradition which was already there when I started in the industry many years earlier, and still going on.
So the cat was out of the bag. They just knew I was trying to quit smoking. And all the standard questions as how many days so far, how serious I was about it, was I ill, or did I feel the need for a sig already? Questions I had asked friends and colleagues over the years when they tried to quit. They all knew the answers. I try (ONLY trying) to quit, I am not ill. And I need to be away from the temptations, so please do NOT offer me a sig. They all understood of course. Nothing new under the sun here.
The need for nicotine increased a lot the next few days. So I started to read up on how it is to quit smoking. The struggle I would expect to have in the near future, as well as all the health benefits I would get by not smoke. The health benefits were not really something I ever thought about as a smoker. Of course, I always knew it was not healthy to smoke, and the risks of getting very ill. But this time I was more into reading it and understanding it. And it helped me somewhat to not crack and start smoking again. But this was not really the main motivator.
The main motivator was without a doubt my colleagues on the ship. Because after it was clear to my colleagues on the Bridge and colleagues in my own department I was trying to quit, they all took an interest in it. Every day wherever I was on the ship, on the bridge, in a corridor somewhere, out on deck somewhere, I passed a colleague who asked me how many days without a cigarette so far. Doesn’t matter if it was a smoker or non-smoker, they all seemed to take an interest. And nobody ever offered me a cigarette. And it all started in the early morning as soon as I stepped into the Bridge. Talk about being blessed with good colleagues!
Smoking at work.
This strange “surveillance” of me, by my colleagues started to become the number one motivator I had when it came to quit smoking. The self-shaming thoughts (in case I cracked) I have had earlier was nothing compare to the pressure I suddenly experienced. It became some sort of Duty towards not only myself but my colleagues as well to not crack under the urge for a cigarette. There was no way I could fail now. If I failed, it had to wait until I was off the ship and back home. Which was still 6 weeks ahead of me. And so the days and weeks passed, and still no cigarettes. Not even a drag. because one single drag and I would not be able to tell I had not smoked for that long.
If I started to have this strong urge for a cigarette, I also could use my colleagues who also were x-smokers. I could tell them about how much I felt I wanted a sig, and they would listen and tell me about exactly the same urges, and what they did to. That also helped a lot.
And so the time had come for me to sign off the ship for this time, I had been without a cigarette for 6-7 weeks (I think). To begin smoking now would just be plain fucking stupid, I though. After all that pain and suffering, and then start again? Hell no!
I had become a non-smoker.
Spit it out!!
This makes me think of all the people out there who struggle with an addiction which makes quit regular cigarette smoking look like “a walk in the park”.