On this day twenty years ago I gave up cigarettes.
It marked the end of a long and turbulent relationship. I had started at the age of fifteen, way back in 1973, when Nixon was US President, the Beatles’ Blue and Red Albums were released, and the UK joined the EEC, an association that they too would eventually break.
The reasons why are embarrassing and stupid, a combination of curiosity, peer pressure and the fact that I was a moron. How little I enjoyed it it shown by the fact that just one year later I gave them up, though for just one year.
Then in 1983 the boyfriend of a girl I worked with got hypnosis to give up. He was so impressed that when he was leaving the course he enrolled her for the following Saturday. She didn’t want to go on her own so she asked me to go with her.
She was back on cigarettes on the Sunday. I stayed off them for three-and-a-half years.
The reasons why I went back on them are embarrassing and stupid, though this time can be distilled bluntly into the fact that I was a moron. And remained so for seventeen more years and thousands more cigarettes, all of them unmemorable and unsatisfying.
Then, in July 2000, I read Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking, and my life changed.
Allen Carr passed away in 2006. There have been a few very special people throughout history who have left this world having made it an immeasurably better place, and I would count him as one of them.
If you are reading this and want to quit cigarettes then I urge to to get his book. It tells you to keep smoking while you are reading it, and then, as you smoke and read, the book calmly and logically dismantles each of the reasons that you think you have for smoking. pointing out all of the absurdities inherent in them by simply waking up your own common sense.
It was late on the evening of July 5th when I finished the last chapter and elatedly stubbed out my last cigarette, knowing with absolute certainty that it would indeed be my last.
And it has been. I do still occasionally, even now, dream that I am back on them, usually for some reason on the terraces behind the goal at a football match. In these dreams I find myself reasoning that this doesn’t really count because I’m not smoking during any other part of the day, proof that the self-delusion that got me hooked on them in the first place has never really gone away.
But that’s being too hard on myself. I have done something truly remarkable, and today is a day to celebrate.
We all need another hero. Sometimes it’s ourselves.